Thursday, October 11, 2007

Oregonian: Clark tells Cal to cross at his corner

Here is the link.

The OSU sophomore, replacing injured Keenan Lewis, hopes fast DeSean Jackson comes his way -


CORVALLIS -- There isn't a hint of fear in sophomore cornerback Tim Clark's voice when he talks about making his first start against No. 2 California's DeSean Jackson, considered by many the most dangerous player in college football.  Clark said he isn't concerned about Cal quarterback Nate Longshore picking on him during Saturday's game in Berkeley.  "Do I think they might come after me?" said Clark, repeating a question. "I hope so."  In other words, Clark said, bring it on. Ah, youth.  "I want to be a playmaker," Clark said. "I know I'm a playmaker. . . . So I hope they do come after me."  He probably can count on it.  Clark, a 6-foot, 175-pound sophomore from Compton, Calif., has spent most of his OSU career playing on special teams, waiting for the call in the event that something might happen to one of the team's veteran cornerbacks, Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes.

The call came last week.  Lewis, perhaps the Beavers' best cornerback, was injured in the Arizona game and will be lost two to three weeks with a knee strain.  That puts Clark in front of the Versus Network cameras at Memorial Stadium, as the depleted OSU secondary deals with a potent Cal receiving corps that includes Robert Jordan and Lavelle Hawkins on one side and Jackson -- who can score any time he touches the ball -- on the other side.  It is not a good week for OSU to be without Lewis, but coach Mike Riley said he has confidence that Clark can fill in adequately.  Riley said he has not lost sleep this week wondering if Jackson -- a leading Heisman Trophy candidate -- will beat Clark deep or turn him into a pretzel with a juke move.  "The fact of the matter is, every corner who plays the game is going to be isolated at times," Riley said. "Tim Clark is a good player. We see him as a younger version of the two guys that start, so we're very confident in his play."  Riley said the Beavers won't try to flip-flop Clark to keep him away from being matched up one-on-one with Jackson. And OSU won't alter its scheme, which calls for hands-on press coverage by its cornerbacks.

Clark, asked about perhaps giving Jackson some room out of respect for his speed, said: "I'm still pressing. I'm not changing anything I do."  Lewis was in a walking cast Tuesday, hobbling around the Valley Center while his teammates talked excitedly about their shot at upsetting the Bears.  "Keenan's been doing everything he can to help me get ready," Clark said.  Lewis and Clark have watched tape, studying the Cal receivers. Hughes has helped, too.  "When he came in the Arizona game, I was in his ear," Hughes said. "I was probably in his ear a little too much. I just wanted him to be aware of the situation, to know that they would probably go his way."  Clark's performance, good or bad, probably will be a major factor at Cal.  "This is a great 'coming out' game for him," said Hughes, who has two interceptions and a team-leading six pass break-ups this season.

Lewis said, "He knows they're definitely going to challenge him, and it's vital that he responds."  Clark said he isn't nervous about playing in a nationally televised game against the No. 2 team.  "I wouldn't call it being nervous, I would call it being anxious," he said. "I'm anxious to let people see that we're deeper than they think at the (defensive back) position.  "And really, how often do you get a chance like this? Playing a nationally ranked team, in front of a national audience? . . . Doesn't matter to me what their ranking is, I'm just going to be out there competing. I'm just going to be out there playing ball."  He's playing ball against a wide receiver/punt returner who has been compared to former USC star Reggie Bush for his explosiveness.  He's playing ball against DeSean Jackson.  "I respect him as a ballplayer," Clark said. "He's good. He's fast. He uses his speed as a weapon. But give him room? Personally, I don't want to (back off) because I think I'll do better when I'm up on him, within arm's reach. . . . Plus, I feel like I can run with anybody, you know?"  So is it watch out, Tim Clark? Or watch out, DeSean Jackson?  We will find out Saturday.


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