Coach's Corner

There has been enough discussion, debate, and arguments about the Beavers loss to LSU last Saturday to fill volumes and volumes of books. The Beavers faced a short week of practice this week but worked out on Monday, a day normally the players have off. Mike Riley liked what he saw and says the Beavers are ready to go against Boise State.

"I still think despite the loss, which was hard, that there's also a little bit of confidence and there was a lot of good football in the game," said Riley who is 16-20 as head coach at Oregon State. "There were guys who played a lot of good football, and there were a lot of things we were anxious to see.

"So I think there are some things coming out of that game that - coupled with the fact that this group is pretty focused, practices well, works hard - all that part of it, put together, I think we're on our path to the next ballgame and looking forward to it."

The Beavers face one of the most winningest programs in the nation. The past three seasons the Broncos have lost just 6 games en route to a 33-6 record. The players are used to winning and feel comfortable at home playing on the blue turf, where they have won their last 33 of 34 games.

"We're playing a very good football team; a team that's used to winning, expects to win, has won a ton of games over the course of the last five or six years," Riley said. "These guys are good, and they're at home. I feel like we're going into a hornet's nest. It'll be another tough night."

The Broncos are lead by Jared Zabransky, another athletic quarterback in the same mold as Ryan Dinwiddie. Zabransky scored three touchdowns on the ground against Idaho while throwing for over 200 yards.

"He's an athletic guy, and that always causes a defense more problems. And you know what? He's right in the thick of that offense and looks like he functions very well in it. And they have a lot of variety." Riley said. "That's where their consistent explosiveness is evident. You see it in their program, and they carried it right on into the first game this year."

Boise State uses a lot of movement and shifting in their offensive sets to keep the defense guessing. Once again the Beaver defense will have to bring their "A" game.

On the defensive side of the ball the Beavers face a well-prepared, well-coached group of players that play well as a unit. Riley thought they were one of the most sound defenses the Beavers played against last year and this year he thinks they will be solid again.

"They give you a variety of a lot of different looks and blitzes, so they're difficult to play against," Riley said. "Anytime you have a team that's won that many games, their offense gets a lot of notoriety because they are explosive and score a lot of points, but their defense has been a consistent factor, too, and I think they do a great job of coaching that defense."

Place-kicker Alexis Serna has been on the tongues of college football fans around the country. On Tuesday he met with the media and seems to be taking the attention in stride. His family, friends, and teammates have been supportive of Serna during the past few days. Former Beaver place-kicker Kirk Yliniemi, who is now with the San Francisco 49ers, showed up on campus Monday and talked with him about kicking.

"He said one of the big sayings in the 49ers camp was, `Kickers have to have short-term memory', so that was kind of good. I try to forget about it and put it in the past," Serna said.

Riley likes how Serna has responded to the media attention and to the fact that the place-kicking job is up for grabs again.

"I thought he was great. I was really impressed, actually," Riley said. "He was ready to talk about it, he was forthcoming, he handled everything real well. From the minute I met him a year ago when he walked on here, when he went out and went to work, I thought, `This kid's got some stuff to him.'"

Tight end Joe Newton lived up to expectations against LSU catching a team high seven passes for 71 yards and one touchdown. Riley liked what he saw and is eager to see more.

"I was impressed with him in the ballgame, how he played and making some tough catches," Riley said. "He played hard in the ballgame. I think he's got a lot of stuff to him. We thought going in that he'd be a guy we'd have to look to in our offense."

Riley also liked what he saw from the Beaver offensive line and running backs. Wright stepped up in his first start showing good physical and mental toughness while Cole made some nice strong plays. The offensive line kept a strong defense at bay while building a nice foundation for the players to build from.

"From here on out, it's how they progress and they were pretty darn tough. LSU's defense is not easy, either physically or mentally," said Riley who is 1-0 against Boise State. "I thought our offensive line kept their poise and did a lot of good things. I'm excited to build on that group. That was probably my biggest worry going into the game, that match-up itself, so if we can build from that we'll be okay."

The Beavers will look to a more balanced offense on Friday against Boise State. The running game must get on track to make the Broncos respect the run which will open up the passing game.

Some fans have expressed concern that the Beavers may overlook the Broncos, but Riley feels strongly that his team will be prepared.

"We really want to win, there's no doubt about that," Riley said. "I think our guys have a very good understanding of how good Boise State is.

"Our motto from the beginning of the year has been, absolutely, that with our schedule we have to live in the moment and can't dwell on the past or what happened, and we can't look down the road because whoever we're playing is going to be pretty darn good. I'm not really worried about being overconfident."

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