Riley Meets The Press

Nov. 2, 2004

(NOTE: Oregon State's win at Arizona will be replayed in the Sacramento/Chico/Fresno area on Comcast Channel 34 on Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 4 at 2 p.m.)

(On Southern California and playing the No. 1-ranked team in the nation) 'It is a big challenge and also a great opportunity for our football team. The Trojans are very, very good at every phase, a very balanced football team, a lot of speed. For us, it's another one of those games we deem as just a great opportunity to go play and play extremely well and play for 60 minutes. That's the kind of game it will be.'

(Is USC as dominant as it has been the past two seasons?) 'I think they're flying high right now. It's awfully hard to say if they're better, but they have done a great job of improving during the year. We talk about that all the time, that's been one of our goals - to try to get better every ballgame. I think these guys, as of late, have been very dominating and very difficult to play against, to score against, to move the football against, to stop. I mean, in all phases they've been very, very good.'

(Someone said recently that the only vulnerability USC may have is its cheerleaders this year. Is that true?) 'I know nothing about their cheerleaders. They (the Trojans) are not vulnerable from what I've seen on the tape.'

(What makes USC quarterback Matt Leinart so good?) 'He's got tremendous poise. He manages a game and a team very well. He appears to make great decisions, so he's smart and well-prepared, both. He gets rid of the ball quickly when he has to, and he throws very accurately. He's nifty enough to be an athlete back there. He's got a lot of stuff going for him.'

(How do you feel about OSU quarterback Derek Anderson right now?) 'I think he's had three very good games in a row and managed our team to victories in the last three games. I think that all is good. It was fairly disruptive in our last ballgame early with the blitzes, and I thought he handled that and made some good plays out of what could have been bad plays, and has not thrown interceptions. I've been very, very pleased with his play.'

(Washington State head coach Bill Doba said he thinks what USC does with defensive tackles Mike Patterson and Shaun Cody is the key there. The Trojan defenders are all good, but does it start with those two?) 'Those two guys are very, very good, very active. They try, a lot of times, to get them both very wide, playing on the guards and isolate those guards. That's a smart tactic; that's where those outside shades of the guards ... when Warren Sapp was going big at Tampa Bay, that's where he played. He isolated on a guard and they got a lot of movement. Even though it's in the interior, you can have space because it's hard to get help to that guy. If you do get help, you have to bring a tackle down and that changes your whole protection scheme. That's a very good point by Bill.'

(Will you break out the video of OSU's 3-0 win over No. 1 USC in 1967 this week?) 'I don't know where that is; I don't have a copy of it. But we'll make reference to that; that was a great moment in Oregon State history, for sure. It was obviously a different era, different team.'

(With USC's defensive tackles being as good as they are, does it mean you may see less blitzing to get pressure on OSU's quarterback?) 'That's the beauty to their game - they do blitz, and they blitz well. They'll bring four guys from either side of the field, so you've got to be aware and be ready for the whole package, though I'm sure they feel pretty good about their four-man rush, too.'

(On USC tailback/returner Reggie Bush) 'He's very effective when he does get the ball, and he's a tremendous returner, we have a lot of respect for him in that area. He's a great receiver and he's a very good runner. He's as versatile football player and he can do it all. And because of how they use him, they're looking for matchup problems, that's what their game is with him, and he presents problems with it.'

(On the danger of USC being able to match Bush up with a linebacker, and also on whether you punt to him) 'We might have to punt and we'll have to be very careful when we do. The other thing about the matchup, I alluded to a moment ago - I think that's a big factor. Norm (Chow, USC offensive coordinator) does a masterful job of trying to isolate Reggie and get the matchup he wants. They utilize him very well.'

(On how far Oregon State has come in the past month) 'You have to appreciate the kids' resilience and perserverance. Those things (in a 1-4 start) all begin to weigh on themselves, for sure. No matter the caliber opponent, the losses feel the same to them. I appreciate the fact that we stayed with it and played well enough at Washington to get the win, and played a little better the next week. Now we've at least climbed back to .500 and given ourselves a chance in this fourth quarter of the season to make something good happen.'

