Riley Meets the Press: Sept. 22

Sept. 22, 2009

Oregon State head football coach Mike Riley and several players met with members of the media on Tuesday morning in the Valley Football Center. Coach Riley answered questions from the assembled media contingent for approximately 25 minutes. Media represented Tuesday included: Paul Buker, Mike Tokito and Molly Blue of The Oregonian, Bob Clark of the Register-Guard, Cliff Kirkpatrick and Kevin Hampton of the Gazette-Times, Ron Callan from KPAM 860, Mike Parker and Jon Warren from 1240 KEJO, Casey Grogan of the Official Sports Report, as well as KATU, KMTR, KVAL and KEZI.

Head Coach Mike Riley

On facing the Arizona Wildcats this Saturday ...

'I'm looking forward to getting to practice this week, Coach Mike Stoops has a very solid program. He also has a strong defense system in place which will help them in this week's game. As a team, they have grown into their identity to come out and play physical and active which plays a major part with being near the top in the conference. It will be a big challenge for us offensively to take major steps forward to find our balance after last week's game. We, as a team, have things from last week's game that we need to fix, and then defensively we will have to contend with one of the leading rushers of the league. Another thing we will need to be ready for is their quarterback, who is very athletic and has a strong arm. I know that they have come up with a few running plays for him. In order to win this week's game, we will need to take a major step forward.'

On starting the Pac-10 season ...

'There is always added interest with the Pac-10 games, but there are ramifications for winning your conference which is always a goal for everybody. For me, each game means the Super Bowl and we, as a team, are ready for this week. To me in college football there are no preseason games because they all play a part in what your season looks like. If we don't go out and play our best each week, then you're missing the boat.'

On the importance of winning home games ...

'This will be the recipe of successful season. We always want to take advantage of your home opportunities and win at home. If we want to be a good team we have to find those wins on the road, but it all starts back with winning your home games.

On the challenges on the offensive and defensive lines ...

'I believe offensively it will be a very active, physical, and aggressive front. The high level of energy and quickness with their front will also be a strength for their team. Defensively, it should be strength against strength as far as their running game. When it comes to that, you want to get in the best passing situations as you can, so that will be another big factor in this game.'

On impressing on the players how long the season is ...

'It's one of the things we spend the most time on when we start off the year - that this is not a sprint. It's more of a marathon. It's not going to happen really fast, that there will be factors such as physical and emotional highs and lows. Physically, we might get beat down or injured, so we then have to recover from that. As a team, we need to have stability and evenness with having a passion of playing the game. Those are the most important areas to deal with and continuing with progress.

Quarterback Sean Canfield

On the constant pressure against Cincinnati ...

'The sacks are not one person's fault. There were a lot of times where I should have gotten rid of the ball faster. So really, it was frustrating looking at the film and seeing the plays we left out there. We could have had much more production, and seeing that was the most frustrating part for me.'

On what to expect against Arizona ...

'They definitely are one of the biggest teams in the Pac-10, having a lot of physical guys who make a lot of contact with their zone will make it interesting. It will be a good defense to take on.'

On defenses keying on the Rodgers brothers ...

'Jordan (Bishop) did step it up during the game, which was really good. James (Rodgers) and Quizz (Jacquizz Rodgers) account for a lot of what we do but by no means are they our whole defense. If I see other guys open, I will throw to them just to show that there are other guys out there who can make the run.'

Center Alex Linnenkohl

On being fast and aggressive upfront ...

'This is a big goal for us. We will get a lot more push and double teams up front. Our goal is to get lower and come under their pads. We are prepared that they will perform a lot of stunts but we are ready for their 4-3 screen also.'

On taking sacks personally as an offensive line ...

'It's the worst thing that could happen when you're blocking someone and when you don't see the ball come out, then you hear the whistle. My first instinct is to look back and want to make sure that he is not hurt. But yes, the O-Line does take it very personal.'

On focusing on Arizona ...

'It's important to me to just focus on the next upcoming game. Like James Rodgers said, `We either move forward or move backwards.' But we need a loss to bring out the best of our team. We always want to win at home. It's a great advantage to play here. We do need to win these games and also on the road.'

Defensive Tackle Stephen Paea

On the importance of sacks and pressuring the quarterback ...

'We have a young group. We don't have Slade Norris or Victor Butler like last year. I think we did better this game than the last two games. Obviously, playing the No. 17 team in the country and their No. 1 offense passing-wise, we did a good job pressuring the quarterback. We just need to be there a little bit earlier and we're working on that day in and day out at practice.'

On Arizona's running game ...

'I watched film already and they showed the same thing our offense does. They're on the ball more and they do a lot of stretch zone, which is perfect for our defense. I think our defensive line needs to work on the grinding more instead of pass rushing a spread offense like we've been doing the last three games. I think Arizona's going to be a tough game but it's going to be good for us. We have to help out our corners too. With us being 109th in the nation (for pass defense) it's not just because of our corners. I put the blame on our defensive line. We have get to the quarterback more to help out our corners and same for them. They have to help to get the quarterback to hold the ball more.'

