Jordan Poyer

Oregon State Beavers Scrape Out 34-30 Nail-Biter to San Diego State Aztecs

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Oregon State Beavers Football
Oregon State Beavers Football | (Alex Gallardo/The Associated Press)

The Oregon State Beavers didn’t make it look pretty, but in a season where wins may be hard to come by a 34-30 win over the San Diego State Aztacs puts the Beavers one game closer and half-way to being bowl eligible.

[gn_quote style=”1″]”It was just one of those nights where we weren’t as good as we could have been, but we kept fighting,” head coach Mike Riley said, “and we found a way to win.”[/gn_quote]

After battling back-and-forth all night, and trailing 30-21 with less than three minutes remaining, a 10-yard touchdown pass from Sean Mannion to backup running back Terron Ward cut the deficit down to just two points. Ward was replacing starter Storm Woods who is still recovering from a concussion suffered against Utah last week.

Instead of going with an onside kick, Riley trusted his defense to hold strong with 2:40 remaining down two points. And he made the right choice as the ensuing play resulted in a 16-yard Steven Nelson pick-6 to give the Beavers the win.

Watching the game was former Beaver great and current Philadelphia Eagles corer Jordan Poyer. Poyer has been a mentor to Nelson who has four interceptions on the season, an average of one per game.

[tweet_embed id=381613298929504256]

“He encouraged me, got my mind right,” Nelson said. “He told me I’m a real good athlete, that he sees it in me, I just need to trust myself. When I started listening to that, I started playing better.”

Also with another dominant performance was Beavers wide out Brandin Cooks who finished the game with 14 receptions for 141 yards (10.1 YPC) including a long of 46 yards. Cooks is now up to 639 yards on the season (159.8 YPG) and closing in on the Oregon State record books.

Brandin Cooks
Brandin Cooks | (Alex Gallardo/The Associated Press)

Fortunately for the Beavers, they have a light schedule over the next month before a gauntlet to conclude the regular season. Oregon State will host the re-building, but much improved, Colorado Buffaloes next weekend. From there the Beavers will have an off week before back-to-back road tests against Washington State and Cal.

Looking at those three games, the Beavers will need at least two wins if they have any hopes of making a bowl game. Oregon State finishes its season with No. 5 Stanford, USC, Arizona State, No. 16 Washington and close out with the Civil War against the No. 2 Oregon Ducks. Finding one win in that list is a daunting task.

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Beavers’ Steven Christian Granted 6th Season of Eligibility by NCAA

Steven Christian (OSUBeavers.com
Steven Christian
(OSUBeavers.com)

Oregon State defensive back Steven Christian has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. Christian missed the 2009 and 20011 seasons at the University of Hawaii due to a hip injury, before transferring to play for the Beavers in 2012.

According to the Oregon State athletic’s site, “OSU officials submitted a waiver to the NCAA demonstrating that Christian lost both those seasons due to circumstances beyond his control.”

The senior played from Sacramento, Calif played in seven games last season recording five total tackles with a forced fumble and interception. He will have one more year with the Beavers.

[gn_quote style=”1″]”The last year was an amazing experience for me,” Christian said to OSU Beavers. “To be a part of a wonderful program with coaches such as Coach (Mike) Riley and Coach (Rod) Perry is an honor to have. Over these past eight months I have learned so much as a player and a person from both of them.”[/gn_quote]

With the losses of Jordan Poyer (CB) and Anthony Watkins (SS) from the secondary, Christian will have a chance to battle for legitimate playing time next season.

[gn_quote style=”1″]”I’ve grown real close to many of my teammates even though it hasn’t been a full year,” Christian added to OSU Beavers. “Having the opportunity to be a part of Beaver Nation for one more season will yield an even greater experience.”[/gn_quote]

Comment below if you think Christian will make a difference for the Beavs next season. Follow the conversation on our Facebook page and Twitter @EDN_Sports

9 Defining Plays of 2012 Season: #7 – The Stomp

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And we’re back. You thought you could get rid of this series that easily? Not so fast, because I’ll be posting a new play daily for the next week. For those of you who missed out on the previous two editions of this series, here they are: #9 – The Arrival – #8 – The Pick-6

That said, on we go to #7!

Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas with the ball in the Ducks' win over Oregon State in the Civil War (Alex Shoemaker/Eugene Daily News)
Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas with the ball in the Ducks’ win over Oregon State in the Civil War (Alex Shoemaker/Eugene Daily News)

7. The Stomp (November 24, at Oregon State, 3rd quarter)

 

The Play: After an 8-yard run on 2nd and 12, De’Anthony Thomas is flagged for unnecessary roughness after stomping on Oregon State defensive back Jordan Poyer.

Remember when De’Anthony Thomas appeared to be a full-fledged Heisman candidate? Yes, those same days in September when Thomas, West Virginia’s Geno Smith and USC’s Matt Barkley stood atop lists predicting who would fly to New York for the presentation of college football’s most prestigious award.

Something funny happened on the way to the Big Apple. Opposing defenses honed in on Thomas. Throughout Pac-12 play, the sophomore wunderkind was often stifled and saw few offensive touches, giving way to Kenjon Barner – who, as it turns out, came a whole lot closer to the Heisman Award than Thomas, finishing 9th in the overall voting.

Even in some of the Ducks’ biggest games, Thomas took a backseat to Barner as a rusher. Case in point: the USC game, in which Barner carried the ball 38 times for an astounding 321 rushing yards (more on that later in the rankings). Thomas, conversely, took just three carries for nine yards.

Granted, the “Black Momba” was far from a non-factor against the Trojans, hauling in five receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown. The following week, Thomas caught eight passes for 101 yards while gaining only 13 yards rushing on five carries.

The reasons why? Plainly, Thomas had proven ineffective in Pac-12 play unless he got the ball out in space. Especially with opposing defenses having stacked the box against him, he struggled to find the patience and technique to find open lanes. Too often, he was stuffed behind the line of scrimmage, and even looked sluggish at times.

More and more, Thomas’s role in the Oregon offense was evolving as a slot receiver, rather than a running back. Besides, given Barner’s wild success running the ball, what was the point of force-feeding Thomas?

Oregon's Kenjon Barner is helped off the field after suffering a stinger (Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas with the ball in the Ducks' win over Oregon State in the Civil War (Alex Shoemaker/Eugene Daily News)
Oregon’s Kenjon Barner is helped off the field after suffering a stinger (Alex Shoemaker/Eugene Daily News)

November 24; the Civil War Game. 6:22 left in the first half. Barner goes down with what appears to be a leg injury. Suddenly, Thomas is the Oregon Ducks’ #1 running back. On three carries in what’s left of the first half, Thomas gains just four yards. Trouble appears to be brewing for the Oregon offense.

Second half. Oregon State opens with a touchdown drive to cut Oregon’s lead to 20-17. After a 7-yard completion from quarterback Marcus Mariota to wide receiver Josh Huff, Thomas opens the Ducks’ ensuing drive with three more carries for 12 yards.

More of the same, it appears. And then, after that third carry, an 8-yard run to right side, as often seems to happen in rivalry games, things get heated. Oregon State defenders, including All-American cornerback Jordan Poyer, continue to push Thomas back and pull on his legs and facemask even after the whistle has blown, eventually bringing him to the ground.

Without hesitance, Thomas stands up, takes a couple steps at Poyer, still on the ground, and stomps on his chest. Then, he turns around, as if nothing has happened. Flags fly, a small scuffle ensues, Thomas is penalized for unnecessary roughness, and the game goes on.

“Did you kick the guy?” asks one reporter after the game.

“Yes, I did,” responds Thomas, with a tone devoid of remorse.

Well, then…

Transgressions of decency like this in sports happen more often than many of us like to think. Sometimes, the transgressor is scorned. Sometimes, they are not. In the public eye, this case appears to have fallen into the latter. Why? Most likely, it’s because of what De’Anthony Thomas does next.

