Mike Riley on...

Mike Riley talks about fall camp, the offense and defense, special teams, preparing for LSU, and team identity.

The questions heading into fall camp... "Our flanker position, our slot receiver position, the offensive line a little bit - those will be very interesting places to watch. I think we have good players there, but we'll have to do a lot of coaching and evaluating early and get those guys in place in the order in which they're going to play in a ballgame. We've got to get old fast at some spots. We've got to find some people who are reliable playmakers who can go in and play, but I feel real good about our group. This is always a season of optimism on the first day of practice. I think we have a well-intentioned, hard-working group that will continue the tradition of playing hard at Oregon State."

The receivers... "I would look to some of the veteran guys first - Josh Hawkins, George Gillett, Cole Clasen. They've been here; it's their time to step up and take charge of a position - they'll be given that opportunity. I think Anthony Wheat-Brown, Marcel Love ... Brandon Powers had a very good spring. So we're looking at an assortment of guys, and we're going to have to run a lot of guys through and get them a lot of work. I'm real anxious to see how that plays out. I think there are a lot of good football players there, but who's going to take charge and make plays and be reliable - that's what we're looking for."

Opening up at LSU... "This is one of the great non-league games in the history of our school. I'm excited about the opportunity for our team to go down there and play. We'll play no tougher team in no tougher environment than down at LSU, and I think that's great for us. Does it make a difference? Absolutely. Just in the talk in the off-season from fans and boosters and media and our team, I think it's a very exciting game that will be very tough. It adds to a schedule that's very tough, also."

Preparing for LSU... "In our team periods, we'll run upwards to near 1,000 plays, which is equivalent to a whole season of plays, so we have to get a lot of work done in order to be able to compete and have the poise and confidence it takes to compete down in Death Valley."

"We met as a staff, did all the installation and set some days - probably earlier than normal - to get ready for that ballgame. One of the reasons, though, is that we're going to travel a day earlier than we normally would. We're going down there on Thursday; Thursday's practice is not going to be the same Thursday practice that we get during the year, so we're going to start back a little bit. We've done a lot of preparation for the game. We feel like every game's approach should be our 100 percent effort in everything we do, so I can't say we'll approach it much differently as far as everything we'll do to get prepared for the game. But there's definitely an added emphasis and a knowledge that we're going into a pretty good ballgame."

On establishing team identity... "We literally have to live in the moment this year - we have to take advantage of each day now that we're going through. This is a major time for us. As we look at our fall camp, we look at it in a way that we form the identity of our team now. What we do, and can do well coming out of fall camp, is who we will be."

The offensive line... "Absolutely we have a big, big job ahead of us in that regard. I'm excited about the individual talent there; I think there are some good players. I think we can develop into a very good offensive line; it's how fast we can do that that's the key. Working against the speed of our defense will be big, and we can get outmatched sometimes against a guy like (OSU defensive end) Bill Swancutt, but that's good for our guys."

Adam Koets... "Adam Koets was hurt at the end of the spring; he was the frontrunner going in at left tackle and he'll start out there Thursday. I feel great about his athletic ability; he hasn't played a lot, but that's where we're going to be with three spots there - big, big spots. It will key our offensive season, really, how that thing jells, so it's big for us."

The running backs... "The running back situation for us is very interesting. We're not going to have Steven Jackson, but nobody else is going to have Steven Jackson. He's gone; he's a unique guy. He was an every down back, for sure. I made the point that we're not going to necessarily be `running back by committee.' Dwight is sort of the incumbent; he'll start out there Thursday. He'll get strong competition from Ryan Cole and Yvenson Bernard going in. Those guys are all good football players. Now, will we play more than one back? Absolutely. We played more than one back last year; Dwight got to play certain parts of ballgames - he was already set to go in, we had a rotation for that. We will also look hard at who's the best situational back; it may not be the starter. One guy may be the starter, one guy may be the third-down back, the other guy may spell the other guy. I think they're all capable of playing. I think we'll run the ball well, I think we'll gain yards running the ball - and I say that because we have to."

Not being a one-dimensional offensive football team... "We are not going to be a one-dimensional football team; things don't go well when that happens. We're going to strive hard to be a good running team first, play-action pass, and be more efficient in the passing game - that's our goal."

