As Saturday's game at No. 15 Oregon State rapidly approaches, DuckTerritory examines five Beaver players Duck fans should acquaint themselves with before kickoff. Below is all the pertinent information you will need to identify the biggest weapons on both offense and defense for Oregon’s opponent heading in to the weekend.
Will Oregon senior running back Kenjon Barner enjoy better success against Oregon State's talented front seven than he did Stanford's?
5. #16 CB Rashaad Reynolds - JR - 5'11", 186 lbs. - Pacoima (Calif.) San Fernando
Largely overshadowed by bookend cornerback Jordan Poyer in the Beaver defensive backfield, Reynolds has slowly but surely emerged as one of the top players on a talented, yet overachieving, defense. Not particularly heavily recruited out of high school, Reynolds claimed a starting cornerback position last season as a sophomore, starting all 12 games and ranking fifth on the team in tackles with 68. This season, Reynolds has taken the next step in his development as a burgeoning star. Hard-nosed with a tremendous competitive streak, Reynolds is currently tied for the team lead in total tackles (61) and ranks second behind Poyer in interceptions with two.
4. #95 DE Scott Crichton - SO - 6'3", 263 lbs. - Tacoma (Wash.) Henry Foss
Bursting on to the scene as an impact freshman a year ago, Oregon State sophomore defensive end Scott Crichton hasn't let up one iota since his stellar debut season. As a redshirt freshman in 2011, Crichton led the Beavers in sacks (6.0) and was tops in the nation among freshmen in forced fumbles (6) and tackles for loss (14.5). Through 10 games this season, Crichton has already eclipsed those impressive statistics. Coupling great athleticism with an unrelenting desire to inflict pain on the quarterback, Crichton has tallied 15.0 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks; totals that not only lead the Beavers, but rank no worse than sixth overall in the entire Pac-12 Conference. Between him and fellow defensive end Dylan Wynn, the Oregon offensive line will face another significant challenge up front on the heels of their poor performance against Stanford the the week before.
3. #7 WR Brandin Cooks - SO - 5'10", 179 lbs. - Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln
After arriving in Corvallis as one of the most anticipated true freshman in the Beavers' 2011 recruiting class, Brandin Cooks legitimized the hype and has now risen to be mentioned among the best wide receivers in the conference. Trailing only USC's Marqise Lee, Cooks ranks second in the Pac-12 in receiving yards per game (103.9), while leading his team in total receiving yards with 1,039 on 58 receptions. Teamed with fellow wide receiver Markus Wheaton, the pair forms as one of the most deadly receiving combinations in the conference, if not the nation. Cooks' speed and elusiveness makes him particularly difficult to cover, meaning the Oregon secondary will have to be on their toes all afternoon long in Corvallis on Saturday.
2. #2 WR Markus Wheaton - SR - 6'1", 182 lbs. - Chandler (Ariz.)
Against the Ducks in 2010, Wheaton enjoyed what was at the time his breakout game as a collegian; catching 10 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown in a 37-20 loss to Oregon. Fast forward to 2012 and Wheaton has established himself as a serious first-team All Pac-12 performer, finally stepping out of the shadow of former Beaver receiving great, James Rodgers. Strong, speedy, and exceedingly athletic, Wheaton is the total package at wide receiver. For a second straight season, Wheaton has eclipsed 900 yards receiving and will likely break 1,000 yards in 2012 with his next reception. With 10 touchdowns to his name, there's no question that Wheaton is the go-to target in the Beaver passing game, as it's also his third straight year leading Oregon State in total receptions (69).
1. #14 CB Jordan Poyer - SR - 6'0", 190 lbs. - Astoria (Ore.)
It's not often that you'll find a cornerback assuming the title of "heart and soul" of the team, but that's exactly what Jordan Poyer is to the Oregon State Beavers. Barely recruited of high school, Beaver head coach Mike Riley plucked Poyer out of Astoria High School and has helped craft Poyer in to a sensation virtually overnight. As a sophomore, Poyer made his initial impact on special teams, accumulating 917 yards on kickoff returns to rank second behind USC's Robert Woods in the conference. In 2011, Poyer made his first major impact on defense, earning second team All Pac-12 honors while leading the Beavers in interceptions and ranking eighth in the nation in passes defended (16). In his final go-around as a senior, Poyer has authored his best season yet as a Beaver, ranking tied for second in the country in interceptions (6) and firmly establishing himself as one of the top defensive backs in the entire nation. A consummate playmaker, it should be assumed that Poyer will come up with a least one big play for Oregon State on Saturday.
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