Today's Oregon St. practice, the contact portion of a double that will also include more drills this evening, saw a dose of intensity and focus not seen previously during this year's summer practices, and it may be what takes the team to the next level.
It came as a result of head coach Mike Riley deciding it was time to not only get directly involved in coaching a number of the position groups, but also to get everyone's attention when necessarily. Loudly.
We even had a "Gosh, Dang It!" after an episode of mis-run routes.
The fire the defense has been showing spread to the offense, especially in a goal-line offense drill, and carried over into the ensuing mid-field 11 on 11 session, but it resulted in more hooping and hollering and less focus than Riley wanted, which resulted in the drill being stopped, and the entire team getting a long, loud lecture, ending with a louder "Got it?"
"The fire is good, but I've got to settle it down so it doesn't continue," Riley explained afterwards. These guys want to win, and they're playing hard. When you get down to the goal line, they get mad if they don't stop them and the others get mad if they don't score, so it's a fairly natural reaction. Now, what I'm trying to prevent is somebody throwing a punch and getting kicked out of a game and being stupid."
Historically, when the normally mild mannered Riley who rarely micromanages and doesn't call people out, at least publicly, gets fired up, it gets results. We'll see if that's the case again in the days to come.
Realistically, not everyone needed the chewing out, as Trent Bray and Keaton Kristic have the linebackers playing like the strength of the team everyone expected them to be, and Joe Seumalo has the o-line way ahead of where many expected they would be with the loss of 3 starters.
But clearly Riley has decided its time to manage the tone of preparations for the coming season.
"We've got a season to get ready for. We are a team, and we've got to start to play like it," Riley emphasized.
On the injury front, WR Victor Bolden was back in shells, and so too was CB Dashon Hunt, but both were held out of contact drills.
LB DJ Alexander, WR Richard Mullaney, FB Tyler Anderson, and WR Rahmel Dockery were all still out of action with their recent dings, and WR Hunter Jarmon left part way through the day with a pulled groin.