Riley Meets The Press

Oct. 21, 2003

(On Washington State's defense) 'They have an outstanding group of defensive players. They've been in that system for a while, and I think a big, big factor is that they get the ball back from the other team. They've gained a lot of momentum in ballgames from turnovers. We've got to do an outstanding job of protecting the ball, getting a hat on a hat and staying with it in the running game, and then, obviously, protecting the quarterback. Turnovers are a big issue with this game, with this team.'

(What has been Oregon State's reaction to the loss against Washington?) 'Things were pretty quiet around here on Sunday, and I think everybody took that loss pretty hard. But I would suspect, also, that we have a pretty tough-minded group; I think they'll come back to work today and get ready for the next ballgame. We responded from a similar disappointing performance earlier in the year very well. I thought we came back and put a string of pretty good football together. We took a step backward, and now we have a chance to respond again.'

(On Washington State quarterback Matt Kegel) 'He's done a great job in a situation where it looked like everybody thought that was going to be a focal point about replacing (Jason) Gesser. Matt has done a very good job of coming in and running their offense and producing. I don't think they missed much in that regard. They're playing good, sound football in all phases of the game - offense, defense and kicking game.'

(Why is Pullman such a tough place to play?) 'Probably the same reason that, in the past few years, Oregon State has been tough - they have a good following, there's a great atmosphere at their ballgames and they have good teams. I think that's always a factor in the thing. And they're obviously comfortable at home. But basically, they have a good football team and they have a great atmosphere.'

(On Washington State split end/returner Sammy Moore) 'We're going to have to do a great job. We have responded in the past from returns where we shorted up and done a much better job; I'm looking for great improvement in that area. Obviously, you can't give up returns for touchdowns - in a close ballgame, they're killers. Again, that's one area of the ballgame I think we can be good in and have been outstanding at times, but we've got to do better than we did last week.'

(What in particular about Washington State's defense concerns you?) 'They're very quick. I think when you look at Oregon State's defense and Washington State's defense, you see pretty similar characteristics - fly to the football, lots of different kinds of pressure, sound coverage. They have good cover people in the back end; they have as good an overall defense, for sure, as we've seen. That's a major factor for us. We're going to have to be very sound and take care of the football, take our opportunities, and make sure we can get a hat on a hat. A lot of teams do not block everybody, so their quarterback is under duress, they're hitting backs in the backfield in the running game, so that's an area where we've really got to be sound.'

(In practice, how can you address reducing Oregon State's penalties?) 'There are certainly things in practice that we work on when we're talking about pass interference or offensive holding. Those are things that are a daily part of our lives in football, generally, so those are some areas. But there's also a part that's off-the-field stuff, or have nothing to do with the play, that is addressed in a different fashion than coaching on the field.'

(On teams being in a proper frame of mind for a game, such as Washington having its back against the wall last week) 'I think our team wanted to win in the worst way, I really do. The focus coming back after the weekend off was outstanding, the first practice of the week was really fast. As a matter of fact, I worried about that because we looked good so early, can we keep this up all week? So our intentions were good; obviously, our procedure wasn't very good. When we got to the ballgame, I think we lost some focus on what was really important in winning the football game. That game hung in the balance for a long time, into the third quarter, and we didn't respond very well. I think that was probably more the nature of that game. How we handled that whole buildup of wanting to win that game, it didn't culminate in any kind of a way that we wanted it to. So we've got to get back to the nuts and bolts of what we want to do, and then focus on the important part, which is playing the game.'

(On Oregon State quarterback Derek Anderson) 'There are going to be teams that give you pressure, and there going to be guys who win on a block from time to time and the quarterback is going to have to deal with that. We'll accept part of that; that happens in football. I think Derek made some outstanding throws, some big plays in the ballgame, and what we have to do is get down to again being more consistent. If we're throwing the ball 48 times in a ballgame, then we're probably not doing real well and that is where we got too far along, and then you're playing a one-dimensional game. We've got to help him with balance, we've got to help him with protection, and he's got to be very consistent. And that goes back to the process of going and practicing. I think he's made strides this year, but we did some backsliding in almost every area of our football team the other night, so he wasn't alone in that regard.'

(Is there something to be said for going on the road right now and being grouped together, a bit more isolated with fewer distractions prior to the game?) 'The main thing for us is starting the preparation for another game. We've been through the film, we've talked about that last game, we've been through the issues of that last game; now the best thing for our team is to go play. Maybe going on the road will be good, maybe going on the road will be a factor, but my sense is that it won't be. I think our practices will tell the tale.'

(Did Washington moving Terry Johnson from defensive tackle to end - or anything else Washington did - affect Oregon State's ability to run the ball?) 'Washington did a nice job in the ballgame. They were well-prepared and their players played well, they played hard and took it to us, for sure. Terry Johnson was a factor; he was a factor in the games I saw as a defensive tackle. Whether or not he played end or tackle, he played well and that's probably the best way to summarize how he played against us in that game.'

(Will Oregon State defensive end Dan Rothwell play this week?) 'I don't think Dan will play this week. Derek Bruns will be our deep snapper.' (How will that affect OSU's pass coverage?) 'I think it plays a part in coverage, for sure, but there won't be that big a difference in that - Dan's not an open-field tackler, either.' (Concerns about an untested snapper?) 'We have gained more and more confidence in Derek through the year. He's a very, very hard worker. He has improved dramatically; we've put him in a lot of situations in practice under pressure so he's done it and we've gotten to see him do it. We'd rather not have this change occur at this time, but I think we're well-prepared for it.'

(On Oregon State strong safety Lawrence Turner) 'He's day-to-day, but the sense that we have from our trainer is that he'll be okay.'

(On Oregon State wide receiver Cole Clasen) 'I was glad to see Cole get on the board, so to speak (with his first catches and touchdown of the season). It's been a long time coming, and I think he can continue to play a role for us, for sure. We need to get him in the ballgames like we have been, and he provides us with one more guy who can make plays.'

(Will Jayson Jean-Baptiste start at defensive end in place of Dan Rothwell?) 'That's what it looks like right now.'

(On Washington State outscoring its opponents 75-8 in the first quarter this season) 'That's an interesting stat; I didn't realize it was quite like that. I've watched quite a few of their games to this point, and of course all the games are cut up so you don't see the flow of the game. But I did see the Oregon game on TV, and they really got off to a great start in that game and it played a major, major role in the whole rest of the ballgame. We have to be really sharp in what we do, take care of the football and play good defense. Who knows how this game is going to start, but we can't let them get off to a fast start.'