On the safety ...

'Obviously it was on the second down but I thought they were going to run the ball on the first down. We did the same play call on the second down because I think Coach Banker thought they were going to run on the first down too and they knew it was a stretch play to my side and Matt LaGrone was on the tight end and I was on the guard. We got double teamed and we pushed both of them inside and the running back had nowhere to go. He was boxed in there and I saw Keaton Kristick, who flew up in the air and landed on top of him. He had nowhere to go and it was a negative three-yard loss. We knew they were going to run the ball and we did our best to execute up front. '

Cornerback James Dockery

On the experience of going against Mardy Gilyard ...

'He's a really great receiver. I have a lot of respect for everything he's done in his career so far. But like I always say when people ask me about it, I respect our guys on our offense tremendously. Getting tips from James (Rodgers) and Darrell (Catchings) and Damola (Adeniji), that's really prepared me for the receivers I've gone against so far.'

On his opinion on the secondary as a whole ...

'It's about knowing what the offense is trying to do. It's about recognizing sets and understanding what they're trying to do and using the scheme that Coach Banker runs. If we have a better grasp of that during the week then come Saturday we should have a better understanding of how teams are trying to tackle us.

Flanker James Rodgers

On is attitude coming off a loss ...

'I'm just looking forward, that's all. We took an early loss so that can either make us or break us. We just have to be more focused to get ready for this game against Arizona.'

On the importance of home games ...

'We always want to win at home because the hardest thing is going on the road and winning in other teams' territories. So winning at home is a must.'

On the need for another receiver to take on a prominent role in the passing offense ...

'I think they're doing very well. I've seen some of the guys out there making some plays. Aaron Nichols stepped up and made a big fourth-down catch. Those guys are coming along really well. It's not all about us (the Rodgers brothers) it's about everyone on the team contributing. '

On bouncing back ...

'We put the game against Cincinnati behind us. It's a new week now. We are just going to take it one game at a time and this week's starting with Arizona.'

On the coverage expected from Arizona ...

'Last year I ran fly sweep a lot so I look forward to them trying to stop that.'

Linebacker Keaton Kristick

On where the defense is mentally after getting only one sack in the last game ...

'We're upset about it as far as the sacks. But we've been putting pressure on the quarterback. Tony Pike did a good job getting away from us but we're going to see offenses that can launch the ball and different types of offenses in the next few weeks. I think we're going to start picking it up. The pressure has been there, it's just a matter of time before we start getting sacks.'

On whether it would be preferable to have the non-running quarterback starting for Arizona ...

'They're going to open up a little bit so it's going to come down to whether they are going to run, hand off the ball or the quarterback's just going to pass it. So it'll help us out a little in that but, I'm sure they'll switch both quarterbacks. They just have to get a feel for the situation first. '

On dealing with the different types of quarterbacks ...

'We've played quite a few different types of quarterbacks so far. We played the running quarterback at UNLV. We played Tony Pike, last week, a taller quarterback who just launched the ball. We're prepared. We like this type of offense a lot more, we see it a lot more often and we're excited to start Pac-10 play.'

On similarities between Jacquizz Rodgers and Arizona's Nic Grigsby ...

'They're similar. He's an athletic back and he's gained a lot of yards this first couple of games. It's good to start getting to the Pac-10, you've played these guys the past couple of years and you know how they play which will be exciting and I'm looking forward to it.'

On where the biggest area of improvement needs to be ...

'Most likely the pressure. We've been doing a lot trying to defend the pass. Give pressure to the quarterback; that really helps the defensive backs. There were a couple of times when the defensive backs were in coverage for probably about five seconds and the quarterback had all the time in the world and the receivers would go off their routes and have that chemistry with the quarterback and find the ball. It would really help to get some pressure and we have a defensive line that can deal with that, that's for sure'

On the subject of blitzing against Pike and how Cincinnati picked it up ...

'They had these quick passes and they could sense the man coverage. We have to do a better job of disguising to help out the defensive line. They're really working hard. It's just that they're getting the ball out quick and it's what we could do to make sure that doesn't happen. You could really tell he was an experienced quarterback, one of the better quarterbacks we've seen and we just have to take it up a notch. There are going to be some good quarterbacks in Pac-10 play and we have to make sure something like that doesn't happen again. Its only one game but at the same time it's a big game that could have really helped us out. '

On his interception ...

'I don't think he was too prepared. [The receiver] gave me a move off the ball and he put on this juke move that probably lasted about 15 seconds. It was more of a guessing game I was connecting eyes with the quarterback and he threw the ball and I just tried to jump high and I grabbed it. Now after I caught the ball a lot of stuff came to my mind, I was thinking maybe, you know, jump over a guy or spin move or something like that, but it didn't all happen that way. I ended up getting hit but stuff happens.'

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