NEWS

Two QBs from Oregon to face off in Browns, Jets game

Steve Doerschuk

Browns vs. Jets. Beavers vs. Ducks. Anderson vs. Clemens.

The Browns hope this mix washes out Sunday just as it did Nov. 21, 2004.

Playing his final Oregon State home game, Derek Anderson was on fire against archrival Oregon. He passed for 351 yards and four touchdowns in a 50-21 blowout.

It was a cold Saturday night for Oregon’s Kellen Clemens, who was intercepted three times and threw for 126 yards.

“Anderson and (wideout Mike) Hass were exceptional,” Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti said in his concession speech. “They are two of the more quality players in college football.”

Hass, who caught nine passes, told reporters, “Derek has taken so much hard press from people. He showed tonight how good he really was here.”

How good are they three years later? They’ll take turns answering that question Sunday when the Browns battle the Jets.

A third-year Brown, Anderson is 7-7 as an NFL starter, 7-4 this year. A second-year Jet, Clemens is 2-3 since replacing Chad Pennington and is coming off a blowout win over Miami.

Oregon vs. Oregon State, the 111-game-old “Civil War,” is as good as football gets in Oregon. The 2004 version was as embarrassing as it gets for the Ducks, who had never been pelted for 50 points by the Beavers.

Clemens outplayed Anderson a year earlier, passing for three TDs and running for one in a 34-20 win aided by two Anderson interceptions.

Sunday stands as the rubber match, with high personal stakes for both young passers from Oregon.

Anderson grew up in Scappoose, a short drive north of populous Portland.

Clemens hails from Burns, between Iron Mountain and King Mountain in the middle of nowhere.

Anderson is the only player to be named state high school football and basketball player of the year in Oregon’s 3A classification.

Clemens is a cowboy from a family of ranchers that began herding cattle in the days of the old West.

Anderson grew to 6-foot-6. Clemens is four inches shorter but with an arm just as big, more mobility and more perceived “it.” At least, that was the case when the Jets drafted Clemens in Round 2 in 2006. Anderson was picked in Round 6 a year earlier.

Anderson has made himself a hotter item, ranking among league leaders in passing yards and touchdowns for a playoff contender.

Clemens’ team is going nowhere, but he earned his first NFL win as a starter Nov. 18 against Pittsburgh. A week earlier, Anderson lost at Pittsburgh.

Their lives seem intertwined.

Clemens was born June 6, 1983. Anderson arrived nine days later.

They were hardly next-door neighbors -- Scappoose and Burns are 300 miles apart. But ...

When Clemens was in high school, he drove three hours from the family ranch to the nearest big airport in Boise. He flew to the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Los Angeles, where invitees included Matt Leinart and a tall kid named Derek.

Clemens’ head coach is Eric Mangini, who got his NFL start in Cleveland.

Anderson’s head coach is Romeo Crennel, who was Mangini’s boss and mentor in New England.

Both are auditioning for longterm starting roles after opening the season behind former Mid-American Conference quarterbacks.

Neither fits the glamor-boy image of a star quarterback.

“I’m no different than anybody else,” Clemens told the Portland Tribune in 2004. “Ignorance would be my biggest asset.

“Growing up on a ranch shaped my life incredibly. I learned work ethic, responsibility, about being independent.”

The pride of Scappoose, population 4,976. The cowboy from Burns, population 3,064.

Oregon meets the Big Apple. Small world.

Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com