Erickson praises his successor at OSU

CORVALLIS — With his current team in a deep rut, Dennis Erickson is admiring the job his Oregon State successor is doing.

"Mike Riley has done the best job of coaching I've seen in the country over the last six or seven years," said the Arizona State coach, who led the Beavers from 1999-2002.

Erickson hopes the Sun Devils can snap a five-game skid when they come to Corvallis Saturday to play Oregon State. A loss to the Beavers would tie a school record for consecutive defeats that dates back to 1929.

The Beavers (4-3, 3-1 Pacific-10 Conference) have won four of five after starting the season with losses to Stanford and Penn State, and are coming off of a bye week.

The Sun Devils (2-5, 1-3) are coming off a demoralizing 54-20 home loss to Oregon.

Quarterback Rudy Carpenter will start for Arizona State despite an ankle injury.

Carpenter threw for 361 yards and four touchdowns against the Beavers last year, leading Arizona State back from a 19-0 deficit to win 44-32 at Sun Devil Stadium.

"This is a dangerous team," Riley said at a Tuesday news conference. "They are searching for that last stretch run in the season that can form an identity for themselves. The expectations were so high for that team for a reason."

Those expectations have come to haunt Erickson as the Sun Devils have stumbled through the past month and half. Erickson, who won two national titles at Miami, suggested expectations were too high going into the season, likening his squad to his 2001 Oregon State team.

"We had Ken Simonton and Jonathan Smith coming back, who were Heisman Trophy candidates," Erickson said, "but we lost our whole defense and a lot of our offensive line, so we weren't as good as everybody thought."

Oregon State went 5-6 that year, after finishing 11-1 in 2000. Erickson left for the NFL in 2002. Riley is 43-27 in six seasons since under Riley, with bowl appearances in every year except 2005.

"I don't know if there is anybody in the country who does a better job at coaching," Erickson said. "I really don't. Their players play hard all the time, and it's a hard place to play when you go up there."


THOMPSON'S BACK: Oregon State offensive tackle Tavita Thompson will play this week after serving a yearlong NCAA suspension for testing positive for a banned substance contained in an over-the-counter supplement.

The 6-foot-6, 308-pound Thompson last played Oct. 13, 2007 against California. He has practiced with the Beavers during his suspension. He played left tackle in 2007 but will probably rotate in with right tackle Mike Remmer, a redshirt freshman.

"Davit's going to play," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "How we are going to do that I can't say yet." U

EXTRA POINTS: Oregon State offensive guard Jeremy Perry (knee) will miss the Arizona State game. Tight end Gabe Miller, who reinjured a leg injury in practice, is questionable. QB Lyle Moevao has completed 148 of 234 passes this season (62 percent) and his 254-yard average is tops in the Pac-10.

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