Riley Meets The Press
Sept. 14, 2004
(With a 0-2 start, how important is this game for Oregon State?) 'We've had a rough couple of weeks in a lot of ways, and those play a part in how you feel about yourself. So I think getting back to practice today, getting back to preparation for another game, focusing on the details, the concrete issues of getting better, is really, really important. I think guys need something real to grasp and the practice now. And applying it to New Mexico, this is a big challenge in a lot of ways, also, because this team played very well against the (Washington State) Cougars and had a great chance to win that game - I think they were leading 17-7 in the fourth quarter and got beat in a close game - and had a great win over Texas Tech, so they've got some stuff going on that's pretty good. We're going to have to play a good football game and play with confidence and play with extreme passion. It's going to be that kind of game.'
(Facing another mobile quarterback in New Mexico's Kole McKamey this week, did you learn anything against Boise State that will help defend that?) 'That's a great point. This guy, we played against him last year and watched him, and he's done a nice job in the first couple weeks. He is mobile; they run some option with him, they run some great play-action stuff and throw the ball down the field - they had some big hits against Texas Tech, I was impressed with that. He's a competitor, he's athletic, and like I said, he can throw the ball down the field. They made some plays for him and went up and got the ball, and they run the ball well. I like their offense, I like what they're doing in it. There's no question that the Boise State quarterback ran around on us, threw us off, and that's what happens when a quarterback starts scrambling - everybody tries to make up for it, and what we have to do is play very detailed football, especially playing against a little bit of option you have to be very disciplined as you try to defend that.
(On Oregon State wide receiver Mike Hass) 'I told somebody today I was kind of done being shocked or surprised by Mike. He emerged last year in fall camp and earned a scholarship during camp, then was very, very good during the season. You've just got to like what he's all about. He plays the game faster than you would probably clock him in the 40, and he plays strong. He sheds tackles. He plays real hard and he's very tough. He'll go get the football and he's got good hands. He's just a good receiver. We've got to complement him. Offensively, we've got a big job to do with the balance of our offense run and pass, and to balance our receiving corps. (Tight end) Joe Newton can do that for sure, and our backs are catching the ball a little bit and doing a nice job. We've got to get our slot and our flanker and our H-back involved and we'll be better off for it when we do.'
(On balancing OSU's offense between the run and the pass after being pass-heavy in play selection against Louisiana State and Boise State) 'We don't want to be that kind of team; I hate those kind of stats at the end of a game. I think against Louisiana State we knew it was going to be tough sledding running the ball but we actually did okay, as I look back on that. Then against Boise State we did it too fast getting a one-dimensional ballgame. We are going to be much better off finding balance and doing it. Now, I say that, and New Mexico is one of the better run defenses in the country. We see every front, every blitz that man and (New Mexico head coach) Rocky Long has invented. It's a hard defense to play against; if they get you going, it gets worse. We're going to have to be very sound. We found a way to run the football last year in the bowl game and that was the key to that game, but that's easier said than done. We're going to have to be right on top of our game. Identification in their defense is a big deal - knowing where people are, who people are, and blocking accordingly. It's a big challenge that way, but it's really important that we run the football.'
(On OSU quarterback Derek Anderson this season, and any concerns about his four interceptions at Boise State) 'We hate the interceptions. That's sometimes what will happen to you in a ballgame like that when you have to throw too much; you'd rather not get into that deal. I think Derek has played some terrific football and made some great throws and hung in there real well, but we obviously want to cut down that part of it, for sure. It's never a cop-out, and I don't it to be, but he did have some balls that were tipped right off our own players, very catchable balls that were intercepted. That's part of having to throw too much, though - those things are probably going to happen. We'd like to throw 40 or 35 a game, no more than that.'
(On punter Sam Paulescu and OSU's special teams) 'Sam has been terrific. He's a good punter ... it's one thing to watch a guy practice punting and see him do a good job, but he's got the kind of poise that's necessary to be a real good punter. He's handled some tough situations and done a nice job. We whiffed a guy last week, had him right in his face, and Sam got the ball off, so he's done a good job. I thought we played pretty well in our first ballgame with our coverage teams, discipline, lanes and all that stuff, and then the last ballgame we took a step backward. We're playing better athletes (for OSU) than we did a year ago, but younger athletes, too, so I'm hoping they continue to learn to do a better job on coverage teams and the protection aspect of the punt team, all that part of it. We need to have a real good, solid week on special teams this week.'