On the defense... "You know, if I had a choice, I'd rather have stability on defense and feel good about it. And I think with the people we have, we have a chance to continue in the tradition of our defense here." "I feel good about our defense, I feel they have an opportunity to grow into the kind of defense we're used to here."

On the defensive line... "I like the speed of our defensive line, our defensive ends. I like the fact that we've had a couple of guys that have had great offseasons working, because they're going to get a lot of work - Sir Henry Anderson and Alvin Smith are going to be very important for us in the middle to go with Ben Siegert, and we need that kind of depth there. We need those guys to play well, and they've worked extremely hard to change their habits and their bodies. They've done a very good job that way, so I feel good about that."

On the linebackers... "I still contend this is `Linebacker U.', and that'll be a strength of our football team and I feel good about our linebackers."

On the secondary... One of the most stable positions we have is in our secondary, which is very comforting. In our conference and in the games we play, they'll be tested, but it's a good group, a conscientious group, a tough group. We lost Lawrence Turner, but I'm excited about the guys who are there trying to replace him. Sabby Piscitelli, Harvey Whiten..."

On freshman playing... "We're going to have some freshmen - more freshmen, for sure, than any year I've been here - who are going to contend. I'm talking about the secondary, but maybe in every position on our team."

On Derek Anderson... "Derek, since I've known him two years now, has always been a very hard worker, very conscientious. I've seen him prepare really hard, but he's maturing all the time - like all of our kids do - but as far as the shape he's in, I'm sure it's the best shape of his life. The exposure that he's had dealing with the media and dealing with other people around the country - he was our representative at the Pac-10 media day, he worked at the Payton Manning Passing Academy down in Louisiana as a counselor, he went to the Elite 11 camp - so he's got some exposure. I think the expansion of his world is growing, and that's really good for him. And he's worked extremely hard. Derek has a lot of ability. I'm excited about the year for him, but I'm concerned about finding the right pieces around him that can produce and make plays for him. I believe he grew a lot through the year last year and kind of topped it off with one of his very best games here in the bowl game. He had a very solid spring as we worked through different personnel things around him, and I think he's excited and ready to go for this season."

On played at LSU then at Boise State six days later... "We're looking at a real tough turnaround there, and that's why the emphasis for our team has to be the moment. We can't go in thinking too much about how hard it's going to be to come back and then go to Boise on Thursday and play there Friday night. We'll have to approach that when it gets there. We have to take each day right now and get the most out of it to get ready for our season, then later on focus in on that first game and then go on from there. But that is out there, and as coaches we have to make a plan for that and how we're going to handle a short week coming off a long trip."

Finding balance in the offense... "I'm not worried if Derek throws for 4,000 yards again - that was a unique thing, he was the second guy in the history of this league to do that and that's not going to happen all the time. And that's not what we're going to be about; we're going to be about finding that mix, the things that we do well and the efficiency we can play with, and getting people around him making plays. That's what we have to do so that we become a very good third-down team, so we don't turn the ball over, and so we're efficient in the red zone. Those kind of statistics are going to be more important than the yards we put up."

"We need balance. We need the running back to contribute, we need the tight end to contribute. Mike Hass is going to contribute; he's a good player and a tough guy and knows how to play and I think he'll do a good job, but we need to find people around him who will be that reliable and we need balance badly if we want to be good."

Joe Newton...  "Joe Newton has a ton of ability - I'm excited about Joe. If we had to replace Tim Euhus, I'd pick Joe Newton as the guy I'd like to start with, so I feel good about that. But the great thing about sports is, you have to prove it on the field, so we have to go out and make some things happen and get him involved and make him a consistent playmaker for us to be good."

The kickers... We've got great competition at the kicker position; I think we're going to come out of that with a good kicker. We have recruited a punter I have a lot of confidence in, that we did a lot of work on and we're very, very excited to have him; now it's his job to come through and do a good job and I think he's very capable of it - Sam Paulescu."

Special teams... "Then the next part of the job is surrounding those people, the specialists in our program - the returners, the kicker, the punter - with good special teams. Good coverage, the opportunity to have good returns - solid, sound play. I think there's no question that some of our production offensively and defensively was set back by some special teams plays in different ballgames. I think special teams can set the tone for a game, and I think that did not help us a year ago. Major, major emphasis, a big deal for us to make an improvement in our team. If we want to be improved, then we've got to improve on special teams."

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