Riley Meets The Press

Oct. 28, 2003

(Is it more difficult coming into the next week after losing a game you feel you should have won?) 'That will play itself out during the week, but I think our guys will respond well. There's a lot of pride in this group, so I suspect it will motivate us to come out and play better.'

(On OSU linebacker Jonathan Pollard) 'He has made a lot of plays. He's playing really fast, actively ... our defense played real well, and our linebackers are a focal point, for sure, because of their speed and playmaking ability. I think all of our guys - Richard (Seigler), of course, and Jonathan and Trent Bray and Seth Lacey are all really good linebackers, fast guys, and make a lot of big tackles. They're very instrumental in our defense being as good as they are. Jonathan has tremendous quickness now and he's playing physically and fast. We always talk about practicing fast and playing fast, and he epitomizes that. He's a powerful guy; he's got nice size for a linebacker and really good speed. And great drive about him - he's not a real loud, boisterous guy but he's got a drive that's special. He's a good guy.'

(Steven Jackson hasn't reached 100 yards in the last two games. What's too big a load for a running back?) 'It has nothing to do with him. It has nothing to with either workload or where he is or how he's playing. He had 91 of the hardest yards ever (against Washington State), but we needed to run the ball the other night. And the game actually went as I told them it would - it was going to be hard, hard, hard to run early. This was not your everyday defense against the run that we were playing. They're very much like our defense, and I think Washington State had about five yards rushing in the game. This is the kind of deal we were in in this ballgame, so we did get stronger in the run as the game went on. It was unfortunate that we made a couple mistakes, otherwise I thought we could have had a drive going that almost featured the run there at times in the fourth quarter. But he is as strong and as talented and ready to go as ever. It has nothing to do with what he's doing. We played two pretty good teams the last two weeks. We didn't play well against Washington; against Washington State, that's pretty much what we expected.'

(On Arizona) 'I think they probably tried to keep continuity in their systems. They have a good coaching staff down there. They played, just two weeks ago, UCLA a heck of a ballgame. It's a dangerous team in that regard. I don't think you can assume anything when you're playing in the Pac-10; if you do that, you're crazy. What we have to do is focus on us, our preparation, our mental edge and exactly where we are. Then we've got to get ready to play a hard game. This team will hit you, they'll play hard, so it's going to be a football game. We've just got to get ready to go. And they change quarterbacks a little bit. This guy they've got is pretty talented, this young guy (freshman Kris Heavner). And, as everybody does in the Pac-10, they've got good players so we've got to be ready to go.'

(On Arizona rushing for over 200 yards in each of their last two games) 'They've got good runners; I think those guys are good, and they're doing a nice job with their scheme and they're committed to their game in that regard. So they're doing a good job with their intentions, and that would be a challenge in this ballgame - to try to make it more of a one-dimensional game like we did at Washington State, because our defense played pretty well against the run there. So we can't falter in that. I think run, play-action pass will be big in how we do against Arizona.'

(On OSU placekicker Kirk Yliniemi) 'He has all the stuff for a kicker. It's one thing about having a good leg, and physically the attributes he has ... he has nice range, good direction, the ball gets up nicely. He gets the ball up off the tee, which most all the kicks that are blocked nowadays aren't off the edge, they're up the middle with guys jumping but he gets the ball up nicely. On the other side of it, what a kicker has to have is a lot of guts. This guy has poise, composure. We've got like our fifth deep snapper in the game snapping for field goals the other day; I mean we've had a run there starting from when Noah Happe left the team that we've been through a bunch of guys, which is hard to do. But he didn't waiver; the snaps weren't great, but (holder) Carl Tobey did a great job of just getting the ball down and he double-clutched a 51-yarder ... I can't tell you how great a kick that is. I thought because of the timing, because of the new snapper, all that, that we were going to get one blocked but he withstood it and made all the kicks. It was a great game by him.'

(Will Dan Rothwell be healthy enough to be your long snapper this week?) 'WE don't know yet. We've talked about it every day since the game, which is Sunday and Monday. We'll talk about it again in our staff meeting right after this. He has made progress. We'll start with whether or not he can do short snaps for the field goals, then we'll see if he progresses enough, if he can do that, to do punts.' (Could he play as a snap specialist and not play defense?) 'There's a definite possibility of that.'

(On OSU defensive end Bill Swancutt) 'Bill is a warrior; he played great in the game. He was banged up a little bit, and we anticipate him playing and getting past this week of practice and doing okay. He'll be sore; he had a hyperextension of the elbow, he has a little bit of a strained knee. He's really a good player and a tough-minded guy, so I think he'll be playing this week.'