(On finally playing at home after opening with two games on the road) 'I'm happy to be at home. The biggest thing for us now is to be back on kind of a routine schedule. I was glad to be able to give them a Saturday and a Monday off; we'll practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and have a run-through on Friday, then play a game Saturday, and that's our routine. That's probably as big a deal as anything for us right now, and it will be good to come home to play.'
(Specifically, what do you want to do to put more balance in the offense and get tailback Dwight Wright involved more?) 'Hand it off to him more. I look back to the start of the LSU game and we had the turnover, and we threw every time to score on that drive and then just kind of mixed in the run. Then this last week we got out of it because of the way the game developed, but that's no excuse. I do have to call more runs, and we have to establish that part of our game better.'
(Do you want to give Ryan Cole more of a shot at tailback?) 'Dwight Wright is our starter, but Ryan Cole is going to play, also; we want to give him the ball. He's a very tough runner and they kind of complement each other, they're a little different style and they're both pretty darn confident. I like how they've reacted so far. Dwight is competitive and versatile, and Ryan is faster than you think and he's also powerful - he weighs about 225, so I think between the two of them we can get some good stuff going.'
(With construction of the Reser Stadium expansion going in within sight of the field, is that going to seem strange or be special?) 'I think it's kind of special. I don't think it will affect the football game at all; it will affect people getting into the stadium and that kind of thing and be a little disruptive. But generally speaking, it's just a sign of a very exciting event happening - sometime next year, the opening of the stadium (expansion). I think we all look at it as a positive vision.'
(You said that the loss at Boise State was a step back - how and where is that so?) 'There were quite a few steps back where we didn't play as well as we wanted to. We weren't ourselves on defense; I think we got thrown off of our game. And on special teams, we didn't play smart football. Then offensively, we were too one-dimensional; we had some good plays and good stuff, but that's not enough to win the ballgame.'
(What does OSU wide receiver Mike Hass' performance at Boise State represent to you, considering Hass came to Oregon State as a walkon?) 'Mike started out being a great story for us. I had him in spring ball the first year and didn't really notice him, then as we got into fall camp he said to me, `I didn't do anything this spring, I didn't play particularly well, I didn't do anything' because I kind of asked him where he came from. But in fall camp, he just started making plays. He was behind (former wide receiver) James Newson in the alternation you have and the rotations in practice, and he was good. He made a ton of plays, and we finally said, `Why stick him over there behind James? Let's put him over there on the other side and see how he competes there.' He won that job, then kind of fit in and started making plays, and had a lot of big catches. Mike has that uncanny ability to be able to locate a ball deep; some guys have a real difficulty with that but he can find it and adjust to it and catch the football. He did that last year quite often. And besides his ability to catch, another of his attributes is that he's very tough - he'll go get it, and he doesn't really care.'
(Is containing New Mexico tailback DonTrell Moore one of the keys to this game?) 'Absolutely. He's a very good back. We did have a good game against him defensively - that was the difference - in the bowl game against them. We were able to control that part of the game, then get some good field position and make some things happen. This guy is good. Their offense is definitely taking a step up. Their quarterback is a year older and playing better. They've got a lot of stuff going for them. They've got pretty good balance, and then he's an exciting back.'
(How is Oregon State emotionally this week?) 'I didn't feel great about how we appeared on Sunday, necessarily. I think it was probably pretty natural that everybody was down. But I think as the week progresses and we get started today with our preparation for New Mexico and get to practice and get going again, I think we'll be fine. We talked about this schedule and this season right off the bat with our team, that we absolutely had to live in the moment because each game was going to be tough in its own way and very special in its own way. If you can't approach it that way, if you can't kind of learn from the past and then go on to the future, then we can be in trouble. So our deal right now is to focus on today's practice. And I think our kids are pretty tough-minded and tough kids, and have always worked hard. So I'm encouraged by all of that, and I think we'll be in a great frame of mind for the game.'
(Does the extra day off this week help Oregon State?) 'It was good for us, for sure. The long trip, coupled with the short week - I think just mentally, for our players, it was a good thing.'