Oregon State's Jordan Poyer was the recipient of a De'Anthony Thomas in the Civil War (Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas with the ball in the Ducks' win over Oregon State in the Civil War (Alex Shoemaker/Eugene Daily News)
Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer was the recipient of a De’Anthony Thomas in the Civil War (Alex Shoemaker/Eugene Daily News)

On his next five carries, Thomas nets 50 yards and two crucial touchdowns, turning a close game into a comfortable Oregon lead. He runs with a conviction that quite simply didn’t seem to be there for much of the season, as well as that patience that had often lacked, finishing the game with a season-best 122 yards rushing on 17 carries, along with three touchdowns.

Running angry? You bet, at least in this writer’s view.

“I was kind of mad, because, all the other plays, (there were) cheap shots and trying to twist people’s ankles up under the pile and stuff like that,” says Thomas after the game, though he denies this anger factored into his on-the-field play.

Not exactly known for revelatory press conferences, Thomas offers some wisdom into the pitfalls of being a national powerhouse program, proceeding with surprising candor when asked if the “cheap shots” had happened before.

“A couple of teams,” he answers. “I don’t know what’s the reason for it – I guess we’re just Oregon.”

Check in tomorrow for #6 – on a particularly painful night for one of the Ducks’ premier defensive players.

Plenty To Play For Besides State Pride…

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By Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

The things you love about college football can also break your heart. That’s how you had to feel last weekend if you’re an Oregon fan. After nearly coming back from a 24-point deficit against a stacked USC team, a field goal attempt by kicker Alejandro Maldonado sailed just to the left.

Thus, the now-tenth ranked Ducks lost 38-35 to the Trojans. Moreover, any hopes of returning for the BCS Championship game went out the window with the upset. Still, Oregon has plenty to play for. By winning this Saturday against Oregon State, they’ll clinch the Pac-12 North Division and will host the inaugural conference championship game (and fight for the rights to the Rose Bowl) the following Friday. In the meantime, they haven’t been holding a pity party over what might’ve been.

Oregon running back LaMichael James knows that winning against the Beavers is a must to advance to the Pac-12 Championship. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

“The kids are great,” said Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. “They’re resilient and they bounce back. I think the loss hurt and stung hard on Saturday, but the feel-sorry-for-yourself bus left Sunday night and none of our guys were on it.”

In fact, some of the Ducks consider the recent defeat a life lesson of sorts.

“You learn something from every game whether you win or lose,” said safety John Boyett. “Every one is a learning experience, because you go back, watch the film, and see what you did right or wrong. You use that to become a better player and help your team win the following game.”

With that in mind, the Ducks still have to do one small thing against the Beavers.

“We’ve got to win,” said running back LaMichael James. “It means a lot more now because of the loss to USC. When you lose a game, you can’t wait to play the next one and we’re really fired up.”

Of course, the fans on both sides will be fired up. Even with nothing on the line, the Civil War Game is always huge in this state. Just don’t tell that to the players, who are treating it as another day at the office.

“It’s a big state rivalry,” explained Boyett, “so it’s big for the fans and the people who live here in Oregon.  But as a player, it’s just another game and you have to handle your business accordingly.”

“I still don’t know what it means,” James claimed about the meaning of the rivalry. “I know what it means to me and (to) treat every game like it’s the Civil War, and that’s the way you’re supposed to take it. I just play this game like I’d play everybody else. That’s the way it just has to be.”

You can, however, ask some of the people who have been around the Oregon program for years. Gary Campbell, who started his tenure as the running backs’ coach in 1983, has been a part of some great Civil War Games — and some stinkers, like the infamous ‘Toilet Bowl.’

“It was a zero-zero tie,” he laughed. “It was the first time I’ve ever been involved in something like that or even heard of possible game ending with no points for either team. I was certainly pleased when they brought those ties to an end in college football. But it was a miserable game, and I don’t think either school was happy about it.”

In the games that have had winners, one guarantee is a year of humiliation for the losers. In this matchup, there is added drama. As stated previously, if the Ducks take this one, they can play for a third consecutive BCS Bowl appearance. On the other hand, if the 3-8 Beavers win, they can make their own season by putting a damper on their cross-state rivals.

