Coach's Corner - 'We met the enemy'

Forget about the game against Stanford. Forget about the road game versus a ranked Oregon team. Forget about winning out. And forget about last weekend's game. It is all about the Oregon State Beavers and taking care of the ball one week at a time.

Once again the Beavers will face a Pac-10 opponent that has yet to pick up a conference victory. Washington has just one win and is riding a five game losing streak. Just like last week Beaver head coach Mike Riley says his team needs to ignore the numbers in the win/loss columns and focus on playing a good football game.

"We've got to disregard the record and go play," said Riley who is 27-28 at Oregon State. "This game will obviously be also about ourselves. It will be about just playing better football.

"The story line from last week was short and sweet - too many big plays and too many turnovers. So it's kind of the old story, we met the enemy and he was us, so we've got to get better."

If the Beavers hope to go bowling for the fourth straight season a couple of departments that need improvement are turnovers and preventing the big play. Oregon State is next to last in the country in turnover margin and the defense broke down for several plays that went for over 30 yards resulting in Arizona's victory.

The good news for the OSU offense is that they are facing a defense that gives up an average of thirty points a game and almost three hundred yards through the air. Unfortunately, the Husky offense is saying the same thing about the Beaver defense.

With a stormy outlook for Saturday neither team may pass the ball much and instead rely on their running games. The Beavers' attack features the nation's ninth leading rusher in Yvenson Bernard and despite the ground game chewing up the yards while the passing game racks up turnovers, Riley doesn't want Matt Moore to "play scared."

"I don't want the quarterback playing scared here, and I told him that right away," Riley said. "He can't go back there thinking about interceptions, he's got to go back there and throw the ball.

"The quarterback's got to have a little bit of that Brett Favre in him, too. He can't be worried playing that position."

Another couple of players that Riley told not to play scared is the secondary, specifically cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes. At times both have played well, at other times they have struggled resulting in blown coverages and big plays for the opposition.

"They made a lot of good plays in the ball game, and got beat a couple of times, too. That position has to be a really tough minded deal," Riley said. "they've got to go right back out there and saddle up, not be scared, be aggressive and at the same time get better."
As the quarterback controversy rages on the message boards, in reality, there is no controversy. Moore is the Beavers' number one quarterback and Riley fully expects his player to bounce back from his worst performance under center.

"I feel he is the most prepared, and we've made a decision, this is a long ago decision, that Matt is our starter," Riley said. "Matt had some very tough, bad plays in the last ball game. I'm not going to over-dramaticize that, that's what it was.

"My anticipation for this game is that he's going to play well in this game against the Huskies in Seattle."

Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. It will be televised live over FoxSports Northwest.


Additional notes:

  • Why is Riley hesitant about pulling the starting quarterback?
    Riley - "I've always been fairly slow for that because I've known what's gone into the preparation, and the guy that gets the most turns in practice is the starter."

  • In preparation for the murky weather the Beavers will practice outside at least once this week. Good thing Reser has field turf and not grass.
    Riley - "I think that's good, it's one of the main reasons I wanted field turf for our stadium, because I wanted to be able to not always have to go indoors to get good footing."

  • The Beavers prepare five to six screen and shovel passes a week for about 10 minutes a day.
    Riley - "we practice it all the time, I called it twice in the ball game, and then we ran three other screens in the ball game. That's a pretty good number. If we can get five or six plays like that in a game, that's probably good."

  • Riley doesn't mind so much if the corners get outphysicaled, but it does bother him if they blow an assignment.
    Riley - "What disappoints me is that we got beat on a couple of deals that we didn't cover. We got fooled. There's a difference between getting beat physically one-on-one and blowing an assignment. We as players, and we as coaches cannot accept blown assignments. That happened a couple of times in the game; we gave up too many big plays defensively."

  • Has he talked to his team about a bowl game?
    Riley - "I have noted that with our team. I don't make a big deal of it right now. I pointed out one of the factors of being in a bowl game is winning the next games. We don't need to focus on that right now; we need to focus on Washington. Then it becomes more real."

  • What about Ryan Gunderson?
    Riley - "I think he's confident, and he's playing a vital role on our team. He is our No. 2 quarterback, and will always be ready to go when called upon."

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