PRACTICE: A sense of urgency for Beavs

CORVALLIS -- Just another day in Truax? Not for Mike Riley and the Beavers. The plays were faster, the coaches were louder. As December 29 and an Alamo Bowl date with Texas creeps ever closer, here's a closer look at what happened out on the Oregon State gridiron.

One practice can ultimately decide who is slated as the starting quarterback in San Antonio, according to Mike Riley. And the coaching staff is zeroing in on "that guy."

Will it be Cody Vaz or Sean Mannion?

"We are closer," Riley said Monday. "We haven't said anything to the players yet because we still don't know for sure. We have been getting a lot of practice in, so they (Mannion/Vaz) are getting plenty of work. It's not like we really need to worry about the numbers.

"With these guys, we are pretty confident that whoever we pick to start will do a good job."

But still, a lot could be riding on the decision.

The Texas Longhorns are stacked defensively, and this is especially true at the defensive end position. Senior Alex Okafor (60 tackles, eight sacks and 12 TFL) and Junior Cedric Reed (40 tackles, one sack and five TFL) have had success stopping the outside run and QB rollouts this season.

Oregon State has its own dynamic duo at the defensive end slots in Dylan Wynn and Scott Crichton. So how have the Beavs been preparing for the big, bad, Texas D-line? Riley stresses the fundamentals like a grandmother insists that things were better in the good ol' days.

"They (the Texas D-line) are all pretty special players," Riley said. "It is going to be a big deal, dealing with their pass rush up front and being able to block those guys.

"One good thing is that we have seen a lot of good players this year. And you hope that is good preparation for what we will see."

Junior ‘backer Michael Doctor called the Texas athletes "super freaks" and Riley echoed that sentiment.

But the orange and black were shaking things up for a significant portion of practice today and look to give Texas themselves plenty of things to deal with. We'd tell you more but we'd have to then sequester you and shut off all contact from the outside world until kickoff.

Meanwhile, the OSU receiving corps against the UT secondary figures to go a long ways towards deciding this one.

"We know we have a big challenge (with the Texas secondary)," Riley said. "We are going to have to compete against man-to-man coverage more and our guys are getting ready to do that.

"We feel really good about our receiving group – when fans and people interested (in OSU) are looking at this game, our receiving corps and our athletic ability against a secondary is a big, big part of that. If you don't do a good job up front with the run and pass game, nothing else really matters."

Who I have got my eye on (still): Richard Mullaney.
If I'm Mike Riley, I would be having one hell of a time deciding whether or not senior Kevin Cummings or the redshirt freshman Mullaney should start in the slot position against Texas. Mullaney impressed throughout practice on Monday, and holds the advantage over Cummings in size, hands and jumping ability. But Cummings has experience and a deep knowledge of the playbook. Decisions, decisions.

Notable Note:
Obviously, not every member of the Beaver football squad is eligible to travel with the team to San Antonio. On Monday, Riley addressed the situation to a degree, indicating that while there are a handful of players who will not be traveling to Texas, none of OSU's starters fall into that category. Sweat off the brow. Riley did not comment on whether suspended players Rudolf Fifita, Dyllon Mafi or Mana Rosa would be traveling. The three Beavs were suspended after an incident a couple weeks ago at a Corvallis night spot. The charges have since been downgraded to misdemeanors but their status with the team and for the bowl game remains unanswered by Riley and Oregon State.

BeaverBlitz Top Stories