“It means bragging rights for the state of Oregon,” said Campbell. “In this case, it also means the Pac-12 North. So, it’s a big deal.  It doesn’t matter what the records are between the two teams. They go out the window with the hatred between the schools. It’s a nice kind of hatred, but it’s about two teams that want to reign in the Northwest.”

“It’s a always a big game,” explained Aliotti. “It decides who is in control of the state for that year. But this time, even though you don’t like to say it, there are things riding on this weekend. If we win, we’re Pac-12 North Champs, and they’d like to take that away from us.”

Markus Wheaton and the Beavers would love to spoil the Ducks' season. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

If we learned anything from last week, it’s that we play the games for a reason. No, Oregon State is not even close to being as dangerous as USC. But they do have weapons on their offense, beginning with their freshman quarterback Sean Mannion.

“They throw the hell out of the ball,” Aliotti stated about the Beavers’ passing attack. “They have guys like Markus Wheaton and they throw it down the field a lot. They run a lot more deep routes than most teams we’ve played, and they haven’t tried to run the ball as much in past years. But I do expect them to run some to set up the throw.”

On the other side of the ball, while the OSU defense doesn’t appear scary on paper, they still possess guys like safety Lance Mitchell and cornerback Jordan Poyer. Moreover, the Beavers have this nasty tendency to get better late in the season.

“Oregon State always plays good defense,” said Campbell. “Their defensive coordinator, Mark Banker, does a great job.  They’ve got some guys that really buy into what he’s teaching, and they’ve got some good athletes who are hungry. The Beavers tend to get better as the year goes on, no matter how good or bad they are. By the end of every season, they’re much better than when they started.”

With than in mind, how do the Ducks come out ahead with more than state pride on the table?

“We’ve got to play pass defense,” said Aliotti. “That means underneath coverage, deep coverage, and rushing the quarterback. When I say that, I don’t just mean the secondary, I mean everybody.”

“The team who makes the least amount of mistakes… whoever doesn’t turn the ball over is going to win the game,” said Campbell.

With that in mind, I guess it’s time for me to tell you how this one is going to play out. Okay, I was wrong last week, but I’ve been right nine out of 11 times so far. Certainly anything can happen, and if Oregon plays a sloppy first half, they’re asking for trouble.

That being said, I don’t see that happening come Saturday. In recent seasons, the Ducks have come back more determined after a loss and have made the next opponent pay for it. We may see an almost laser-like focus from the Oregon offense at the start of this one.

Provided they take care of the ball, as Campbell said, there’s no way OSU will keep up with these guys. In the end, that will be more than enough for the Ducks to roll away with a 52-17 beat down over the Beavers.

Now onto some other items. Unless you’ve been living under a Plymouth Rock, you know that Thanksgiving is this week. That’s why I found out what some of the Ducks are thankful for.

“Thanksgiving is every day for me,” said James. “I’m very thankful to play football. I’m also thankful to be here with my friends and teammates. I’m very blessed just to be in college. That’s why I say it’s every day for me.”

“I’m just thankful to be a part of this team,” explained Boyett. “I’m thankful to play for the coaches that we have and am excited just to play another game.”

Both are very good answers from two of the sincerest players you will meet in college football. I’m certainly thankful that I get to cover a team that has (more often than not) players who act like winners on and off the field.

Oregon safety John Boyett is thankful to be part of a great football team. (Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

But that’s not all I’m appreciative about during this holiday. I’m thankful to have several wonderful family members and I’m sorry I can’t be with all of them on Thursday. I’m thankful for the many friends I’ve made over the years, as well as a few more that I’ve made in recent weeks. (You know who you are).

This Thanksgiving, however, I have one more thing to be thankful for: a wonderful opportunity at EDN. Yes, the operation has some cobwebs to clear, but I’m still very much committed to making this site the “go-to” place for local sports. Trust me, folks. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

We’ll resume our sports coverage on Friday night. Our own Alex Shoemaker will be covering the Sheldon game against Grant. The Irish will have to play better if they want to advance to the next round of the 6A OSAA playoffs. But something tells me their coach, Lane Johnson, will have his boys ready.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers. Happy Turkey Day.