“That's all history,” said Riley who is 1-2 versus ASU while at OSU. “We've been through this kind of stuff before with different streaks. Frankly, it's not a part of these kids' lives and it's not a part of this coaching staff's life. I don't think it's a factor."
The Sun Devils jumped into the Top 25 at #22 after dominating #12 Iowa last weekend defeating the Hawkeyes 44-7. Quarterback Andrew Walter threw for 428 yards and five touchdowns while completing 31 of 43 passes and throwing his first interception of the season.
“Andrew Walter is a very productive, big-armed quarterback who, right now, is playing with a lot of confidence,” Riley said. “He looks good. They're being very consistent and guys are making plays for him. It's all a bad combination for us."
One of Walter’s favorite receivers is Derek Hagan who has a team high 24 catches for 385 yards and five touchdowns. He hauled in eight passes for a team high 112 yards and two touchdowns against Iowa. Stopping the deadly combination of Walters and Hagan will be one of the Beavers primary goals. The OSU secondary will have their hands full this weekend.
“Don't give him a lot of time to get open, and don't give the quarterback a lot of time to find him. Timing is the key issue here,” Riley said. “If those guys have the time to maneuver and get open, they're good and they're making plays and he's making plays.
The matchups will change according to where he is, so that's not as big a factor as doing a good job in the coverage and also getting pressure on the quarterback and disrupting their routes."
Brandon Browner is not putting up the numbers like he did last year because teams are not throwing his way. Riley is concerned that Browner might start to feel he has to make plays, but all he has to do is be ready when the teams test him. It’s a hard job, but one that is only reserved for the best of the best.
“You can go long stretches of time without a ball coming; what you have to do is be ready when the ball does come. So there's a lot of patience but intensity,” said Riley of his star cornerback. “the combination of the two - you have to remain intense and focused, and you can't be surprised.
I think Brandon is doing a pretty good job with all that as far as just playing, but I've worried about that exact thing for a long time because I've seen it happen before."
On the offensive side of the ball the Beavers will look to continue a balanced attack against ASU. Riley was pleased with Marcel Love and Dwight Wrights performances. Both of them stepped up when they needed to and helped improve the offense significantly.
Derek Anderson did not throw an interception the entire game and perhaps made only one bad throw that could have been returned for a touchdown. Riley partially credits the balanced running attack to Anderson’s success through the air.
“Things go a lot better in a ballgame when you can run effectively, run some play-action passes,” Riley said. “But I thought overall he played a good game, made good decisions, made some clutch throws late in the game when we needed to get down there and kick that field goal and get it up to at least a two-score game."
Oregon State’s victory over New Mexico was huge for the morale of the team. The win gives the team confidence heading into a tough environment and helps them focus on the Pac-10 opener. Although Riley was overall pleased with Oregon State’s game, he would like to see marked improvement in the blocking department.
“We played a pretty good football game the other day, but we did not block as well as I thought we would or hoped we would,” Riley said. “ We usually had everybody accounted for on the blitz but we were on an edge where we didn't really block them and that was disruptive, like I didn't think our third-down conversion rate was great in the game.”
Another part of the game that will be heavily scrutinized once again will be the kicking game. Alexis Serna hit a 35 yard field goal to help seal the win while John Dailey missed two field goals, but made all of his extra point attempts.
Once more the starting kicker will be announced later this week. The most likely scenario will be for Serna to handle field goals and kickoffs while Dailey handles extra points.
ASU head coach Dirk Koetter on…
Derek Anderson and the advantage of a senior quarterback:
"It’s proven that having a veteran senior quarterback in the Pac-10 is important. I think Derek (Anderson) is extremely talented. I spent some time with him at Pac-10 media day. He’s got a great personality. He’s a fun guy to talk to. As I said earlier, he’s kind of had a streaky career. When he's on, I think he's as good as anybody. He’s had some days when he hasn't been on. I'm not on the inside and it could be that they're not protecting him well or because they're not catching the ball for him. I know he's very talented and I know he's capable of beating anybody."
The OSU defense:
"Coach Riley and his staff, I think are among the most creative in our league. In the off-season we study a lot of tape from different teams and we studied a lot of OSUs' defense. I like to see how Coach Riley attacks people. I think these teams from a schematic standpoint are very similar. Both are primarily one back teams, both 4-3, pressed at the corners teams. So I think from our defense we'll see a lot of the look that our offense sees. Coach Riley mentioned that he's looking for guys to step up. They have a good tight end who can catch the ball. He is a big target, a 6-6 guy. I think for our defense this will be the most multiple style offense they've faced. UTEP was a spread and Northwestern was a spread. This will be the most multiple that they've seen."
OSU man and zone coverage:
"They do play some zone, but they're like us, when they're playing zone they like to press the corners. OSU is one of those teams that doesn't give up easy balls. They don't let you stand up and throw that ten-yard out, which we love to throw and Andrew is really good at. They just don't let you do it. So you have to manufacture your plays, you have to move your guys around, put people in motion and try and create space for your receivers. Otherwise it's just a street fight. Those guys are battling each other at the line a scrimmage. That's the same thing we try to do. We get good looks like that at practice, but you just sort of change your style of play when you play a team like that."