Coaches Corner

Both coaches meet with the media Tuesday to discuss Saturday's contest. While the buzz around Corvallis has been focused on Derek Anderson, the talk around Las Cruces has been the resurgence of the Aggie program under head coach Tony Samuel.

"They are explosive. They have a great running back, a couple of great receivers." - NMSU head coach Tony Samuel

Last year Samuel led the Aggies to a 7-5 record which was their first seven-win season since 1967. The crimson and white dominated the Sun Belt Conference with a 5-1 record and almost made an appearance in a bowl game.

The New Mexico State seventh year coach immediately addressed an issue that is at the forefront of every Beaver fans mind, the Oregon State offense. "They are explosive. They have a great running back, a couple of great receivers," Samuel said. "Jackson is a big runner with speed. They love to get him the ball. They had some good sustained drives against Fresno State. The thing that got them was turnovers."

The Aggies first game of the season matched them against No. 5 Texas in Austin. The Las Cruces boys held the Longhorns scoreless in the first quarter and grabbed a seven point lead early in the second before Texas exploded for 66 unanswered points. Special teams play, bad decisions and turnovers killed the Aggies. "We just have to keep improving. We need to eliminate the turnovers, that's very important. We need to improve on special teams, kickoff and punt return."

The Beavers and Aggies have met only once. At that time the Beavers were ranked #22 and were on their way to a 11-1 record. New Mexico State put up a tough fight in Las Cruces, but the Beavers were victorious 27-22.

This time around NMSU travels to OSU to face a similar team they faced in 2000, just with a different staff and not an undefeated record. "They really aren't that much different defensively. It's a new staff, but they haven't changed that much defensively. If you look at their offense, they remind you of Cal. They run timing routes, the running game, screens to the backs, the ball is released a lot of times before the receiver makes his final cut on the route."

Samuel is happy with his team's progress and is excited about the future of the Aggie program that Samuel believes will become top tier in the coming years. "We aren't near where we are going to be. We are working some new guys into our offense and defense. I like our attitude."

And keys to the game? "We have to shore up some weaknesses or we are going to have a problem. We need to eliminate the deep ball. We need to eliminate turnovers. At times we click well on offense and sometimes we don't. We need to get some of the young guys up to speed."

Specifically, the Aggies need to take away the run and prevent the big plays. If the Aggies can succeed in those two areas they have a chance at an upset.

He also added more pressure on a already struggling quarterback doesn't hurt. "You've got to mix it up. If you put on pressure, you better get there because they do a good job of protecting. He's not the most mobile quarterback we'll face, but he can run. He's a big kid and has a live arm. He is tall, so he'll be able to throw over the top of people."

 

"This is going to be a solid football team coming in here. They're physical, they run the ball, and they play very sound defense." - OSU head coach Mike Riley

After a tumultuous game and weekend Mike Riley faced the media to address the team's attitude, Derek Anderson, and New Mexico State.

Riley quickly made clear that Anderson is the Beavers' starting quarterback even though he is going through a difficult time. "He's part of our team, and we're all part of the team, and we all went through a rough time and now we're on to the next step. He's our starting quarterback."

Fans across the nation were anxious to hear about the possibility of playing backup Adam Rothenfluh, but Riley did not guarantee playing time for the junior against NMSU. "That's a gametime thing, an as-we-go-through-the-game decision. There won't be anything that's predetermined."

A number of citizens of Beaver Nation look to the NMSU contest as a "warm-up" game to get the Beavers confidence up and back on track to conquering the Pac-10. But Riley noted that the Aggie defense ranks #25 in total defense in the nation. New Mexico State also runs the option which orange and black teams have had trouble containing in the past. "This is a solid football team. A few years back, they beat Arizona State when it was ranked 22nd in the country. This is going to be a solid football team coming in here. They're physical, they run the ball, and they play very sound defense."

New Mexico State currently uses two quarterbacks, Buck Pierce and Paul Dombrowski, in their offense. Each provides a different look, which Aggie coaches like and Beaver coaches have noted. "They both run the offense very well. These guys are both going to play in the game."

The Oregon State staff is pleased with Steven Jackson's role in the offense as a runner and receiver. While the plan for Jackson has worked out the plan for the rest of the offense is to balance the attack so teams cannot stack up against the run. "We wanted him to be able to catch some balls; he's obviously good at it and a factor in that regard. We wanted to be able to run the ball and give him the ball a number of times in a game. What we have to do with the rest of our offensive game is balance that out and make sure people can't just stack up on him. We have to make some plays in other areas."

Last but not least, Riley talked about freshman Ryan Gunderson, the Beavers third string quarterback. "I've made the point that I'd rather save his redshirt year, and that's the track we're on right now, but I think he's coming along well. We always travel with him, and he takes part in practice like he's preparing for the game because at this point he is our third quarterback."

 

Notes:

  • Based on the answers from Mike Riley at various venues across Oregon, the Beavers will focus on and improve in two areas that hurt the Beavers against Fresno State:
    • Clock management - The coaches will get the play in faster to give Anderson more time to read the defense and setup the offense. This should eliminate the abundant delay of game penalties that occurred on Friday.
    • Tight-ends - Riley will throw to the tight-ends more if they are not held in for blocking.
  • Derek Anderson will start and play the majority of the game on Saturday no matter what.

BeaverBlitz Top Stories