I had an opportunity to attend the Portland Beaver Huddle with Mike Riley today. Here are a few notes:
As usual, KPAM 860's Bob Miller MC'ed the event. Risë (pronounced Reesa) Lakowske, the Oregon State women's golf coach took the podium first, and gave us a brief overview of the women's golf program, as well as taking some questions from the audience.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Beaver Huddle format, Mike Riley generally speaks (sometimes a player will come, but not usually) for about 20 minutes in an interview style discussion with Steve Preece.
The discussion started mainly focusing on the Utah game. Speaking about the final 2 minutes of the game, Riley said the Beavers were simply beat by Utah. Oregon State felt like they were really getting a handle on Brian Johnson and Utah in the third quarter and at the beginning of the fourth, but things changed on the final Ute drive. Riley commented on the fact that Oregon State did not employ any special coverages or move to a "prevent" defense, Utah simply "made the plays to score the points."
Riley spoke about how proud he is of his front seven, given the fact that they were all new to starting at the beginning of the season, and that OSU has competed with two highly ranked teams in consecutive weeks. He really likes the way that Stephen Paea is playing, and he thinks that Pernell Booth is playing the best football of his life. Slade Norris, who had a standout game against Utah, and Victor Butler, who played best against USC, are getting a better feel for playing every down, instead of just third down situations like they did last season. Riley spoke a lot about improvement when he moved towards the linebackers. Kristick, Cornell and Robertson/Pankey are all playing well.
The Secondary continues to be plagued with injuries. Riley said that Al Afalava and Brandon Hughes are both doubtful. Hughes pulled a hamstring, which is not something that will just go away. He's been limited, and probably won't play tomorrow. Same goes for Afalava, who has a groain muscle pull.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, because if there's any week where we could get away with missing these guys, this would probably be the best week. Now, we still need to win the game, but you know what I mean. Some of the younger guys in the secondary like Lance Mitchell and Cameron Collins will see more playing time this week.
On the kicking game, Riley talked a lot about consistency. All these guys have talent, they need consistency. Preece asked him about strategy after the missed extra point against Utah, and RIley said that as a coaching staff, they're always chasing the missed extra point in that situation. At some point they needed to go for two, and they decided to do it right away. On the first try Riley said that they had a WR wide open, but Lyle dropped the snap. The got a second chance thanks to a penalty, but the ball was dropped. Coach Riley also said that the last kickoff of the game was not a pooch, but it was simply misplaced. The wind was such a factor that they couldn't kick deep, but the call they made still wasn't executed properly as far as placement.
Offensively versus Utah, the run game was not as effective as Riley would have liked. Utah's defense had almost the same stats as SC's did prior to the game, but the Utah secondary did some things differently as far as sending pressure from the secondary to fill some holes that USC left open. Riley said they need more variety- Quizz got 100 yards, but 30 came on a draw play.
Riley is proud of his offensive line, even though "they don't get a lot of love from Coach Cav in practice." They've grown a ton, and there are lots of good stories within the group. The Offensive Line is a key part of any team's game, because without them, lots of things break down. He said that Washington State will bring all kinds of pressure, so the Beaver linemen need to know their assignments, make the adjustments, and perform.
Moving on to the wide receivers, Riley talked a lot about Sammie and Shane. Sammie is recovering from a hip pointer, which was very painful, but he's been playing as much as possible and didn't miss practice at all this week. He even had a "limp-free" day yesterday. The chemistry that Lyle and Shane Morales have developed was also a point of discussion. Riley talked about how at the slotback position, receivers are somewhat on an island between the tight end and the flanker. They have to adjust on a play-by-play basis to find the seems, and that's something Shane takes pride in. Speed is key to the success of any receiver, but Riley likes the fact that Shane possesses good fundamentals with catching the ball. And that's something that quarterbacks like- a reliable target.
When asked about the 30 point spread for this week's game, Riley responded with "We all know that point spreads don't mean a thing." He said that the coaches just have to trust that their players will do their best. It's the same formula every week for the team- study the opponent, respect the opponent, prepare like crazy, and beat them on Saturday. And that's the mindset they're trying to continue for this week's game.
A few other notes:
- Sean Canfield is back practicing and will be the backup this week.
- Tavita Thompson is due back for the Arizona State game, but Riley doesn't think he will be placed back into the starting lineup immediately.
- Riley doesn't know if Jeremy Perry will play this season... the nagging leg injury is keeping him from stringing practices together. Even though it seemed like Riley said "I don't know" in regards to Perry a million times, it seems like a longshot at this point.
- Riley talked about Laybourne's PI call.... it's history now, so we don't need to talk about it here.
- A member of the audience asked Riley about his tendency to give Quizz the majority of the carries, while Francis and McCants stay on the sideline. Riley said that Quizz is like Yvenson Bernard in the fact that the more he gets the ball, the better feel he gets for the game and the better he plays. Quizz is also the best all-around back on the roster, which makes it hard for Riley to substitute situationally.