Beavers Go Through Final Full Practice

Dec. 26, 2004

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Oregon State went through its final full-scale practice at Desert Mountain High School on Sunday afternoon. OSU will have a walk-through session at Bank One Ballpark on Monday, then meet Notre Dame in the Insight Bowl on Tuesday night. After the Beavers' workout on Sunday, OSU head coach Mike Riley spoke with reporters.

(Looking ahead to the 2005 season, you lose a lot of playmakers from this year's team. Do you still feel pretty positive about next season?) 'Very. We have a lot of young guys. There will be some major holes to fill when you're losing a lot of playmakers here, offensively and defensively - your all-time leading passer (quarterback Derek Anderson), your all-time leading interceptor (safety Mitch Meeuwsen), your all-time leading sacker (defensive end Bill Swancutt).' (Will it be harder offensively because of losing Derek Anderson?) 'There's just a lot of questions, so we'll have to see. It will be breaking in a new person, whatever happens. Whether or not it's harder, a lot of that will depend on if we can run the ball better; then it won't be as hard for a new quarterback.'

(Will the quarterback job be wide-open going into 2005?) 'Absolutely. It'll be wide-open. We'll just let them play this spring; it will be kind of fun.'

(Will Jimtavis Walker be the heir apparent at tailback?) 'I would say he'll be a tremendous competitor there. I don't want to disrespect the opportunity for the other guys who have been working so hard. I tell you what, I still think Ryan Cole brings a lot to the table and I know Yvenson Bernard will step up that much more.'

(How was Christmas?) 'It was great. It's been a great trip. The yellow jackets here (the Fiesta/Insight Bowl Committee members) are awesome. The hospitality, the hotel, the people, the field - they put in new field for us here (at DMHS) just a month ago. It's awesome. We've been treated tremendously.'

(Oregon State's passing offense against Notre Dame's pass defense looks like a mismatch, but if they bring pressure, it changes things, doesn't it?) 'Yeah, it always will, so we've got to be able to handle all sorts of their pass defense, whether it's defensive pressure or defensive coverage. But that appears to be a big, big key to the ballgame. They've been such a good run defensive team and we've been such a bad running team, it appears that I don't know if we should even test it. But we will, we'll try that because it would be great to get that part of the game going - that would help us a ton, because it helps against pressure, too, if you can run a little bit. We'll have to be able to handle pressure, because they'll bring it.'

(What kind of game are you expecting, in terms of the number of points scored?) 'I don't know - I'm not very good at that and it doesn't really matter. This game is a little bit of a mystery to me on all of that. It's just going to be how sharp we are, that will be the key to me. If we're sharp, I think this will be a heck of a football game.'

(How was placekicker Alexis Serna able to come back so well after he missed three point-after kicks at Louisiana State in the season-opener?) 'It was all personal by him. We can talk about our team putting its arm around him, which I think they did. Even though we demoted him, we left an opportunity there for him and he took advantage of it. He obviously has a lot of inner strength and a lot of stuff to him. He came back and when he got his next chance - which was a big field goal in the ballgame (against New Mexico), it made us up by two scores in the fourth quarter, which was really big to me - I thought that was a major kick for him. Then after that, he missed one kick the rest of the year. He's not hitting the ball real well right now; he had a little infection in his leg and missed a couple days and he's coming back. It'll be interesting to see.'

(Is it possible to have a carry-over effect from last year's Las Vegas Bowl and how well Oregon State played in that game?) 'I hope so. You'd like to say you played your best game at the end of the year, and I think we have a year ago and we were on our way after the Oregon game to be able to say that then, and I hope we can say it again Tuesday night.'

(Is it always sort of a one-game season in a bowl game with the month off since your last game?) 'I don't know how that is. I've been around enough of these with coach (John) Robinson to try to watch it and remember closely, because I think John has one of the best bowl records of anybody in history. We had, one time, 19 practices before the Rose Bowl and we played lights-out in the game so I tried to duplicate those kind of practices and stuff like that, but I don't pretend that's exactly going to work.'

(Everything you needed to do, preparation-wise, is done?) 'Oh, yeah. This is Thursday of a regular game week today. We cut it down a bit, but it's a pretty typical Thursday practice today.'

(Anything special planned for the players tonight?) 'No. This is the first night we don't have anything with them.' (What is curfew?) '11 o'clock. Curfew started two nights ago. We gave them two nights with no curfew, then two nights with 12 o'clock, and now the last two nights will be 11 o'clock.'

(At defensive tackle, will it be that Alvin Smith starts with Curtis Coker in the rotation?) 'Yes, and Naymon Frank will be in there, too.' (George Gillett?) 'George and Josh will rotate as the flanker.'

(Are the players who are here all healthy?) 'Yes. (Offensive guard) Roy Schuening had a bout of the flu but he's back. He was able to make it as Santa Claus last night (at the team banquet) - that was the big thing he had to do yesterday.'

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