"(Practice) turns into the specifics of what Hawaii does," Riley said Tuesday. "You prepare for what they do and who they are doing it with. That's how every week changes basically – and then we try and gain more and more confidence throughout the week."
Riley and his staff did a fair amount of homework on Hawaii this offseason, touching on the various offensive strategies of Norm Chow. But upon watching tape of the USC-Hawaii game, Riley was also struck by something other than the offense.
"Defensively, I thought they were outstanding," Riley said of Hawaii. "They really made it hard for ‘SC to have any rhythm whatsoever. The points (USC) got on offense, which was 23, were very hard to come by. (Hawaii is) very disruptive and they don't want you to run, so they commit themselves to that and they play a lot of good, tight man-to-man coverage."
There will be no underestimating Hawaii, or their coach, said Riley.
"Offensively, they are Norm Chow – scary." Riley said. "(There exists) all those parts (of the offense) there that you have to be aware of. Norm is the master of balance and (play) action passes. It's a good looking team."
THE BIG QUESTION is how will the Beaver D perform against the multiple fronts Chow will undoubtedly throw at OSU come Saturday. For insight on that, BF.C turned to defensive coordinator Mark Banker.
"What we did in the offseason (for Hawaii) was we did an extensive study of UTEP because of the fact that the (offensive) coordinator that was at Hawaii before the first game was from UTEP," said Banker. "(The styles of play) were vastly different. They were strictly gun, pistol, zone, read-zone and quarterback running – things like that. So there are still elements of that in Hawaii's offense."
"So what we've done is looked at Hawaii's offense (from before the first game) and looked at things that would overlap and join in Norm Chow's philosophies."
Banker noted that Hawaii heavily favors the shotgun and offset I-formations, occasionally intermingling the two. So in general terms and not giving away anything, what do the Beavs do to stop it?
"The specific thing, number one, is just focus within your position," said Banker. "Working with eyes, feet – making sure we are sound and not straying from (the fundamentals), being more disciplined from that standpoint.
"The other thing is finishing off plays. Whether it be in a drill, our tackling, inside-out, outside-in - whatever the approach is. Which we've done, but then all of a sudden you are in a game situation (against EWU) and obviously (it looked like) we hadn't."
Execution will always be king but putting yourself in the right position before the snap, Banker says, is also needed. It's something OSU didn't do nearly enough of this past Saturday.
"The players understand that – they've seen the tape," said Banker. "But we need to harp on those things. Within every defensive call, you've got an alignment, which is critical. We had some issues (against EWU) with alignment, so we are working with that, making special emphasis on that. If we make the special emphasis, we want the players to hear that, adhere to that, and make that a focus."
Elements of what Banker talked about - alignment, focus and coordination – were all in evidence after the Beavs' starting defense took the field on Tuesday.
Running with the 1's
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Storm Woods
FB – Tyler Anderson
H-Back – Connor Hamlett
TE – Caleb Smith
LT- Michael Philipp
LG- Josh Andrews
C- Isaac Seumalo
RG- Roman Sapolu
RT- Grant Enger
FL – Victor Bolden
SE – Richard Mullaney/Obum Gwacham
SB –Kevin Cummings
DE – Dylan Wynn
DT – John Braun
DT – Mana Rosa
DE –Scott Crichton
WIL –Jabral Johnson
MIK – Joel Skotte
SAM –Michael Doctor
CB- Rashaad Reynolds
CB- Steven Nelson
CB-Sean Martin (Nickel)
FS – Tyrequek Zimmerman
SS – Ryan Murphy