Riley Meets The Press

Sept. 21, 2004

(On Arizona State quarterback Andrew Walter) 'Andrew Walter is a very productive, big-armed quarterback who, right now, is playing with a lot of confidence. He looks good. They're being very consistent and guys are making plays for him. It's all a bad combination for us.'

(On Oregon State linebacker Keith Ellison) 'Keith Ellison is a junior college transfer from El Camino Junior College. He is kind of a converted safety; he was a safety, he played like that down there. He's a very versatile player, a guy who fits our mold for an outside linebacker because we don't play a lot of nickel defenses, so we ask our outside linebackers to do a lot. Keith fits the bill. His outstanding qualities are intelligence, quickness, he plays the game with a lot of savvy and really prepares. He's a quality guy who's playing very well for us.'

(On Oregon State not having won at Arizona State since 1969) 'That's all history. We've been through this kind of stuff before with different streaks. Frankly, it's not a part of these kids' lives and it's not a part of this coaching staff's life. I'm the biggest link to that; I'm probably the only guy here who was around in 1969. But I don't think it's a factor.'

(On Arizona State this season compared to last season) 'I think they're probably playing with more confidence on offense and much more consistency. I think defensively, they've taken it to a whole other level - they're playing great defense. Their special teams are sound. I think their whole football team is playing very well.'

(On Oregon State's secondary) 'I think defensively we really bounced back this last week and had a very, very good overall defensive football game. I think our guys are good players and I think they'll be tested. Arizona State is going to complete some balls and do some stuff; we just have to keep it to a minimum, keep down the yards after the catch, and try to do everything we can to throw the rhythm of their passing game off. Walter throws very well on time, he gets the ball out of his hands, he's got great release and a great arm. For everybody's pass defense, pressure is almost the number one thing - whether you're blitzing or rushing four guys, you have to be able to disrupt timing. That is going to be a big key for us, defensively, and all that. Pressure is a defensive back's best friend, so we have to be able to get some pressure on the quarterback.'

(On Arizona State wide receiver Derek Hagan, which Beaver covers him, and how OSU might win that matchup) 'I'll go back to the way we'll win that is if we don't give him a lot of time to get open, and don't give the quarterback a lot of time to find him. Again, timing is the key issue here. If those guys have the time to maneuver and get open, they're good and they're making plays and he's making plays. The matchups will change according to where he is, so that's not as big a factor as doing a good job in the coverage and also getting pressure on the quarterback and disrupting their routes.'

(On Oregon State tailback Dwight Wright, and how his 100-yard rushing game against New Mexico may help the Beavers establish offensive balance going into Pac-10 play) 'I think it was huge for us to kind of establish our true identity of what we want to be. I don't think we obviously found that in the first two games, but I felt the capability was there. I was a little worried because New Mexico historically is hard to run against, but we found our yards and did some very good things running the football. We've known that Dwight and Ryan Cole are both very capable runners, it's a matter of establishing a ground game and making it work and staying with it, which we were able to do which was very important to us. We want to continue it.'

(On whether Oregon State cornerback Brandon Browner is playing at the same level he was a year ago, or are teams staying away from him) 'It's kind of a natural tendency after a year like that for teams either to stay away or to not quite find your total niche in playing there. My biggest fear for Brandon was that he would start to feel the pressure of having to make more plays and do stuff like he did last year. For cornerbacks, it's a funny business. You can go long stretches of time without a ball coming; what you have to do is be ready when the ball does come. So there's a lot of patience but intensity, the combination of the two - you have to remain intense and focused, and you can't be surprised. I think with his notoriety, people would stay away from him but they're not, totally. There's going to be a time when they're going to go there and you've got to be ready for it, but you may not get as many opportunities as you used to get to make the number of interceptions that you had or whatever that might be. What you're saying, I've been thinking about since the end of last year for him. I think guys can get preoccupied with that, the fact that I'm not getting my interceptions, I'm not getting my hands on as many balls. Well, there's reasons for that, but the point is to remain, above all else, sound and not try to make something happen when it's not there. And if they can complete a ball, don't lose your head over it, just keep playing. I think Brandon is doing a pretty good job with all that as far as just playing, but I've worried about that exact thing for a long time because I've seen it happen before.'

(On whether the start of Pacific-10 play will help Oregon State's focus) 'I think our focus has been good, actually. I know it didn't look like that a couple weeks ago (at Boise State), but I like how we worked and I think physically we've reached kind of a nice plateau that's important. Now it's a matter of our day-to-day work and making sure we maintain our conditioning and maintain our sharpness through practice and the details of practice - that's what it's all about right now. But I think where we are is good; we'd like to have a better record but we don't, but we have played some good football and we've come off a win and we're getting ready for a major road trip. We're playing our third top-25 team out of four games.'

(On Oregon State wide receiver Marcel Love emerging as an option alongside Mike Hass) 'I was pleased. We talked about this last week, that we needed our slotback to make some plays and just be more well-rounded, and we were. That might be a good indication of how we'd like to be. If we get one guy who catches balls and we win, it doesn't matter. A lot of it is dictated by what coverages we're seeing, but it was because of what we saw last week and what we knew we were going to see that I thought Marcel Love might get some more balls, and that definitely did help us out.'

