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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    RB leads growing Beavers ‘O’

    UA wide receiver Anthony Johnson is tackled by a Washington State defender during the Wildcats 48-20 victory over the Cougars last Saturday at Arizona
    UA wide receiver Anthony Johnson is tackled by a Washington State defender during the Wildcats’ 48-20 victory over the Cougars last Saturday at Arizona

    The Oregon State football team may in fact be 2-3, 0-2 to start its Pacific 10 Conference season. But that’s the way it started last season, and the Beavers ended 10-4, en route to a third-place Pac-10 finish and a 39-38 victory in the Sun Bowl over Missouri.

    A total of 17 starters return – even wide receiver Sammie Stroughter, who was expected to take the season off after dealing with two family deaths in the summer.

    The Beavers also return senior running back Yvenson Bernard, who is on pace to finish as the second-leading rusher in OSU history.

    Still, things may be just a bit different for the Beavers this season.

    The quarterback position is a bit of predicament.

    With Matt Moore ‘s eligibility complete, the Beavers now start Sean Canfield, who hasn’t exactly fared well inhis debut season leading the depth chart. the Beavers offense ranks last in Division I-A in turnovers, as OSU quarterbacks have thrown 15 interceptions in five games, six by Canfield.

    Despite the poor start, Bernard said he’s seen it before and isn’t worried.

    “”I don’t see that much difference,”” Bernard said. “”We have the same people pretty much. Last year we were at the same point at 2-3 and we won the last eight of nine.””

    Bernard, who averages 100.4 yards per game, has netted 502 yards, an average of 4.6 yards per carry and five touchdowns.

    He ranks 18th all-time in rushing yards in Pac-10 history and likely will become the third OSU rusher to finish his career in the top 10.

    He will, however, be going against an Arizona defense that ranks No. 27 in the country against the run.

    Last season Bernard tore up the Wildcats with 107 rush yards and 27 receiving in OSU’s 17-10 victory at Arizona Stadium, as quarterback Willie Tuitama sat out with a concussion.

    In Corvallis, Ore., in 2005, in Tuitama’s first collegiate start, Bernard had 192 rushing yards, 26 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s 29-27 win.

    “”He’s a horse,”” said UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”He’s just got very, very good vision. He’s a good runner, very tough. He’s a hell of a player.

    “”You’ve got to be really disciplined against this team. They really find ways all the time to get creases for him and he’s exceptional with finding space.””

    The Beavers rank No. 3 in the country in rush defense, something that will pose a bit of a challenge for freshman Nicolas Grigsby, especially coming off a soft Washington State rush defense that allowed him 186 rushing yards.

    “”Every year we play them, for some reason they seem to turn it up against us,”” Bernard said. “”They’re one of those teams. They don’t look that big, but when they play us, they look phenomenal. We’re just like, ‘Damn, those guys are real good.’ We’re always wondering why.””

    Bernard, who was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 30th round of the MLB amateur draft in high school, is a good bet to rank high within the NFL draft’s next running back class.

    “”He’s a very talented player,”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”He’s been the heart and soul of their team. … We’ve got to do a good job on him. We’ve got to tackle and understand where we fit in all their zone concepts. It’s a difficult preparation.””

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