(OSU quarterback Derek Anderson has been intercepted just once in the past three games - is that a result of what he's doing, or the line and everyone around him also playing better, or a combination?) 'I think all factors. Even though it's been rather meager, in some regards it's been good for us in that we've run the ball better and that has given us a chance to manage the game more balanced. It's like we've said all along - things go better when you can run a little bit, and that's been a factor. In some areas, we've grown, too, in our offensive line in some ways and those guys are getting more and more experience and they're hard workers. So, coupled with their preparation and their experience playing in games, they've had a chance to improve.'

(On the health of OSU linebacker Jonathan Pollard) 'Jonathan Pollard is in a boot right now. We'll have to play it day-to-day as to whether he goes. Right now, I'd have to say he's doubtful, but who knows?'

(Where is USC overrated and where are the Trojans underrated?) 'I don't think they're overrated anywhere - they're rated very well. They're very good, and they've won so many games in a row they deserve the accolades they've had; that's not easy to do, to have that many ballgames and not stumble for a long time. You have to appreciate that, first of all. They don't have very many chinks. In order to beat them, you've got to really play well as far as protecting the football and big plays. Big plays in the kicking game have been huge for them, as of late in particular. And their firepower and capability to strike quickly on offense, obviously. And they create stuff defensively. You have to minimize all those things, you have to not give them easy touchdowns, anything, and then play very sound defensively, play very sound and smart in the kicking game, tackle well. And then offensively, control the football, make plays. They're all going to be tight windows in this one, it's not going to be easy. You have to make plays in tight windows and sustain whatever you can, then be willing to punt and play field position and do a good job that way.'

(Why will Oregon State win?) 'I think why we will win is a good question. We are at a point now that we have probably played our best, most-consistent football throughout the year in the last three ballgames. And our team has risen to the occasion previously in what was perceived as an overmatched football game, and we came up short in that ballgame. I think this team is better than that team, but the game will be played and we will have our opportunity, and we will have to play very well. But those are the reasons why we can win this game.'

(Have you ever crossed paths professionally with USC head coach Pete Carroll?) 'Not coaching against him until last year.'

(Is USC's recent dominance even more impressive in this age of scholarhship limits and parity in college football?) 'It's definitely impressive, and it's harder to maintain because you don't have as many waiting in the wings as SC used to. You used to joke that USC's fourth-string running back was going to get drafted back in the 1960s and `70s, and that might still be the case. But what Pete has done there is, No. 1, he's recruited very well. He's a hard recruiter, I see him on the road a ton. We run into each other and he's out there himself, more probably than most head coaches I've seen in the past. So he recruits hard, they do a nice job of evaluating - which is the bigger half of recruiting, get the guys they want. Right now, they can be pretty selective. Then they coach them well. That's a pretty lethal combination.'

(On the level of OSU's play in the secondary right now and the challenge it will face against USC) 'I'm excited about out secondary. I've liked our group from the beginning; they're very competitive and gaining, throughout the group, more and more awareness. We have the ability to make plays back there and all those things. We'll have our biggest challenge, for sure, and we'll be isolated some and have to cover and make plays, but that's a group I have confidence in.'

(Would you consider using any tricks - like Washington State's opening onside kick -against USC?) 'I think first of all, we develop our game plan around things we do that we feel good and comfortable with that fits into their defensive scheme, that we feel we can do something to exploit what they do. That bodes for every part of the game - if it's a reverse, then it's a reverse; if it's something that's tricky like an onside kick, then it has to be executed correctly like any football play. We will try to examine all those areas and see what we could do to gain an advantage.'

(On Keith Gilbertson resigning at Washington effective at the end of the season, and on coaches resigning or being fired in midseason and being able to coach through the end of the season) 'I don't really have an opinion about it. I have a lot of respect for Keith and he's a very, very good football coach, and he's been well-respected in the coaching ranks for a long, long time. I think that if he wants to stay on and he wants to stay on to finish the season and it's a mutual thing, then it's a good thing. You go on with your kids and finish it.'

(On OSU quarterback Derek Anderson's legacy right now and how it would be impacted by adding a win over a No. 1-ranked team) 'He can always add to it. He'll have a tremendous legacy as one of the most productive and one of the winningest quarterbacks in a long time at this school, so he'll have a very positive image no matter what happens. But obviously in the next three games, if he finishes strong that will just add to his already-fine legacy.'