(On Oregon State quarterback Derek Anderson going from four interceptions at Boise State to no interceptions against New Mexico) 'We played a much more well-rounded game. When you're running the ball and play-action passing, it allows us to get a few easier balls when you're running the football because they can't pay attention to one phase of the game. And we got into way too much of a one-dimensional game at Boise State and you're asking for trouble when that happens. We've kind of re-hashed already how those interceptions went at Boise State. Things go a lot better in a ballgame when you can run effectively, run some play-action passes. We played a pretty good football game the other day; we did not block as well as I thought we would or hoped we would. We usually had everybody accounted for on the blitz but we were on an edge where we didn't really block them and that was disruptive, like I didn't think our third-down conversion rate was great in the game. But I thought overall he played a good game, made good decisions, made some clutch throws late in the game when we needed to get down there and kick that field goal and get it up to at least a two-score game.'

(On Oregon State's mood) 'I was pleased with our excitement about the win, and I think our guys felt very, very good about that. It's kind of a reward for a good week of practice and a good football game, and that always feels good to anybody that accomplishes something, whatever it might be - when you're done cutting the lawn, sometimes you feel good about it. But I think it's really important for us because it's hard to drag out of a hole. There are a lot of personal individual goals involved in football, but there's one thing everybody's after and a win helps a lot of things.'

(Will the experience with the heat at Louisiana State help Oregon State this week at Arizona State? And have you considered practicing in the evening to get used to playing at 7 o'clock?) 'I have thought about practicing late. We have an unusual situation right now; we only have half a bank of lights out here because of the construction (to expand Reser Stadium). We did practice at night in fall camp but it isn't great - lots of shadows and all that. But I have thought about it, and maybe picking one night to do this both for the lights and the time of day. The heat thing - I think our weather lately has hurt us on that. We've been practicing outside but I'm hoping it's relatively cool at 7 o'clock down there, but I don't even know what the temperatures have been. I know it's been very, very hot during the day.'

(Does Arizona State use it's H-back in a way similar to Oregon State? And whose responsibility is that on OSU's defense?) 'They do use him in a lot of ways like we do. He'll catch a lot of bootleg-type patterns and a lot of intermediate routes. Most of the time that responsibility would be a linebacker's; however, we'll have a safety ... a linebacker might be blitzing and a safety would have to take that part of the coverage, so it's either going to be a linebacker or a safety most of the time.'

(On Arizona State's switch to a 4-3 defensive front and 'Devil-backer' Jamar Williams) 'That guy is like a swing guy - they play with two interior linebackers and then he'll swing ... if we lined up in our normal formation with three wide receivers then he'd swing to the slot, he'd be over Marcel Love. Then he'll blitz from there or he'll be in some sort of coverage, whether it's man-to-man or zone from that spot. That guy is partly like a nickel back and partly like a linebacker, I suppose, so we have to account for him for pressure and we have to account for him in coverage. He gets an opportunity in that defense to make a lot of different kinds of plays, that's how you'd basically describe it. But he basically will swing to our slot and become part of that coverage scheme or blitz scheme, whatever they might do.'

(On how the Pacific-10 has shaped up early in the season) 'It appears that it's probably as unpredictable as ever, and some of the teams who may not have been as good last year like UCLA and Stanford may be pretty darn good football teams this year, so there are going to be more and more people who enter into it. I think Arizona is going to be an improved football team. So it's going to be more unpredictable as we go.'

(On Oregon State's use of running back Olaniyi Sobomehin and whether he could be used as a fullback in some situations) 'He's a neat guy; he's a walkon that came here and went through all the scout team stuff and did all that and has slowly worked his way into a deal where we feel good about putting him in. He will block you; when he's gotten into scrimmages he's actually run the ball pretty effectively. He can catch the ball in the flat, which we'll have our fullback do once in a while like Dan Haines does when he's playing that fullback-type role. We have talked about expanding his role, giving him more opportunity, and it's due to his production and hard work. He's a smart guy and he's tough, so it's a good story. It's another guy taking advantage of an opportunity to improve.'

(On Oregon State's placekicking job this week) 'No update on the kicking at this point. We'll let that thing ride out for a couple days and then make a decision on it. The punter - we're really pleased with Sam (Paulescu); I think he's got all the stuff we thought he had and hoped he had. He's poised. I don't know what his number one attribute is, but I might say so far it's his consistency. If you go out and watch him practice, he rarely hits a bad ball. I've watched a lot of punters over the years and sometimes it's hard to get any return practice - balls are all over the place. But if you want your punt returners to get some work in 10 minutes, Sam can probably have gotten them a number of catchable balls. I know that sounds like a little thing, but he's consistent hitting the ball, he can directionally punt, he can put it up in the air. The biggest thing he has to work on is being able to really go for height and not necessarily all the time get all the distance ... he had one the other day that he was very disappointed in that just went into the end zone when we should have had a great opportunity to down the ball inside the 10. But matching the hang time and distance is a big deal; we're much more interested in direction and hang time than we are in a 60-yard punt. And he's capable of 55-yard punts, but we're looking more for direction and height. He's capable of doing that and does a pretty darn good job.'

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