It's easy to get caught up in what could lie ahead for this 2009 Oregon State football team with a win Thursday in the 113th Civil War.
But it's also easy to remember the result of last year's game, which occurred under the same circumstances for OSU.
The challenge for Mike Riley and his coaching staff this week will be to focus his team on the task at hand-- Thursday's game, and Thursday's game only.
"One thing we learned is we have to live in a bubble and focus on the task at hand," linebacker Keith Pankey told the Gazette-Times. "We can't worry about what could come. And that got us in trouble last year."
One way that Riley is looking to cut down on the distractions is by asking for some privacy in practices this week. While some coaches are anal about closed practices, Riley, staying true to form, takes a more relaxed approach. Even Oregonian beat writer Paul Buker admits:
When Riley "closes'' practices it is usually understood that the media members who cover the team full-time can hang around as long as they don't become a pain in the rear end.
Things are a bit different down the road in Eugene, where UO head coach Chip Kelly has his practices on lock-down "to embrace the traditions of the Civil War". There's been plenty written about that.
More from Riley on staying focused and not looking too far down the road:
"I've asked our team to not think about past the game," Riley said. "Our focus has to be on playing our best game, and we'll need it. The things after the game won't matter if you don't win. So why talk about it? We have a lot to deal with getting ready for the Ducks."
"It's something to be aware of and cautioned against," Riley said. "You can't put yourself into something until you are in it. We've had to stay in the moment to survive until now. Why change now? If you talk too much about it, then you are wasting time not dwelling on what's important."
It seems that all signs are pointing towards the fact that the Beavers will be mentally ready for this game. With twelve days to rest and prepare, plus a favorable late season schedule-- one didn't tax the team as much as the 2008 homestretch did-- there's plenty of reason to believe that the team will be physically ready for the challenge as well.
--Jake | (firstname.lastname@example.org) | Twitter