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Beyond the hype

Oregon State's Moore let talk get to him before last year's game against UCLA, his former team; now he's part of bigger story.

November 09, 2006|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

The build-up before last year's UCLA-Oregon State football game got to Matt Moore, and it boiled over during warmups when the Bruins student section took aim at the Beavers quarterback.

"I was so stupid for even listening to all of those people," said Moore, who struggled against his former team in UCLA's 51-28 victory.

"It really doesn't matter to me this year. I might go out there with headphones on, who knows."

Although Moore passed for two touchdowns and 279 yards last season against the Bruins, two of his passes were intercepted and he was replaced late in the game by Ryan Gunderson. Not the type of homecoming Moore had envisioned.

On Saturday, back at the Rose Bowl, Moore will get another chance against the program he left three years ago. But this time, he starts for an Oregon State team that is on a roll, having won four in a row, including a victory that ended USC's 27-game Pacific 10 Conference winning streak.

The key to the Beavers' resurgence has been Moore, who is doing well after a 2005 season in which 19 of his passes were intercepted, tied for the most in Division I-A.

"Matt is just continuing to grow in the offense," Oregon State Coach Mike Riley said. "We had a very similar situation with Derek Anderson. He played his best football ... the last six or seven games of his Oregon State career. I think we're seeing the same type of growth with Matt."

In the last four games, Moore has completed 65.4% of his passes for 1,033 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions.

"We're at a good level right now," Moore said. "After beating SC, the key for us ... is to stay humble but hungry at the same time."

Entering last year's game, a lot of the focus was on Moore, a Newhall Hart graduate who started five games in two seasons at UCLA before transferring.

It was Moore vs. UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell. It was Moore vs. UCLA quarterback Drew Olson. It was Moore vs. the entire UCLA football program.

"It was built up by the media because it was about Matt and Drew and why he left," said UCLA receiver Junior Taylor, a senior who played with Moore for two seasons. "That's why everyone was into it."

There are other story lines this time. Dorrell is now focusing on trying to end a four-game losing streak, Olson is on the practice roster of the Baltimore Ravens, and only 19 players -- the majority of them redshirt freshmen in 2003 -- remain from Moore's last season with the Bruins.

"Last year, people made it such a big deal because a lot of guys were still there that I played with," he said. "I can't name seven guys on the team that I knew when I was there. The whole hype deal is over."

Moore's glad that the bigger story now is the 6-3 Beavers, who still have a chance to finish third in the Pac-10 after being tied for seventh a month ago.

Oregon's State's resurgence can be tied directly to its quarterback. In the Beavers' fourth game, Moore passed for only 187 yards in a 41-13 loss to California as some of the home fans in Corvallis booed him and chanted the name of backup quarterback Sean Canfield.

"It was pretty bleak as far as how everyone was feeling about how the season was going," Riley said afterward. "You can't help but hear things from the outside negatively."

The next week, Moore played better in a close loss to Washington State, and he followed that with a breakout game at Washington on Oct. 14, passing for 308 yards and a touchdown in a 27-17 victory that ignited the team's winning streak.

"He's commanding his offense really well," Dorrell said of Moore. "Right now they are playing with a lot of confidence and Matt is leading that."

Said Moore: "I'm having a ball. No regrets for me going to Oregon State."

lonnie.white@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Moore in '06

Matt Moore's game-by-game statistics:

*--* Opponent PA PC Yds TD Int Eastern Washington 14 7 88 2 0 Boise State 17 12 115 1 1 Idaho 31 16 169 1 1 California 27 18 187 0 0 Washington State 34 18 223 0 1 Washington 19 14 308 1 1 Arizona 22 16 181 1 2 USC 32 21 262 1 0 Arizona State 31 17 282 1 0 Totals 227 139 1815 8 6

*--*

Source: osubeavers.com

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