Stout Beaver D poses tough test for Cougs

CHRIS IVORY

WHILE OREGON STATE will be without two defensive starters, and three players total, for the first half against Washington State, the OSU defense remains rock solid, said Bill Doba -- as evidenced by the lauded d-line. The emergence of running back Chris Ivory last Saturday was a welcome sight for Coug fans, but will WSU be able to run against Oregon State's defense? Because no one else has.

"Chris Ivory is big time back," said Doba. "He's a big kid that has speed. He can plant that foot and make that cut. This week's going to be difficult to run against that defense."

Indeed. Oregon State is No. 1 in the nation against the run, allowing a paltry 62 yards a game. In total defense, they rate No. 10 nationally.

"This one will be a real tough one for us. I think Oregon State defensively is one of the best defenses in the conference -- I was talking to a pro scout and he likes a lot of their defensive linemen better than he likes SC's," said Doba.

Oregon State will be without -- for the first half -- starting right cornerback Brandon Hughes, starting safety Bryan Payton and special teams player James Dockery. The three were all ejected for fighting in the Washington game. NCAA rules require each of the players to miss half of the next game since the infractions came in the second half.

WASHINGTON STATE's '07 offensive identity has been to throw the ball with a senior quarterback and a deep receiving corps and an uber-productive pass catching tight end. But while Washington State has racked up the yards this season, they've had difficulty putting points on the board after moving into enemy territory.

QB Alex Brink now holds all of WSU's major career passing records but the marks have come in the absence of a bowl game season, and WSU will need to win their final two to become bowl eligible in Brink's senior season. Doba, however, said there is another worthy goal for his senior quarterback in addition to the bowl aspirations.

"He's made some plays here in the last couple of weeks... in our last ballgame there was a play that I was just hoping he'd throw it out of bounds but and he found somebody, he found (Brandon) Gibson for a 40-yard gain," said Doba. "...I think if he could beat the Huskies three out of four years, that would be a good achievement, too."

DOBA SAID the veterans and seniors, veterans and key players are spending more time looking at tape and asking more questions as they've come down the regular season's stretch run.

"And it really started after the Oregon game. I think we got embarrassed there and I think our kids came back and kind of rededicated themselves. The UCLA game was huge for us," said Doba.

A key factor in Washington State winning two of the last three games has been the resurgence of the defense, and Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week Husain Abdullah has played a pivotal role.

Doba said there was an adjustment period for Abdullah and his secondary mates with Leon Burtnett moving over to coach the safeties, along with new corners coach David Walkosky. Also, with improved play by corners Chima Nwachukwu and Devin Giles, and the move to the 3-4 alignment, Abdullah has been freed up to move closer to the line and into more run support.

It has been a great fit.

"The closer he is to the line of scrimmage, the better he plays. He's aggressive enough to be a linebacker," said Doba.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Romeen Abdollmohammadi has connected on 7 straight field goals, including his 4-for-4 performance against Stanford. "The guy that we put on scholarship has come back," said Doba. "He's a great kid, too."

  • As reported earlier, Doba said tight end Jed Collins (ankle) is now probable for Oregon State.

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