This is the fourth of a nine-part series previewing each of Arizona State’s rivals in the Pac-10. According to Sabby Piscitelli, the Oregon State football team does not have to look far to find an example of team chemistry and execution to emulate.
All the Beavers need to do is look across their athletic complex, where the baseball team boasts a shiny, new national championship trophy.
“What they did was amazing,” Piscitelli, a highly regarded OSU safety, told The Oregonian. “So much motivation and determination. . . . I told some of our guys that what made Oregon State win was their chemistry and how they were a family. We need that on this team. We need to be a family.”
The Beavers might have the family part down pat already, given all of the tough love they have endured since the start of last season.
In 2005, OSU lost four of its last five games to finish with a losing record. Transfer quarterback Matt Moore suffered from high-profile inconsistency. This summer, the Beavers had preseason personnel problems for a second straight year, as coach Mike Riley suspended three backup players for off-field transgressions.
“Character-wise, I want to see a continuation of how we practiced in the spring,” Riley said. “I liked how this team was businesslike. We didn’t have a lot of problems or things to deal with; we focused on football, focused on getting better.
“I’d really like to see this team focus on the facet of the team. We’ve really got to be a band together and not an individual, selfish group.”
On offense, Oregon State has the potential to be an extremely productive group. All five offensive linemen return, as does running back Yvenson Bernard, who rushed for 1,321 yards and 13 touchdowns in ’05. Tight end Joe Newton, who missed all of last year with a leg injury, is healthy again.
The key will be Moore, who Riley thinks has matured enough to avoid the frequent interceptions and mistakes from a season ago. The ex-UCLA signal caller tied for the Division I-A lead with 19 passes picked off.
“You’ve got to let mistakes go,” Moore told The Oregonian. “If you can’t play the next play with confidence and let go of the past, then you’re just setting yourself up for failure.”
Kicker Alexis Serna, who two years ago was more known for his dramatic extra-point failures in an overtime loss at Louisiana State, bounced back in 2005. He made 23 of 28 field goals and won the Lou Groza Award.
For Serna, tough love paid off. The Beavers hope for the same.