(On having your next three games within the state, including the next two at home) 'I think it's great. We've got a great atmosphere here, and I'm excited about our team getting to stay in place here this weekend. I think that's a bonus for us right now.'

(Other than the obvious - a win - what are you looking for this weekend?) 'I'm looking for great spirit and emotion. And then the other thing that's important is the detail of what we do. If we focus real hard in practice and practice the detail of our jobs and do it with some emotion, we'll be exactly fine for the game. Because we'll have a great opportunity to win if we approach Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in the right way.'

(On OSU safety Mitch Meeuwsen) 'You said it right about field sense. We always talk about football savvy, and some guys have got it. It's hard to describe what that is, but you just know it - they have a feel for a game if they're playing basketball, playing soccer, playing ping-pong ... they've got a feel, and they usually win at all the stuff they do like that. Mitch is one of those guys; he's an athlete and he's got a sense of sports and timing and anticipation that's real important to playing the game. We have a pretty boisterous defensive group, and he's pretty quiet with that group but there's a sense of stability there with Mitch that's important to our team. And because he does have a great sense of anticipation and a great responsibility to assignment, he makes plays. He's around the ball. In fact, that kind of describes him in a nutshell.'

(Other than the celebration penalties and a personal foul penalties that some found questionable, do you think OSU did a better job avoiding penalties last week?) 'A tremendous job by our team as far as composure and focus considering that game. I give both teams credit - it was a strange game of momentum changes throughout. It was very interesting that way. I thought both teams stayed with it regardless of adversity. We did not lose our composure ... we are dealing with our penalties; our kids responded tremendously in how they played that game and I think we're making progress in that way despite the numbers. If you saw that, you wouldn't think so, but we are, definitely.'

(The roughing the passer call on Seth Lacey that negated what would have been Mitch Meeuwsen's fourth interception - how did it appear on film?) 'A lot of roughing the passers are real close. What they need in college football is a better definition of what that is - they have to define it. If you looked at the whole game, there might have been 10 hits like that in the whole game. And this guy was unblocked off the edge of the defense; it wasn't like he came off a block late and reignited and started again and went after the quarterback. He was unblocked going full speed. We're not going to dwell on that kind of thing. It's a shame, because that took the game out of the kids' hands. We made a great play on that play, and I'm not sure it was a penalty.'

(When do you worry about wearing a player down?) 'I think we are very aware of that, and we're not worried about that in Steven (Jackson)'s regard. We have a predetermined plan for playing Dwight (Wright), where you will see him going into the game. If Steven is tired, he'll go in, but we'll also put him in regardless to get him some time and we feel great about that. You have to watch your whole team in that regard when you get to this stage in the second half of the season. I think that's important. But we aren't overusing Steven or wearing him down any more than any other football player is right now.'

(On OSU's defense) 'We have a good defense, and we've moved steadily up in statistical rankings, whatever that means to you. I think we're second in the league in both offensive and defensive stats right now. We've got to get more consistent offensively; then we've got to finish the game better. We gave up some things at the end of the game that we hadn't given up all day. They got a touchdown pass on a blown coverage, but overall our coaches did a great job with a game plan for that ballgame, our kids executed and played hard and made plays, they made physically. It's an outstanding group with great leadership on it. When they stick to just playing football, they're really, really good.'

(On Arizona's offense) 'They like to run the ball. They run it out of a two-back deal most of the time; that and the play-action passing are things we'll have to deal with. That, and then getting out on third down. That's another big thing special about them. But we have to be good against the run and the play-action pass this week.'

(On OSU quarterback Derek Anderson) 'I think he's doing okay. We're all disappointed in the ballgame and Derek's just like everybody in that regard. We've made progress, and Derek has made progress, but sometimes it's like two steps forward and a-step-and-a-half back. One of the faults in that ballgame was that we were inconsistent in the passing game. We knew running would be really difficult; we knew that, and we were going to stick with it and try to get our yardage and get stronger as the game went on. Like I said, I think that was coming true. However, we have to be more consistent. And it wasn't just Derek - we missed a couple of blitz pickups that caused us problems, and then made a couple other mistakes. And we dropped a couple balls. Mike Hass' catch was a fantastic catch for a touchdown, then he had another shot at one he normally catches. James Newson dropped one; we ran a slant-and-go for a touchdown and he dropped it. Then we had the close call at the back of the end zone. We had our chances in the passing game to have a bigger day than we did, and we let it go. Derek has to be more consistent, but we also have to make those plays. People have to step up and make plays. It all fits together - protection and catching the ball and throwing it consistently.'

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