Riley Meets The Press

Oct. 19, 2004

(On Washington State) 'I expect a very tough, physical football game. Washington State's defense is still out there creating havoc; I guess they've had more sacks than anybody in the league over the last three years and it appears that same frenzied style is still out there so we've got to deal with that. Then we're going to face a different quarterback, unfortunately for them they've lost their starter. But we're going to see a guy (Alex Brink) who I understand has pretty good mobility and we don't know much else about him. But I expect two teams again pressing hard for a win.'

(On defensive end Bill Swancutt coming through with a big game at Washington) 'With the option game, I think that's where everybody noticed it. There's a part of that game that basically leaves the defensive end unblocked and then they make a decision off of him; his decision was to tackle the ballcarrier out there in space and you can see his power. He made some tremendous hits on the back. Then in the passing game, he got isolated a little bit one-on-one, which he doesn't see a lot of. I think the combination of things - the style of game and the fact that he got to go one-on-one on a pass rush once in a while - that's where his style, his effort haven't varied, it was the game a little bit that set him out there front and center.'

(How do you expect Washington State to match up with Swancutt?) 'Washington State is very aware of protection and very aware of what they do in the passing game, very smart. I don't know exactly what we'll see protection-wise, but I know they're one of those teams that pay close attention to that.'

(What does one win like the one at Washington - against a team OSU hasn't beaten often in a place where OSU hasn't won often - do in terms of being a springboard for the rest of the season?) 'First of all, it was just a big, isolated moment of winning a game for us. For me and you and the program in general, winning in Husky Stadium is also a big deal. But for this team in particular, it was just good to win. And I think it was also good to win on the road, it was good to win in the Pac-10 - there were a lot of good things about it. It felt good. We needed to get back on track. My hope is that we feel better about ourselves and more confident as we go into this week of preparation.'

(How happy are you for placekicker Alexis Serna?) 'It's another one of those great stories in sports. The highlighted game at LSU, then we demoted him for a while, then he fought back and came in against New Mexico and had a big kick. For us, it's day-to-day out there, it's kind of business as usual - all those guys kick, and then we put them in team situations and they kick, then we kick off - so it's just been practice. But for a kicker in that kind of ballgame last week, it was a big day. I think the early kicks were big because we wanted to get out and get a lead in the ballgame. We had nice drives but did not finish them, but Alexis got us points. Then it was a major kick before the half to regain that lead and maybe momentum, and then at the end those kicks iced the game. You could say they were all big kicks; I could, and they all felt like it when we were kicking them. I'm very pleased for him. The challenge in sports is, you've got to go do it again and consistency is a major factor - not only for Alexis, but for our team.'

(Washington State has weapons in punter Kyle Basler and punt returner Michael Bumpus - is it crucial to get at least a standoff on special teams?) 'I would hope so. I think we've got another great challenge in our coverage teams. A game like this, special teams will play a major factor. They will rush the punter hard; of course we had one blocked (at Washington) which just whets a team's appetite - when they see that on tape, they get hungrier, so we'll have to do an outstanding job there. Then while you're protecting, your next order of business comes right away and that's coverage. Bumpus is a very good, talented young guy. Our work will be cut out for us on special teams, and it could sway the game, for sure, for either team. I'm looking for some returns from our team and think we're on the brink of something big.'

(On the health of tight ends Joe Newton and Dan Haines) 'Dan Haines - I don't know today how he's doing; I suspect he will progress to the position he will play. Whether he practices today, I'll find out later. Joe Newton - we expect limited duty, and more as the week goes on. I haven't gotten the final clearance for Jonas Newton to play, but everything I've heard leans that way.'

(On linebacker Trent Bray) 'Trent is a Northwest guy, grew up in a coach's family. First of all, he's a tremendous young man, just personally a great guy. He's a playmaker in football for three reasons. One is, he studies very, very hard, as much as anybody on our team. He watches a ton of film. He has an awareness that's probably built on that preparation so he sees things before most people do and gets to the football, because he's not overly fast but he makes up for it with preparation and awareness. Then the other thing is, he's a physical football player.'

