COMMENTARY: Return of the want-to guys

FORGET ABOUT THE whole quarterback controversy that's been playing out in Corvallis, the Beavers have a much bigger issue to focus on. Mike Riley and the staff slightly, barely, addressed it last week -- but considerably more focus and attention is needed.

And that's changing the mindset of the players – or more accurately, it was said, bringing it back.

I spoke to a football coach who has had stints in both the college and prep ranks. He didn't want his name used, he didn't want it to even remotely appear he was trying to give Riley advice.

But after watching the first two OSU games, he was in agreement that the Beavs need to recapture that edge more than anything else. And he rejected the hypothesis this group didn't have that edge to begin with when they arrived on campus.

"Look, guys at this level don't recruit flatliners. One of the first things they're looking at is does he have a mean streak. Now, some players may have lost that over time, and you have to go about getting it back out of them. But it's there somewhere, it's definitely there," he said.

Okay, so how do you do go about doing that?

"A lot of it is punitive, frankly. You get ‘em up at 4am and run their asses, for example. It's simple behavior modification. You get them pissed off at you, and eventually they get pissed off at the other guy and rally around one another.

"Riley is not a yeller, but that can work to his advantage. When he does go off, they'll take that much more notice. But the assistants have to follow suit, too, and especially when your head coach is a lower key kind of guy," said the coach.

OSU showed some of that, at some positions, at Wisconsin, notably on the d-line and at linebacker. But not enough. And at the other spots, they showed just enough emotion to prove they had a pulse.

"There are other ways, depending on the kids you have, too," he said. "You evaluate. You can even flat out ask ‘em, What motivates you? Do you need to get yelled at? Do you need to be recognized? This is the ‘art' of coaching, beyond the schemes and routine. Pete Carroll when he was USC understood how to get guys to execute and perform – it was all about pushing the right buttons in the right guys to get ‘em to let it loose.

"Otherwise, complacency does take hold. OSU up until this last year has had stability in their coaching staff, the less they have to adjust to, the higher the comfort zone. That can lead to high performance, or it can lead to complacency."

Typically, OSU has fielded a lot of "want-to" guys, guys that weren't four stars coming out of high school but who kicked those four-star player's tails out on the college field in their junior and senior years. It's a matter of bringing that fire back out, and that's what Riley and staff must do the rest of this season, or else.

"How important is football to them? That's what you've got to get to," said the coach. "School, a girlfriend, to party, religion, being in a fraternity – guys have washed out for all those reasons at the college level. And if football isn't first or second, you have a problem.

"They spend a ton of time doing team building stuff at Oregon State, much more than your average, much more than say, UCLA. But something isn't translating. Maybe you need to light ‘em up, make life a little uncomfortable. Because right now, it isn't working."

BeaverBlitz Top Stories