RILEY: On the Huskies, Quon and more

MIKE RILEY ON Tuesday spoke at length about the Beavs' opponent -- Washington. Of course, he also had more to say on the subject of James Rodgers -- and what the loss of a player and leader like Quon for the rest of the season means going forward for Oregon State.

Opening Statement…
"As you know, it's another trip to Seattle and another big Pac-10 conference game. They're all like the Super Bowl, they're all like playoff games. It's a great time of year. It's heading into the mid-year time where things are not even close to being defined for sure, but they're starting to take shape a little bit. It's really important that our team continues to step forward and get better. I think that we've done that the last two weeks, for sure. Our week of preparation and then the game have to be part of the continual climb of getting better and getting good position in our league."

On James Rodgers
"We are obviously going to be missing the services of James Rodgers for the rest of the season. It's a big blow to the Beavers, not only as a player, but as a leader and a person that really makes practice a lot of fun. He will still be a leader for this team and very involved, but because of his knee injury and surgery that's coming up, he will be out. We have received word that he will be eligible to return next year and play his fifth year. That is a silver lining to a bad situation. There will be questions about whether or not he wants to do that. For us right now, we don't even need to know that answer. I'm glad to know that he has that as a viable option, which I'm sure that he will be interested in."

On the emotional ramifications of losing Rodgers…
"It's hard to imagine. We've had three years of him all over the place, so the finality of not having him for this season probably is just hitting home to a lot of guys. I think that James Rodgers, for this 2010 team, his impact will remain. First of all, he'll be here, and he'll be around, and he'll be a great leader, even though not playing for this team. The example he has set heading into this season, through the beginning of this season, I think those are the lasting traits of a way a person can impact the team. That's not going to disappear. What we've got to obviously find in the football end of it is who's going to gain all these yards. I've been very pleased with the people that have stepped in already this season earlier and played, and that's why I don't think this team will panic. I don't think this team will get overly down about it. They will be terribly disappointed, but they will not let it affect how they go forward.

On Markus Wheaton stepping up with the other receivers…
"There is no doubt, and it will trickle down further from Markus Wheaton, Jordan Bishop, Aaron Nichols. It will go to Geno Muñoz, Darrell Catchings and Kevin Cummings. James Rodgers had a ton of roles on this team, so the trickle-down effect hurts depth in a lot of spots. You've got a first-line receiver and basically one of our top runners, and then you talk about our No. 1 kickoff returner and our No. 1 punt returner. At the same time, you can't spin the disappointment; I'm not going to try. I'm looking forward to the opportunity that Wheaton, Bishop, Nichols, and Jordan Poyer have in the return game. Our next deal is going to be, ‘okay, let's step up and go' and we've done that once this year. That's why I don't think this team will blink. We'll just go out to practice today and begin going, and get ready for the Huskies."

On preparing for Jake Locker being a mobile quarterback…
"You have to prepare for all of what Jake Locker is, which is one of the most versatile players in America – passing, running, doing what Jake Locker does. That's what you have to get ready for."

On playing well against ASU and in the second half against Arizona without James Rodgers…
"I would think the point was made from within the ranks of our team, and it wasn't verbally said or vocally said, it was a statement of action. We did play well – guys stepped in and made plays. Nobody blinked, nobody went in the tank, nobody said, ‘oh no we can't do this now.' They just played. That's why I have a lot of faith in a guy like Nichols. Of course we need Bishop to continue to step up, and we need the tight ends to play their role. Everybody's got to chip in on this deal. They did last week, at the second half, and they did against Arizona State. We have all the faith in the world that they can do this. I don't want to gloss over it and say, ‘we can do this,' because this loss of James Rodgers is a terrible thing. Not only because of his production, but because of who he is, and simply how much fun it is to have him out there working every day. He's probably one of, if not the most, conscientious players I've been around in 35 years of football. That's why I know that he'll rehab better than anyone in history, and he will be back out there playing, and he'll do well again."

On defense and the unit's identity…
"We want to continue to grow defensively. At this time of the year, we're not going to be anywhere near where we necessarily would like to be statistically in any of these categories. This is not a year of stats for the Beavers. We're not going to lead the conference in defense, with the teams we've played early in the year. and how the numbers have been. The most important stat for us defensively now will be points allowed. We continue to get better on third-down and do great red-zone defense, keep them out of the end zone. Against the offenses that we see, that will be a big chore. That's a valid thing. Offensively we need to continue to grow. If we can keep that third-down percentage up where it is, not turn the ball over like we've done a nice job of, and then keep getting better with production, both run and pass, that's where we need to go. Continue to have rock-solid special teams and a good return game. If we get all those parts we can grow as a team and get better. We've played some good teams, spread you out, great quarterbacking; I thought Arizona's offense was outstanding. What they did combination run-pass, they way the quarterback played, it was a very difficult chore. But they didn't get that many points. We made plays to get stops. We made plays to keep them from scoring touchdowns.

On the atmosphere at Washington…
"I told the coaches yesterday as we were watching the game, that's what changed. We haven't had to worry about the noise at Husky Stadium for a while, but we're going to get ready for it this week. I watched a Nebraska offensive tackle actually almost not move for the entire first part of a play because he obviously couldn't hear the snap. He was standing there, 21 other guys were playing football, and he was just standing there. Obviously the noise is back, and I think it rivals any noise when it's really going. It was the first place that I encountered in the Pac-10 back in '93 that it was a really a factor. Now of course, Autzen, and I would like to think our place, have changed a lot, but it started out being the hardest to handle. The great thing for us is that we've been in great environments that way already, and I've been pleased with how we handled them. We won't take anything for granted and we'll work with noise again, but I'm glad we've had the preparation this year that we've had."

On Locker's abilities…
"Jake's not only a great runner – he's got speed, he's strong. It's got all the makings of a very, very difficult night with the way Locker is, with the way their runner is, the way their receivers are. They're a pretty darn good offensive football team. Locker gives you that element that's different. You get in position to stop a power play, you can get in a good coverage to stop an out-route, but that extra dimension of the quarterback just pulling the ball down and going. Ryan Katz did it. Katz got us three first downs, and those are defensive killers. You got everything covered, everything looks good, quarterback takes off; it's difficult."

Quotes furnished courtesy of Oregon State SID's Hank Hager.

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