Coaches Corner

Mike Riley and his team will put their 17-game home game non-conference win streak on the line this weekend when the 1-1 New Mexico Lobos roll into town. The team received extra time to heal physically and mentally from the opening road games and are poised to grab their first win of the season.

"I'm happy to be at home," said Riley, who is 8-0 at Reser versus non-conference opponents.  "That's probably as big a deal as anything for us right now, and it will be good to come home to play."  

The players were slightly down trodden when they reported to practice on Sunday.  But that is to be expected after a disappointing performance on the road.  As the week has progressed the players have become more vocal and more focused on New Mexico  

"If you can't learn from the past and then go on to the future, then we can be in trouble," Riley said.  "I think our kids are pretty tough-minded and tough kids, and have always worked hard. So I'm encouraged by all of that, and I think we'll be in a great frame of mind for the game."  

Another tough non-conference opponent, another tough, mobile quarterback.  The Lobos' Koke McKamey uses his legs and arm and is getting better every game.  He rushed for two touchdowns against Texas Tech last weekend while throwing for one.  McKamey is comfortable running the option and is dangerous in the open field.  

"He is mobile; they run some option with him, they run some great play-action stuff and throw the ball down the field - they had some big hits against Texas Tech, I was impressed with that," said Riley who is trying to avoid the Beavers first 0-3 start since 1996. 

"There's no question that the Boise State quarterback ran around on us, threw us off, and that's what happens when a quarterback starts scrambling - everybody tries to make up for it, and what we have to do is play very detailed football, especially playing against a little bit of option you have to be very disciplined as you try to defend that."  

McKamey will not be the only player the Beavers will have to keep tabs on.  Running back DonTrell Moore is one of the better backs in all of college football and coupled with McKamey they are one deadly combination on the ground.  

"This guy is good. Their offense is definitely taking a step up," Riley said.  "Their quarterback is a year older and playing better. They've got a lot of stuff going for them. They've got pretty good balance, and then he's an exciting back."  

The Beavers have an exciting combination of their own in Derek Anderson and Mike Hass.  Hass set a Pac-10 receiving record last week with 293 yards and is currently leading the nation in receiving with 171.5 yards per game.  

"I told somebody today I was kind of done being shocked or surprised by Mike. He emerged last year in fall camp and earned a scholarship during camp, then was very, very good during the season," Riley said.  "You've just got to like what he's all about. He plays the game faster than you would probably clock him in the 40, and he plays strong. He sheds tackles. He plays real hard and he's very tough. He'll go get the football and he's got good hands. He's just a good receiver."  

While Hass is excelling in the open field the Beavers will once again make an effort to run the ball more this Saturday.  Against LSU, the Beavers were forced to pass more due to weather conditions and against Boise State the Beavers were forced to throw due to the score.  Despite those two points, Riley has taken it upon himself to call more running plays.  But he does realize his team is going against one of the top run defenses in the country.  

"New Mexico is one of the better run defenses in the country. We see every front, every blitz that man and (New Mexico head coach) Rocky Long has invented. It's a hard defense to play against; if they get you going, it gets worse," Riley said.  "We're going to have to be very sound. We found a way to run the football last year in the bowl game and that was the key to that game, but that's easier said than done.

"We're going to have to be right on top of our game. Identification in their defense is a big deal - knowing where people are, who people are, and blocking accordingly. It's a big challenge that way, but it's really important that we run the football."  

Riley said the special teams took a step backward and "didn't play smart football" last week against Boise State.  The kickoff returners made several bad decisions and the coverage was less than spectacular.  The special teams are more athletic this year, but younger as well which accounts for many of the mistakes.  The growing pains hurt, but they are part of the process of getting better.  

"We're playing better athletes (for OSU) than we did a year ago, but younger athletes, too," Riley said.  "so I'm hoping they continue to learn to do a better job on coverage teams and the protection aspect of the punt team, all that part of it. We need to have a real good, solid week on special teams this week."  

The Lobos are looking to climb above .500 while the Beavers are just trying to put a number greater than zero in the win column.  The game will be tough, especially with the Lobos coming off a victory over Texas Tech, but the Beavers are at home and should receive a lot of energy from the 24th consecutive sellout crowd at Reser Stadium.  

Remember to get to the game early due to the expansion project in front of the main gates.    

Notes:

  • Chaz Scott is expected to play.
  • Joe Newton is expected to play.
  • Freshman Jeremy Perry moved to number two on the depth chart behind sophomore Josh Linehan due to Jason Fyda's departure.  Senior Brent Bridges will also see playing time.
  • John Dailey will handle PAT and field goals, Alexis Serna will handle kickoff duties.
  • Ryan Cole will definitely see more than one carry this week, each back should receive at least double digit carries.
  • There is a 70% chance of rain on Saturday.


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