CORVALLIS -- Mike Riley took the media for an imaginary walk-through on Thursday. OSU's head man gave a state of the union on the cusp of fall camp and shared his collective hopes, doubts and aspirations for the Beavs in a wide-ranging discussion.
Riley on the QB situation moving forward:
"We will keep you informed. You don't have to ask me every day because it will be one of those deals where I won't tell you anything because I won't know. Hopefully we can come up with a definition for how we are going do this thing sometime in the first couple weeks."
Riley mentioned that the starting QB job will be awarded to the guy who has made the most progress since spring. Basically, he said little has changed and they're harboring a bit of a wait and see attitude.
Josh Williams is no longer with the Beavs due to "disciplinary issues" according to Riley. That makes the MIK depth very thin, he added.
Riley on the academic state of his JUCO transfers:
"Lyndon (Tulimasealii) is not going to make it (to camp). It's still up in the air a little bit about whether we just elect to greyshirt him. He is going to be one class short."
Riley is waiting on final word on the academic standing of Kyle Peko and Charles Tuaau. Riley is hopeful about both players arriving, and mentioned that he anticipates hearing more on their academic progress "in the next 24 hours."
Riley's thoughts on the 2013 schedule:
"If you don't play well, you don't win, and if you do play well you've got a shot to win. What we have to do is win the first game and then try and get better. Frankly, not playing UCLA is interesting - UCLA is a good football team on the rise. But I think starting this year and then heading into the future with seeing these new programs, these new coaches, I think we are in for lots of ‘balance' and probably lots of surprises." (By the way, ‘Oh gosh' is swiftly becoming one of my favorite Riley-isms. My take is it means, "I haven't paid attention to it, I'm seriously busy."
What can fans expect on defense? New looks, new fronts?
"We are always willing to look out of the box a little bit. What you have to do is continue to improve who you are and what you've done and throw out what you don't like, then continue to build what you do (like) and then be willing to add. You've got to be diverse in what you do and how you approach the game."
(This sounds like longhand for, 'Expect some new stuff, folks.')
Riley continued to say, "It's important in football to have an identity and have a foundation of what you do, and what you do well you've got to have good curve balls for it. And that's in every phase of the game."
Riley on John Braun:
BF.C asked Riley if the transition of Braun to DT from DE was based more on perceived need at the position, or the versatility of the senior D-lineman.
"Yes. The answer is yes," quipped Riley. And then he elaborated, just a smidge.
"We like John's bulk. He has always been very intriguing to me. He started out as an offensive player on the line, and he was athletic enough to play defensively. We could play him at end and he will do a good job, but he's got strength. With that diversity and flexibility you still need to have strength in the middle. That strength is always better coupled with athletic ability. And that's where John is going to be good for us."
Riley can get reports from his strength coaches on the football team's voluntary workouts, but he's not allowed to coach or observe. He also said he's gotten some ‘inside scoop' recently from Rashaad Reynolds and Brandin Cooks, who traveled to the Pac-12 media day with Riley.
"We are not privy to the day-by-day work that (the players) do." Riley said. "I've seen some guys around the office, but we are not there day-to-day. So we kind of see early in in camp what exactly happened. We can tell what happened in the summer time."
Riley on the CB position battle opposite Reynolds:
"We hit it right in the head with recruiting (Steven Nelson). That was a great job by Rod Perry. He appears to be a real good addition, the right kid."
As with any newcomer, there were some hurdles that Nelson had to overcome. But Riley is very fond of his progress thus far.
"My guess is he will be that much more comfortable in fall camp and through the work in fall camp will be able to emerge as a player. I'm not willing to say who is going to win the quote ‘starting job' at that spot, but you always need more than just a few starters who can play. Steven has good football IQ, and is a hard worker, dedicated and a good guy. He could emerge as a player for us in a number of different ways for us."
Riley on Gavin Andrews:
"The right tackle is new. I think Gavin Andrews has the inside track there, he looked good in the spring. There is no substitute for experience, and he doesn't have much of it but he at least has been in the games, traveling with the team a year ago, did some stuff on special teams. He is a talented, big kid that has good athletic ability.
"He has got big shoes to fill and he has got to stay up with the crowd, he can't be our weak link at that spot. So he has got to be able to step up and play both physically and mentally with the group around him. If he can do that, we are going to be okay up there."
OSU football staffers are in the process of hiring a former player to a "life after college ball" administrative role with the team. Riley said he was getting tired of guys wondering "what next?" if they didn't manage to move on to the next level. While Riley did mention that the new hire will involve a former player, he was not specific as to whom, other to say it would be a guy who has had success in the business world and it sounded like they were down to three finalists.
Terron Ward and Cooks are among Riley's top considerations for punt returner heading into fall camp.
Riley said he was very confident in the ability of guys like Zack Robinson and Cyril Noland to potentially put up a fight for the open nickel and dime slots with Jordan Poyer moving onto the NFL.
Riley noted that one of the most improved players in recent months has been linebacker Jabral Johnson. "Boy do we need more and more guys that can do things like D.J. Alexander and Michael Doctor can do. His emergence was good in the spring and we will see how he carries that through into fall camp."
Brandon Bennett also came in for some praise from Riley. He said that Bennett has a shot to jump in and earn some significant playing time in the fall. The sophomore also received an encouraging nod from Riley for his obvious physical improvement since spring camp.