OSU NOTEBOOK: Beavs slow their roll

CORVALLIS - It's Week 11 but it's not too late for the Beaver coaching staff to implement needed changes this season. All week long headed into the titanic tile against the Huskies, OSU coaches have been talking about "detailing the game." And for offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, that's taken physical form. Allow me to explain…

Langsdorf, as well as other members of the coaching staff, have set aside time this week that would normally be used on repetitions and frequent rotations to show their charges exactly how routes and coverages need to flow and be executed.

This has been no more apparent than with the starting corps of quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends.

Indeed, Oregon State's coaching staff has ramped up their efforts this week to try and help their players to thrive on Saturday. The last few games, junior QB Sean Mannion has struggled with his accuracy and finding open targets in the pattern against press-coverage. Junior receiver Brandin Cooks and fellow junior H-back Connor Hamlett alone cannot shoulder the lion's share of the offensive production if the Beavs hope to be best UW and move to 7-4.

OSU needs more options.

"Any time you are struggling with something, you are going to look for a better way to do it," Langsdorf said. "So we certainly are striving for that every game week."

Langsdorf's "better way" this week involves more teaching – he is in the camp that sees enforcing the little details as not only good coaching form, but also fundamental to the teacher-student aspect.

"We've got to be great teachers," Langsdorf said. "Even when there are some young players, they have to be up to speed and ready to play, we can just go in there and have guys making assignment errors.

"That's on us. We've got to teach them and find ways to help them out."

THERE'S A TRADE-OFF. Time spent on this takes away from something else – the practice hours a school can have each week is limited by the NCAA. But head man Mike Riley has also said this "further detailing" would happen within the confines of what the program already does. Taking 15 minutes out of practice, for example, to physically show the starting offense what a series of routes must look like in order to achieve a desired result has been deemed by the head man as more critical than more reps and the status quo.

And so that is exactly what OSU coaches have done this week.

"We took a little more walk-through time, we've been teaching probably a little bit more in the classroom – (we) felt maybe they would get more out of, on the field, walking through some stuff rather than talking it through on the film and the grease boards," Langsdorf said. "We certainly felt like we needed a little bit more detail, and so we slowed it down a little bit…"

SLOWING THE PROGRAM'S roll this week, from my chair, worked for the Beavers. Coaches and players alike were able to better zero in on specific areas in need of improvement. There was more communication, more concentration and a better focus on the fundamentals.

Yes, the ASU loss is old news, but the reasons for that loss still grip the fringes of Langsdorf's memory. And it's still a little hard to set down the steaming cup of reality that is Sean Mannion's seven interceptions in two games.

"When you look at the interceptions – there's lot of different reasons for them – whether it's a decision or an accuracy issue or a route, all those things factor in to throwing interceptions," Langsdorf said. "Maybe (Sean is) off his back foot because there's a guy in his face – whatever. There are different reasons for why it happens and we've got to study those..."

Yes, OSU faced three very tough defenses in their recent string of losses. But there has also been a fistful of mistakes by the Beavs as well. And you can bet that Washington's 19th ranked pass defense is not going to sit idly by while Mannion, Cooks and Hamlett have their fun on Saturday.

Langsdorf is banking on determined route running to be the key to success for Oregon State on offense.

"There's a lot of things that go into the details of the routes, and there are some that are obvious and some that aren't very obvious," he said. "Whether it's the detail of a route, or the accuracy of a throw, or the protection affecting it – there's a lot of factors in those things.

"We've got to do a good job of continuing to get in the right positions, continue to run, continue to attack the ball. And that stuff (comes through) experience, detail and practice. I feel like, up to this point, we've had a great week in terms of that and I think our guys are executing at a higher level."

And that sounds like exactly what the Beaver offense needs to do – execute at a higher level. How will the tweaks made this week in practice pan out? We'll all find out Saturday night (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.)

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