Utah visits Oregon State to open season

Utah visits Oregon State to open season

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By ANNE M. PETERSON AP Sports Writer

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon State will start Sean Canfield at quarterback against Utah, then use Lyle Moevao in the second quarter.

Even if Canfield gets hot Thursday night.

"I'm locked into this deal here," coach Mike Riley said.

Canfield and Moevao competed for the top job all through camp, but neither sophomore separated himself. That's while Riley is experimenting with a rotation against the Utes.

But don't expect the same for the second half. "We have left an open book after that," he said.

Canfield and Moevao take over a team that went 10-4 last season and beat Missouri 39-38 in the Sun Bowl. The Beavers were ranked No. 21.

"You really can't prepare for two quarterbacks," Utah tackle Gabe Long said. "You just know that you just have to respect them both because they both can be a threat in the game. They both have their own techniques."

Neither Canfield or Moevao have much experience. The Beavers' QB last season, Matt Moore, has moved on to the Dallas Cowboys.

"As far as competing, I think you just need to go out there and have a good start and not really worry about coming out and sharing time," Canfield said. "The more you think about it the worse you do out there."

The Utes of the Mountain West Conference went 8-5 last season, capped by a 25-13 win over Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Coach Kyle Whittingham suggested the Beavers look back a couple of years to get a sense of their team. Quarterback Brian Johnson didn't play last season after knee surgery.

In 2005, before he blew out his knee, Johnson completed 210 of 330 passes for 2,892 yards and 18 touchdowns and ran 152 times for 478 yards and eight TDs.

"If I were Oregon State, I would look at the 2005 season. I'd have it cut up, broken down and analyzed. But they're smart coaches and I'm sure they've already done that," Whittingham said.

"When you look at the offense, the quarterback is what you want to look at," he said.

Johnson is anxious to return.

"To keep your emotions in check, you've just got to rely on your preparation. Stay focused, remain calm and know that this is not your first game playing," he said. "At the same time, it's almost kind of like riding a bike. I've been there."

The Utes have nine starters back on their spread offense, including Johnson.

They were hit on offense when left tackle Jason Boone, a starter for two seasons, tore a knee ligament during a non-contact drill. Left guard Zane Beadles is moving from left guard to take Boone's place.

Oregon State's offense is stung by the absence of Sammie Stroughter, who was set to be the Pac-10's top returning receiver. Stroughter has had personal issues and only recently returned to practice. He is not expected to play Thursday.

Oregon still has a offensive weapon in Yvenson Bernard, who rushed for 1,307 yards last season and 12 touchdowns. He also had 43 catches for 276 yards and a score.

Bernard starts the season with 2,648 rushing yards, third all-time at Oregon State.

"He's not big but he's quick and he's fast," Whittingham said. "We're going to have our hands full, that's for sure."

Oregon State leads the series against Utah, 8-4-1, although the Utes have won the last two, in 1991 and '92.

Utah has a tough non-conference schedule. In addition to Oregon State, the Utes play No. 14 UCLA and No. 10 Louisville.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-08-29-07 1118MDT

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