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Riley Meets the Press :: August 27

Head Coach Mike Riley met with the press yesterday as part of preparation Utah, and had this to say:

"We are excited about game week. This is our day 3 of the countdown toward the ball game. I think we've had an excellent camp, in a lot of ways. And I think the best thing about it had been the focus of the players. We've gotten good physical football work. The lack of distractions has been very, very good."

"Now we've got Utah. They've been a top program now for a few years. They hit the national spot light. They present a number of problems with their offense, their versatility, personnel groups, their formations; their backup quarterbacks become the 12th man as a running back, an extra guy to run the football. I think we'll see the gamut of things and probably some new stuff from them as they've developed."

Riley is talking about Utah's back-up QB Tommy Grady, He's a transfer from Oklahoma (former backup of Jason White) who stands at 6-7, 235. Their third string guy is Chad Manis, who is big in his own right (6-5, 215). But it's their starter we should be most worried about, and that's Brian Johnson, who is ready to pick up where he left off after he red shirted in 2006.

"Defensively they have always played very good, sound defense. In their package they have a mixed bag of stuff also. They go from a 4-4-3 to a 3-4 and depending on the team their playing they'll major in sometimes man to man, sometimes in zone, sometimes in cover two."

"In our preparation, we have to be ready for quite a large variety of stuff. And, we have to be able to block it, and protect it and be efficient in reading the defenses and throwing the football and catching it."

"Us finding balance. We can run the ball and we have the makings and a proven commodity in running the football, but we can't be one dimensional. The final goal is to be a balance. Meaning that we are effective running and throwing on first and second down and we all know what we have to do on the 3rd down."

This is my biggest concern for the game. We need to run the ball effectively early to break in our young QB's and give them some confidence under the lights. But also, we need to keep the Utah defense balanced. Their defensive secondary doesn't seem to have very much experience, so that could be a plus for Sean and Lyle. But remember, Canfield will start the first quarter, then Moevao will come in for the second. But remember, the last time Moevao was in the spotlight was two years ago at El Camino College. Unless you count when he lost in the finals of the team rock-paper-scissors tournament to Al Afalava.

On the quarterback situation

"I don't see why they both can't play well. I have noticed a kind of a growing confidence in both of them; as the last 3 or 4 days of practice have occurred I have felt a good feeling from both of them. And like I said initially, I wanted to pick a quarterback and they never really allowed that, or separated from each other. And in the mean time, I think that when they heard how we were going to do it, they got ready to go separately and their doing a nice job and I like what I see and I really have a sense that they can and will both play well."

"Our guys do well a little differently. It works only if those two guys make it work. They have to continue to compete and mostly they have to really prepare to play quarterback. There has got to be a lot of trust involved, between all the parties. When you've decided that these guys are close enough they should both play, those intangible things take over and that really is the key to success."

I agree. Let's just try both of these guys out for game one. Besides, how can you expect the coaching staff to make a decision when the two guys are neck-and-neck? Lyle has to feel like he has as good of a shot to play as Sean, so how could the coaches say no to him? Let's just see how it plays out.
On the Sammie Stroughter situation

"Sammie came to the meetings and the walk through yesterday. And I wouldn't read too much into it yet as far as playing time, I'm not. I think he came out and had fun the other day. And I'm not going any further with it than that. This is all on his time and it will be his time and his family's decision. There are no parameters on his return."

"Now I didn't think he'd show up catching punts the other day, when I walked on the field. `Cause I had visited with him that morning and there was no plan for that. He just went down, got dressed and went down and caught some punts. And then played scout d receiver. But I am sticking with what was said at first, that I am not anticipating him playing in games this year, but I've been surprised already."

On Alexis Serna punting and place kicking

"Well Alexis continues to be a great member of this team and willing to do whatever he can. He's the one who came to me right after Kyle Loomis decided not to play, and said I want to punt for this team. Now I think he's done very, very well. He's got one year to be a punter, he's got a big future as a place kicker, beyond Oregon State, and he wanted to do it, and he's been very consistent and that's what I've liked the most. He hits the ball with as much consistency as any guy we've had and he does it quickly, so time isn't a factor. I've been impressed. And I think with what we want from a punter, ideally, and with the athleticism of our punt team I think that this looks good and now we've got to go see if it does."

Who will be returning kicks

"Taylor Kavanaugh is going to be our punt returner; Gerard Lawson will back him up. We're trying to get James Rodgers involved in that mix eventually and I think he'll be able to do that at some point. And then Gerard Lawson and Anthony Brown are going to be our kickoff returners, backed up by James Rodgers and Chris Johnson."

Who will be backing up Bernard

"Right now Matt Sieverson is the number one back up at our running back position, Patrick Fuller is in there, Andy Stewart is in there. Those are the guys that, as we progress closer to the game, they're getting the repetitions to play. That's where it is right now."