(Can you get much from the tape of the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl, or do you throw it out because these are two new teams?) 'New players, new season, whole new deal. We look at it just to see what they might have been thinking in the ballgame, but we pay more attention to what they've done against Washington State and Texas Tech than we do to that ballgame last year.'
(What have you seen from New Mexico in those first two games of 2004?) 'Their team is pretty well balanced and they're playing well on special teams. Defensively, they're just different. Rocky has coached this defense for a while, and a credit to him is that he's being copied. I said last year, it's something to have a defense named after you and everybody talks about `the Rocky Long defense' and there's a lot of variety to it. Like I said, if you're not sharp, you're in trouble. One of the common denominators is, they've been very, very disruptive to a couple of pretty good football teams at the start of the year. And offensively, they're solid; they throw the ball down the field probably more ... they throw some screens that look pretty good, and they'll throw some hitches, but what they really like to do is play-action and throw the ball down the field. They pay close attention to protection so their quarterback can let that thing develop down the field, and they give you enough action to draw people up so they try to get one-on-one coverage off you and they were able to do that in the first couple of ballgames very well. I was impressed with that. Overall, they're a good solid football team. They have an aggressive, different style of defense and are very efficient and solid on offense with an athletic quarterback.'
(Who will Oregon State's placekicker be this week?) 'John Dailey is going to kick; there's a good chance that Alexis Serna will kick off. Alexis is probably a little ahead in directional kicking, but John Dailey is going to do the kicking and right now I'd say that Alexis will be kicking off.'
(OSU's record with you as head coach and New Mexico's record with Rocky Long as head coach has each shown improvement each year. Are we looking at two of the best coaches around?) 'I don't worry about that. I do have a lot of respect for Rocky; I coached against him when he was here and at UCLA, and he's still got very close friends in this town. I've got a lot of respect for him and I've followed their program pretty closely because of that.'
(On the success of mid-major conference teams against Bowl Championship Series conference teams) 'For people who watch college football, there's always something each Saturday that's pretty interesting. That's been a very, very tough place to go the last few years is Manhattan (Kansas State); for Fresno State to go in there ... and Boise State has a good football team. You see it all the time. There are good enough teams and talent everywhere to win a ballgame. That's why each game is its own deal. The mental part enters into it, as it will this week; it will be big for both teams that way. And then physically - they get good players, too, and there are guys out there.'
(On Oregon State defensive end Bill Swancutt and what he means to the Beavers) 'He's kind of a cornerstone guy, and I don't mean to overuse that. He's very, very special because I think Bill epitomizes what a football player is all about. He's a very hard worker on and off the field. He's definitely an emotional football player. And one of the things I respect about him most is, he's got talent. He's got some stuff as a pass rusher and he's physical and strong. But he's absolutely a play-to-play guy. You can count on him every play to give everything and run to the football and be what you want to be on defense. This defense, over the past quite a few years, has had a lot of pride and he's part of the reason for that.' (On Swancutt vs. Boise State) 'Boise State did a nice job of paying close attention to Bill. They turned the protection back to him quite a bit so the tackle would pick him up and the guard would be on his hip, ready if Bill made an inside move, so they did a nice job of that. Then they used a back on him a little bit to chip off of him and make some plays. He still played a good, solid football game and caused problems but they paid close attention to him - which will happen.'
(On Oregon State defensive tackle Sir Henry Anderson - and what you thought when you initially heard his first name) 'He has come a long way. He's got talent, he's got quickness, he's strong. He's a big guy who we absolutely need in the middle. We lost arguably one of our very, very best players in Dwan Edwards, so filling that role in there with Sir Henry and Alvin Smith and Ben Siegert - the three of them intermixing in that is really important. Sir Henry's growth and development from last winter to spring to fall camp - he's playing solid football and done a good job. I just kind of got used to his name - that's his real name. I visited his high school this spring and got a little more background that I could use. He's a good guy, and he's growing in this program. He's going to be a good player.'
(On Oregon State linebacker Chaz Scott) 'All indications are that he'll be back, full speed ahead.'
(On Oregon State tight end Joe Newton) 'Without getting into specifics, we'll keep a close eye on it for a couple days. He'll continue to be checked, but I think he'll be able to go on Saturday.'