Riley Meets The Press
Oct. 14, 2003
(On how Oregon State seems to have handled having a bye last week) 'We'll know how we handled it on Saturday night - that's probably the only way to really know. As far as practice, yesterday I was very impressed with the work, the time we spent, and just getting back into it. I didn't feel like we really spent a lot of time doing that. It seemed like business as usual, which was good, and we practiced hard.'
(Running back Steven Jackson gets a lot of credit for Oregon State, but how do you feel the offensive line has performed this season? Is there anyone you'd single out in that unit?) 'It's a great group; it's hard to single them out. We obviously have some outstanding players in that area, and I think they've gotten better. It's pretty evident to me - in the last few weeks in particular - that we've gotten more consistent and more physical and played better.'
(On Oregon State getting more players involved in its offense) 'We try to plan each week how to get guys the ball; that's part of our process of putting the game plan together and it's obviously done in the realm of what we do. We've actually improved in that area quite a bit in the past month. Our tight ends are playing big roles right now and catching quite a few balls, and our slot and our flanker are more involved - not as much as we'd like, but much more than they once were earlier this year.'
(Have you warned the Beavers against letting down against a Washington team that has suffered two straight losses?) 'It's always focused on the team you're playing. All I've said is, basically, don't fall into any traps here. This game coming up has nothing to do with the past; it's all about this one ball game. We know they have to have it and we know they are very capable, so don't fall into any trap about what's being said about Washington; that's not our concern. Our concern is what they do and how they do it, and us preparing for it.'
(On OSU's offense against Washington's defense) 'They're very active up front. It's probably the best defensive front, physically, that we've seen. And they have a number of different ways to pressure you, so it's going to be a major mental game for us. Then, besides knowing what to do, it's physically doing it, so we have to be able to handle all that if we want to be effective moving the football.'
(On OSU's defense against Washington's offense) 'They have an outstanding quarterback (Cody Pickett); he's had a great career at Washington and he's a tremendous competitor, so it starts right there. They also have as talented a wide receiving corps as we have seen, so our corners are going to have to play well and we're going to have to help them at times. And I've always liked their running back (Rich Alexis); he's a good player. Now you're talking about a multi-faceted game, and when they put it together they can be outstanding. They were picked to be one of the best teams not just in the conference, but the nation. So we just can't fall into any traps; this will be a tough football game and their backs are against the wall.'
(Are you surprised at how quickly things can change? It wasn't so long ago that people were questioning OSU after the loss at Fresno State) 'This has been a year of surprises. You can look at the scoreboard every Saturday night and there will be many different surprises from around the nation. It just shows you that you have to go play the game, you have to play your best, and if you're not focusing on that Saturday, then you're liable to have a bad Saturday night.'
(How does Steven Jackson keep producing despite defenses focusing on stopping him?) 'Well, he's good, start with that. He's an outstanding player. Then as far as our intentions, we make no bones about it - we try to get him the ball in the best circumstances that we can. That's a major part of our game, that's a foundation of our game. We try to do whatever we can to help him, and he's got the talent to make the most of it.'
(Does Oregon State's national ranking have an impact on the players?) 'What it really is, is an indication of how you're doing. If you don't continue to do well, they won't mean a thing because the real ranking is at the end of the year, and that's where you'd like to have a ranking. I'd rather be where we are than not, that's for sure. But if you lose the next game, it won't mean anything to you.'
(Oregon State has won 26 of its last 29 home games - is Reser Stadium a tough place for visiting teams to play?) 'I think the atmosphere here is great, and it is hard for opponents to play here, and that is a great thing. On Saturday night we'll have a great atmosphere, and they definitely contribute to helping the Beavers win.'
(Did Oregon State's win at California appear to be as good on film as it did in person?) 'There's always things, when you look at it, that you like and some things you don't like and that was the nature of that game. But overall, I really liked it. We were on a tremendous edge at the start of that game; we played fast and we came out of the blocks fast, and the guys were ready to go and really never stopped. We had some moments in that game where Cal tried to climb back in it, but we ended up responding and putting the clamps down again, so we played a pretty thorough football game. It all started with how we started the ballgame.'
(On Oregon State's injury situation) 'I think we're okay. (Safety) Lawrence Turner tweaked his knee last week and didn't practice yesterday but we anticipate him slowly moving back into practicing. (Wide receiver) James Newson actually practiced on the first practice day of the week for the first time in about three weeks, so that's encouraging.'
(Is there a difference between being the hunter and the hunted? You're the hunted this week) 'It's one of those things, again, that the most important thing is to focus on yourself getting ready. You have to look at the other team for who they have and what they do, but all those things that surround the game, you'd like to kind of put out. It doesn't have to be a part of your thought process. There are too many traps in all that stuff, whether you're not good enough or real good - if you start to think either one of those things too much, you're hurting yourself. So if you can avoid those traps and focus on playing good football, I think that's the key.'
(How much has Washington changed offensively with the change of head coaches?) 'They're a pretty multiple offensive football team, and they haven't changed too much. I think the foundation for a lot of the people - the staff, Gilby was a coordinator - I think they probably continued to try to be a balanced football team. An I-back or single-back running team, they'll do both. Then they spread the ball around, have bootleg passes, play-action passes ... pretty versatile, all-around offensive football team.'
(What did your bye weekend consist of?) 'Football. It was a good week for our team, we had some good work, some practices, then we utilized our time recruiting on the weekend. Not recruiting, but going to games and high schools; it's not a time you can talk to players but it's a time you can go visit the coaches and the schools and the games, so we did that. We had seven guys - that's as many as you can have - go out, and that's good. I went to five games.'
(On Oregon State's cornerbacks against Washington wide receiver Reggie Williams) 'I think their guy is really good. I saw him in the Holiday Bowl a couple years ago and was very impressed with him in person down there. Our guys have definitely improved and have gained confidence and have played very well over the last couple ballgames in particular, but in this league it will never be easy. Everybody's got a guy or guys who are good football players, good receivers - that's what the Pac-10 is, in one way, about: skill players. The challenge will always be there for them every week, and you've got to rise to the challenge. And then we also have to have ways to help our corners, so that it's not all about always playing one-one-one; once in a while we have to get a double coverage in there and change up, and make sure we get pressure. Pass defense is everybody's job - it's under coverage, it's rush, it's blitzing, it's two-deep, it's a whole bunch of things. But we do put a big burden on our corners, and it's important they're ready to go every week and playing at the top of their game, because that's just the way it is.'
(As the season goes along, will there be any re-evaluation of how to promote Steven Jackson for the Heisman Trophy?) 'You know, those are all if everything happens. What we have to do is take care of Saturday night. There's enough stuff there that we just have to take care of our thing. If we do, then obviously Steven is doing well, and then we'll see what happens. But I don't think there's anything we need to do or need to speculate, and I have a sense that's the truth.'
(How has Steven Jackson recovered from having wisdom teeth pulled during the bye week?) 'He seemed fine yesterday; he didn't have any problem. He had a couple days that he wasn't smiling like he does, but he's fine.'