After hammering away at each other for almost an entire month the players are ready to face a team that does not consist of orange and black. Usually Riley would like a week or two more to prepare but due to numerous injuries coupled with intense practices he and his staff are ready as well to see where their team is at.
"Well I think we had some setbacks earlier and had to refocus ourselves of what we really wanted to do," Riley said. "I think everyone is getting anxious to play a football game. I know our players who have been playing against each other for a while, they’re anxious to play somebody else. And I know as a coaching staff, we’re anxious to see this team in action, see exactly where we are."
Riley will receive the chance to evaluate his team on Saturday, Sept. 3 as Oregon State opens up the 2005 season with Portland State at home. With the opening of the new stadium, the pre game ceremonies and the fact that Portland State is a Division I-AA opponent it may be easy for OSU to overlook the Vikings. But Riley expects his team to focus and prepare the same no matter if it is Portland State or USC.
"Preparation is huge for these ball games, we only get to play one a week, and we cannot waste a week," Riley said. "I believe Portland State will be very well prepared. They will also be starting to find their identity for their team this year, so it’s a very big opener and a very big game for both teams."
One of the most watched matchups in Saturday's contest will be Oregon State's run defense versus Portland State's rushing attack. The Viking rushing attack features pre season All-American honorees, center Antonio Narcisse and fullback Allen Kennett, in addition to senior running back Joe Rubin. The Beavers must also shut down quarterback Sawyer Smith and the speedy Nic Costa.
"I think they bring some guys like that to this ball game that we have to be very aware of, and of course big plays always play a major role in every ball game," said Riley who is 9-0 in non-conference home games. "and one of our main jobs is to eliminate big plays against our defense. Those are two guys that will be big factors in that."
Matt Moore will also be a major factor as he has been with the program for almost a year. Moore has grown within the system and Riley expects him to continue to grow within the system throughout the season.
"I think quarterback wise we are as ready as we can be at this point," Riley said. "Matt has been with us for a winter term, a spring term, spring practice, stayed here during the summer, been all through camp. There is nothing, however, like playing a game with the team."
It will be a running back by committee for the first game as Yvenson Bernard gets the starting nod with Nate Wright and possibly Patrick Fuller seeing action. Jimtavis Walker will sit out the season opener after a run in with the law last season.
"I feel very good about our tailback situation," said Riley who is in his fifth year at OSU. "I think that Yvenson Bernard is a very good all-around football player. He gives us a lot of different options as a running back."
Due to injuries to tight ends Joe Newton and Jason Vandiver in addition to players leaving the program, the Beavers are down to just one healthy tight end in Dan Haines. As a result, offensive lineman Andy Levitre has been working out as a H-back and Bernard has been working out as a fullback and tailback. The offense has changed significantly since the beginning of August as more two back and four receiver sets have been implemented.
"We have made adjustments to play with three receivers and two backs. We can play with four wide receivers, and we’ve practiced that," Riley said. "I don’t really like either one of those as our base, but that is something, if need be, we can go in and play with."
Riley calls PSU a "very sound football team" and expects a good fight from them. How will Riley evaluate if the team has had a good fall camp?
"If we stay focused during this week, and if we do that and really get peaked for this ball game," Riley said. "then I would say we had a very good camp."
Riley named the cornerbacks as the unit that made the biggest strides during fall camp. "There has been a lot of tough, competitive play by our cornerbacks. I think they’ve come through as far as camp is concerned, and now they have to translate that to the season."
Tight end Jason Vandiver may be healthy for the home opener, but it will be a game time decision.
It still has not been decided if Patrick Fuller will redshirt or not. He may see time at running back or on special teams. Other freshman that are expected to play are safety Al Afalava, linebacker Bryant Cornell and defensive end Victor Butler.
Portland State is on a four game winning streak. Oregon State is on a three game winning streak.
Oregon State has won three consecutive home openers.
PSU has played only one other Pac-10 team, the Oregon Ducks.
The Vikings have defeated just one Division I opponent (Hawaii in 2000) in 10 tries.
Oregon State has 18 consecutive non-conference home game victories. The last loss at home to a non-conference opponent was on Sept. 7, 1996 to Division 1-AA Montana, 35-14.