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Tuesday, August 18, 2009
It looks like Canfield will be the man for Beavers


Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- There have been no press conferences, no dramatic headlines nor any sort of coronation, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Sean Canfield will be Oregon State's starting quarterback on Sept. 5 when Portland State comes to town.

And it's not just that fellow senior Lyle Moevao, the starter in 2008, isn't fully recovered from a shoulder injury.

 
  AP Photo/Wily Low
  Sean Canfield says that he is "that guy who needs to lead this team to where it wants to go."

Canfield, beginning last spring and continuing through preseason practices, has been at the top of his game. Folks who have been watching practices every day use terms like "lights out."

According to coach Mike Riley, Canfield has completed nearly 70 percent of his throws during fall camp, which "has never happened before, for anybody."

Well, somebody, somewhere might have done that, but it's clear that Canfield's play has raised a few eyebrows in the coaching offices.

Canfield doesn't hesitate to agree. He's feeling it.

"I think I'm that guy," he said. "I feel like I'm that guy who needs to lead this team to where it wants to go."

Speaking of going places, it's hard to believe Canfield arrived at this point. If anyone understands what Moevao might be going through, it's Canfield, because last year his career was mostly written off while he was the one recovering slowly from a shoulder problem and Moevao was turning heads.

Moevao passed for 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2008, and almost surely would have eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark if he hadn't gotten hurt.

Meanwhile, Canfield was quietly stuck on the bench, and most folks only remembered him as the guy who threw 15 interceptions while being the the primary starter over Moevao in 2007.

Moevao, at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds, wasn't the pretty picture that the 6-foot-4, 214-pound Canfield was, but he was a charismatic, cool-as-a-cucumber leader who made it abundantly clear he just loved playing football.

Canfield noticed.

"Early on, it was a growth and development thing for me as far as leadership and quarterbacking," he said. "I've always known I had the physical tools. It's a credit to Lyle. He's a great leader and he has a lot of fun when he plays. I picked up on that."

Then Moevao got hurt in the eighth game against Arizona State.

Enter a new-and-improved Canfield, who came off the bench and led the Beavers to a victory over the Sun Devils and then also won games as the starter against UCLA and Arizona.

Sure, he completed 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and two interceptions while Moevao was out. But it was more than numbers and efficiency.

The San Diego native's "California cool" veneer -- it wasn't always meant positively -- fell away and he started to have fun. To bark and howl even. As he loosened up, he also leaned more on his instincts and became less mechanical.

Most important, like Moevao before him, Canfield wanted his teammates to see him enjoying himself.

"I've learned that being more fiery in games and a little more vocal has made it a lot more fun for me," he said. "Winning those three games was the best time of my life. I just want to keep that going. This is my fifth year and it only comes around once."

This new-and-improved Canfield -- or is this just the case of a guy growing up? -- isn't the sort to fret about losing Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales, the Beavers' top two receivers last fall, and then seeing Darrell Catchings go down with a season-ending hand injury.

"Look out for some of the young talent we've got at receiver," he said.

Nor is he going to look over his shoulder when adversity inevitably strikes this season and worry that Riley is going to give him a quick hook and go with Moevao.

"I don't think about that," he said. "That's outside my control and I've learned you can't worry about things outside your control. It does you no good and those are just negative thoughts."

While he's got a ways to go, it's not ridiculous to suggest that the right sort of season could put Canfield back on the NFL radar. He knows that and that's his life-long dream.

But he's got one major goal this season that he's focusing on.

"I just want to have fun," he said.