(On Oregon State's defense sometimes playing well but not producing turnovers, then producing seven turnovers against Washington) 'In the last ballgame, I thought one of the main differences was that we played our style, we played very fast. We didn't play perfectly - we lost containment on the quarterback, we lost some receivers down the field once in a while - but we played extremely fast and our physical part of the game, we hit very hard. I'd like to think that has something to do with some of those turnovers. The first one, Trent Bray just made a great play on it; it was a bootleg and he undercut the crosser, who appeared to be open and the quarterback didn't see him and he made a nice play on it. But we had a lot of big hits that I think eventually take their toll, especially on that wide-open game of the option if you're hitting the dive man hard, then being ready to take the quarterback and disrupting the pitch, which happened a couple times. I like to think that had something to do with it.'

(On Oregon State's offensive line against Washington, especially on some big runs in the second half) 'We're not where we want to be in the running game, by any means. But if we can get that production and continue to improve - which we'll have to do - then we're on the right track to being what we want to be overall. I think the preparation for that game was great, I think our offensive linemen were keyed in pretty well. There were a lot of ugly plays, but there were some nice plays. The touchdown play was blocked perfectly. So maybe we're on the right track, maybe we're going to make some progress. Even though a lot of the runs weren't pretty, the game went a lot better; it was a lot easier to manage as a play-caller because we could run the ball and get a little bit, then run a screen ... we mixed some things in so we managed third down a little easier, then we had our typical big plays that were good. The mixture, the managing, the efficiency were all pretty good.'

(On Washington State wide receiver Jason Hill) 'They have those guys. They have talent; we're going to have to do a great job on pressure and in coverage, there's no doubt about it. It's got to be a mixture of a game, for sure, for us.'

(On Washington State quarterback Alex Brink in his action against Colorado) 'I personally haven't looked back that far - I've looked at the more recent games - but will do that as the week progresses so I'll reserve comment. Our assistant coaches would probably have a better picture of that.'

(What did you say to the Beavers at halftime at Washington when you felt somewhat good about the running game but it wasn't producing numbers) 'Some of it is sacks and some of it is a couple lost-yardage plays but there were a couple of decent runs. What we did was, we just honed in on about three plays that we wanted to repeat and run in the second half, that we felt good about going in and re-emphasized them and went back over them and the details of them at halftime and said `Let's go at it and try to get some of these going.' We did say at halftime, we've got to run the counter. We had one big hit on it, but the consistency's not there yet. We're not the running football team of who we want to be; maybe we won't become that this year but we've got to get something going like that ballgame where we can make something happen.'

(On free safety Mitch Meeuwsen becoming Oregon State's all-time career interception leader) 'It's a great record to have. Mitch is a playmaker and has made a ton of plays here, he's played a very good safety position for Oregon State for a long time. And there's been a lot of good safeties, dating back to the days when Bud Riley coached Don Whitney and Jim Lilly and Mark Waletich here in the 1960s - a lot of playmakers. But it's nice for Mitch to have that record. It's an indication of his playmaking ability at that spot.'

(On breakdowns against Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback - was that due to his athletic ability or mistakes by Oregon State's defense?) 'He's definitely an elusive guy. If you weren't playing in that game, it was kind of fun watching it because he's an athlete. And I thought he threw the ball well getting out of the pocket. He did some nice things; that touchdown pass was a tremendous throw to the tight end in the back of the end zone. However, from our viewpoint, we did not do a good job at times with quarterback containment - we absolutely did not. We made an inside move and he went outside one time just on a dropback pass and then we didn't handle the bootleg well. From our viewpoint, we've got to do better than that. From their viewpoint, that guy made plays.'

(Is winning four more games to become bowl eligible even talked about at this point?) 'We've got to deal with - I hate to use this cliché, you know it's coming - but we've really just got to play this game, get another win, and then maybe we can start talking about something like that later on. But we're still digging out of a hole; until we get out of it, there's no sense talking about it any more.'

(Has tailback Dwight Wright surprised you with his big plays?) 'Dwight has some quickness and speed. I think he's got that burst ability, when he sees a whole, to get through it. We've just got to give him more holes like the other day, and we'll have more good things happen.'

(On quarterback Derek Anderson) 'I thought Derek was in command of that ballgame and very poised, made some big throws, managed the game overall very well. I thought he had great preparation and overall played very well.'

(With some penalties still being costly ones for you, do you punish players who are penalized?) 'I don't have anything like that specifically. I just think overall we're making progress in those controllable-type penalties. I really believe that. We had a meltdown against Arizona State, then we had one that happened that I didn't see what happened on the weekend. Overall, I think we have our ways of making sure that doesn't become part of our program again.'

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