Huskies Hoping To Prevent OSU's Midseason Turnaround

Oct. 13, 2006

SEATTLE (AP) -- Tyrone Willingham looked at Oregon State's rosterand stats and grew perplexed.

Willingham, Washington's coach, saw an offense that has thesecond-best running back in the Pac-10 Conference in YvensonBernard, and a defense that statistically is the third-best unit inthe conference.

Then he looked at the Beavers record -- 2-3 overall, 0-2conference -- and Willingham was even more puzzled.

'You struggle to find an explanation for it,' he said. 'I'mstruggling with that aspect of it.'

While Willingham can't understand the Beavers' struggles, theOregon State faithful are downright frustrated and expressing theirdispleasure as the Beavers travel to Seattle on Saturday to facethe Huskies.

During last week's 13-6 loss to Washington State, signs in theOregon State crowd called for the ousting of coach Mike Riley andadditional playing time for freshman quarterback Sean Canfield.Starting quarterback Matt Moore was heckled mercilessly by theBeavers' student section, and Moore snapped, screaming at a fan.

'That is a rule from day one. We don't talk with people,'Riley said. 'Literally from day one, no matter what is going on,whether you are traveling or at home, there's always someone tryingto get you and you don't do that.'

Adding to the pressure, Al Reser, who donated an estimated $20million to the school, and has his last name on the Beavers'stadium, told The Oregonian that the current direction of theprogram is 'unacceptable.'

There is a serious burden on the Beavers to try and reverse thedownward trajectory of their season -- sliding away since losing a14-0 lead in a 42-14 loss at Boise State last month. Moore's poorplay and Riley's reluctance to yank his senior quarterback havemade the pair targets for blame, although the coach continues tostand by Moore.

'I'm concerned about how we're doing too,' Riley said. 'Allwe're doing is focusing on getting better. I like this team, it's agrowing team ... but we've got plenty to do.'

Then, perhaps, getting away from Corvallis is best for theBeavers, looking to somehow turn around a season that has seentheir only wins come against Division I-AA Eastern Washington andIdaho.

Seattle might be that place.

The Beavers' last Pac-10 win came on Nov. 5, 2005, an 18-10 winover the Huskies in a miserable rain and wind storm, when kickerAlexis Serna tied a conference record with six field goals. In hislast two games against Washington, Serna is 11-for-11 on field goalattempts.

Oregon State has won two in a row at Husky Stadium and has achance to win three consecutive games in Seattle for the first timesince the 1940s. But the Beavers have dropped their last fourconference games since beating the Huskies last year and theplayers aren't oblivious to the fan backlash, especially towardMoore.

'I'm sure it hasn't been easy on Matt and it hasn't been easyon the team seeing that whole deal going on,' tight end Joe Newtonsaid. 'We know the whole situation. He has our support, but it hasbeen a little rough.'

Last year's loss to the Beavers represented the bottom forWashington quarterback Isaiah Stanback. Trying to throw in themiserable conditions, Stanback was benched in the second half aftercompleting just 5 of 12 passes. Instead of sulking, Stanback hasrebounded to lead Washington to five wins in its last eight games.

This week's challenge is putting aside the disappointing finishof last Saturday's 26-20 loss to No. 3 Southern California, whenWashington failed to get a play off from the Trojans' 15 with twoseconds left. Many considered the narrow defeat by the Trojans amoral victory for Washington and another sign of the rapidturnaround the Huskies are making in Willingham's second year.

Stanback didn't want to hear talk like that.

'We lost, it sucks,' Stanback said. 'I don't have moralvictories. I want to win every game.'

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