Mike Riley Quotes from Media Day

Aug. 4, 2003

The following are quotes from Head Football Coach Mike Riley during the program's annual Media Day at the Valley Football Center.

OPENING STATEMENT FROM HEAD FOOTBALL COACH Mike Riley

'It's a great day in Beaver Nation. It's exciting to start fall camp. We start today with some new faces and a new field - a very exciting day in the football program. This is a major part of the season; I really feel training camp sets the tone for the entire season. This is the time you get into a rhythm and learning football, which sets the foundation for the season. You can't recreate the wheel during the season - that's the time to improve upon what your base is. That doesn't mean you don't add or tweak things, but your foundation and base is set right now. The players have worked hard in the spring and summer and I think there is some true excitement and optimism. We need to get the first unit players ready to go this fall, and the coaching staff needs to look at some of the younger players who might be able to help us right away. We have a pretty good idea where guys will be in terms of positions, but I also anticipate some pretty good competition.'

THE DIFFERENCES FROM YOUR FIRST YEAR TO TODAY?

'There is no secret that when we first arrived the program had been down. Looking back at my first year, the transition from the wishbone to a balanced attack was as difficult as overcoming the attitude within the program. It really feels a lot different this time around. The personnel on this team are used to the one-back offense and they have practiced with that basic concept. I have said this a couple of times -- there has been a lot going on at Oregon State University recently. Number one - attitude. Expectations are different within this program. Number two - physical differences. The athletic program is much different since Bob De Carolis and Mitch Barnhart (former A.D.) took over. There are a lot of new and exciting things. People believe they have the opportunity to win at Oregon State. I feel very fortunate to be back and be a part of this school.'

HOW HAVE YOU APPROACHED THIS JOB AS COMPARED TO THE FIRST TIME?

'All of us in this business have a vision of how they want a program to be. With this second opportunity as a college head coach, I definitely have a better picture of what I want to do.'

YOU HAVE MENTIONED THE IMPORTANCE OF ACADEMICS, DO YOU ANTICIPATE ANY OTHER PLAYERS BEING ON THE BUBBLE ACADEMICALLY?

'We still have some bubble guys, but I think most of our problems are behind us. Of course, I can't mention any names. The one thing we will do here is provide the student-athlete all the support he needs, rather that's in the weight room, training room, or academically. We need their (student-athletes) effort in all those areas. We are going to stay on top of all those things, and we hate to have failure in the academics regard. I just hate it. We have had some problems, but we are making progress.'

YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW GOOD THIS TEAM CAN BE AND THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE IN GENERAL?

'This team can be good, but I don't know for sure because it has been a while since I have been in the Pac-10 Conference. I watched games last year and I have watched as much tape on other teams as I can, but until this team gets on the field and plays somebody I won't be sure. I'm excited about this team. I'm not a predictor, but I feel good about this team and I'm anxious to see where we can go. We have some areas where there are some question marks. Our cornerbacks are going to be new, and it's a crucial position. We have had some attrition at wide receiver, so the question is who is going to step up and take some of the load off of James Newson - we'd be much better off to have some balance. Who is going to do the long snapping? We have question marks and those need to be answered during fall camp.'

YOUR THOUGHTS ON Steven Jackson?

'Steven Jackson is a lot of fun to be around. It didn't take us long to figure out we need to turn around and hand the ball to him. He is a very talented and intelligent guy. He is a great representative of this program. I'm excited to coach him. We have to be balanced with him, so other teams don't load up to stop the run. We have to be able to move the ball consistently. There are a number of factors that will contribute to his success, but he certainly has the talent to be a major factor.'

YOU HAVE A LOT DEPTH AT TIGHT END AND SOME QUESTIONS AT WIDE RECEIVER, WILL WE SEE TWO TIGHT END SETS?

'We will use two tight ends. Our base formation going into spring was three wideouts, but because of that depth at tight end we started using two of them. We almost were alternating plays with tight ends and receivers. I would say right now, that we have two base sets - three wideouts and one tight end, and two wideouts and two tight ends.'

ANTICIPATING THE TEAM GETS OFF TO A GOOD START, HOW MUCH DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE UNIVERSITY GETTING BEHIND Steven Jackson IN TERMS OF A HEISMAN CAMPAIGN?

'I have spoke with Hal (Cowan) briefly about that. I think we are all on the same page with it. As the season develops and when we get hot will be the time to hit it. If we have a good start and steady improvement throughout the season as a team, he is going to be doing real well. I think it is better to let things develop and see how it goes. I think we have a pretty good lesson in that very thing with Carson Palmer last year.'

James Newson IS A HUGE PART OF THIS TEAM, DESCRIBE HIS IMPORTANCE?

'James Newson is a unique personality. I certainly don't worry about him. Overall, I really like this group - it is a spirited bunch of guys. They like to play. When we go on the field, you will see the competition. One of the big jobs today, is to hold the players back - we can't have any major open field collisions. James exemplifies the team spirit. He plays physically and he plays hard. When you look back at his time, it is a very good story. There was no other Pac-10 school recruiting him. He came from a disadvantaged background, he wasn't eligible the first year, and then he breaks his leg the second year. We never got a chance to coach him. You are talking about a guy, who really hasn't had a great background, persevere through things to become potentially the school's all-time leading receiver. James Newson is a centerpiece on this team. He makes all the plays and he plays with passion. He is fun to be around.'

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT Derek Anderson?

'Derek Anderson will be a major part of our success. The first thing everybody will be looking at from Derek is the natural improvement he will make from his first year as a starter to his second year. There is nothing better than playing for a quarterback, and he started the entire year. He has been through a lot of things. The one thing people forget is he had among the most productive years any Oregon State quarterback has ever had. He had some rough times in the Pac-10 last year, but so do a lot of quarterbacks. We are looking for consistency from him. He is a tremendous young man, a very hard worker, and determined to get better. We have to do a better job catching the ball for him; our receivers dropped a lot of balls last year. We have to protect him up front. Everybody asks questions about Derek's consistency, but there are things that have to happen for quarterbacks to be consistent.'

YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE RACE?

'This is going to be a real political answer, but one thing that has shown over the years is that anybody in this conference can rise to the top. But, on the other hand, you have to look at USC as being the favorite - I was really impressed with the Trojans at the end of last year. I know USC lost its quarterback, but that was good football team last year.'

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