Oregon State's Moore top QB going into spring drills

Updated: March 23, 2006, 7:07 PM ET
Associated Press

Spring football at Oregon State is almost two weeks away, but coach Mike Riley is already dispelling the notion of a quarterback controversy.

"Matt Moore will be our incumbent quarterback in spring practice and we'll let it go from there," Riley said Thursday in Corvallis as he and his staff prepared for workouts starting April 3.

Moore, a transfer from UCLA, started well last season and showed toughness, but lacked consistency. Before he hurt his knee in the season's second-to-last game, he passed for 2,711 yards, 11 touchdowns and had 19 interceptions.

His backup, Ryan Gunderson, completed 22 of 43 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown in the final game of the year, the Civil War. He was intercepted four times.

Some questioned whether Riley should have turned to Gunderson sooner, as Moore's interceptions mounted. But Riley was solid in his support of Moore.

"I thought Matt did a lot of great things for us last year, and I'm glad we had him," Riley said.

Last season was a disappointment for Oregon State, which finished 5-6 overall and 3-5 in the Pacific-10 Conference. The year ended with a resounding thud as the Beavers fell 56-14 to rival Oregon in the Civil War.

As the team looks forward to a fresh start, there are some big holes to fill, including the gaps left by NFL hopefuls Mike Hass, the Biletnikoff Award winner, and linebacker Keith Ellison.

But the Beavers return a solid running game in Yvenson Bernard, and barring disaster they should have tight end Joe Newton, who was injured before fall camp started and was lost for the season.

Riley called Newton a "big guy who can run and catch the ball," and a threat in the red zone and on third down.

"I'm very anxious to have him back and work with him in our offense," Riley said.

Bernard, a junior next season, rushed for 1,321 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Oregon State loses 13 seniors, but the Beavers are a fairly young team, with returnees including kicker Alexis Serna, strong safety Sabby Piscitelli and slotback Anthony Wheat-Brown.

Serna was particularly dependable, making 23 of 28 field goals last season. He has made 61 straight extra points and won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's best placekicker.

Riley said his team is eager to erase the memories of last season, when they started 4-2 and upset California, then lost four of their last five games.

"We had a chance to take off, and for whatever reason, we did not," the coach said. "Every day you've got to get better. Every game you've got to get batter."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press