Mike Riley starts his climb back up the cliff

MIKE RILEY SAID the end of the season is always like falling off a cliff – it’s over so suddenly. Yet the drop this season must have felt especially long and treacherous, with the Beavers losing six of their last seven and a runaway train of a loss in the Civil War. But recruiting beckons, and the Beaver coaches are already out on the recruiting trail en force. And that includes Riley.

“It's going to be, now, a time where we have to put our energy into recruiting and eventually into an evaluation and a plan for going forward in football. We've got a lot to do ahead of us,” said Mike Riley on Sunday.

All the coaches were either on the road Sunday or leaving on Monday. Riley himself met with team Monday morning and then hit the road for the in-home visit period.

As for the players, their offseason conditioning program under strength and conditioning director Bryan Miller began today.

"They're on their own for a time, but there will be a very specific offseason program for them that they'll be involved in," said Riley. "My first message will be about finishing strong in school. We don't want any issues there concerning progress toward graduation and eligibility. It's dead week this week. It's finals week next week. So it's gotta be a good attention to detail there. Coaches are going to be leaving (for recruiting, and the graduate assistants) will kind of be in charge of keeping that part of it going strong."

Oregon State has 21 known verbal commits already, and can sign a maximum of 25 -- there is no more oversigning in college football. So a lot of recruiting going forward is going to be holding onto the guys they've got, while putting the finishing touches on the class.

"We feel really good about what's taken place to right now," said Riley. "There's no buyer's remorse or anything like that going on. So what we continue to do is recruit players that are still out there and communicate with guys that have been committed and that will go on until Signing Day. Our class is pretty full, but it can be fairly fluid, too.

"A lot of that for this year is already done. So we'll get on course for also recruiting next year's class, and there's already plans in the works for how we're going to do that and some of it with some new ideas and thoughts about how to approach it... Recruiting is our lifeline to success, so we've got to find ways more and more to be right."

Riley was asked for his early thoughts on 2015. He said there will be competition at quarterback, but Luke Del Rio enters this offseason as the No. 1 QB.

"I actually like both lines," said Riley. "...All the offensive linemen return, and hopefully by the time we get to spring practice, Isaac Seumalo will be in that group...And then the defensive line, I think there's a good core there of good players. A guy like Jalen Grimble coming back and getting him completely healthy, and hopefully we'll get Kyle Peko in that mix."

"Then it will be development of new starters at linebacker and at the safety positions, for sure, and I think we have a good skill set there, too. And of course, just overall development of each guy in our program will make the ship rise."

There's been a growing clamor for the Beavs to change their offense from the deliberate pro-style attack to something more representative of the high-scoring, high-paced attacks in college football today.

"Whether you're in the spread or doing what we do, people run power-type running schemes or zone-type running schemes," said Riley. "Whatever we try to do, we'll build on the foundation. And everything starts with line play, right? We can build on the foundation of what we're doing there and how the look could be different, depending on what we add to the picture. We'll certainly, if we add, we'll take out, so we can be good teachers at what we plan on doing.

"We plan on, yes, having a little more versatility in how we approach the offense because we may have a different skill set at quarterback. This is preliminary talk and the early stages of evaluation, so it's probably not very specific... But one thing's for sure: We will explore and we will start by evaluating where we're at."

Riley said he was more energized than ever and that tough times seem to bring that out in him.

"We're always in the process of change and growth," Riley said. "We feel real good about the players in our program and in the recruiting that's going on, some of it to fill immediate needs and some of it for development purposes with freshmen. This is always a long-term plan for us. And then the other thing is that if you stay in it long enough, you're going to experience some good years and some bad years. We have always been able to recognize what we need to do, and in the course of time, get better.

"It wasn't long ago that we were 3-9 (2011) and went 9-3 (in 2012 regular season). So we're kind of motivated by the fact that we've got some good people here in the program and (are) looking to add more good people -- and through a good evaluation and a good course set, we'll be better the next go around."

NOTABLE NOTE:
Xavier Hawkins was the only true freshman who didn't redshirt this past season. "I always like to redshirt guys, if possible," said Riley. "Some of them are ready to go. I always tell guys to come here not to redshirt, but to play, but usually the majority of them redshirt. I'm very excited about the group. I watch them daily on scout teams and usually get a feel for how that might look in their entryway into spring ball, and I'm encouraged by that. I think we've got some good guys in the wings that will help us get better."

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