Coach's Corner: 'It feels like starting over'

By the time the Oregon State football team kicks off against the University of Idaho Saturday evening two full weeks will have passed without a Beaver football game. The Sept. 23 contest begins 11 straight weeks of Beaver football, three consecutive home games and a chance for an OSU football player to make NCAA history.

With 15 days in between games the team had a little bit of rest before hitting the Tommy Prothro practice fields. The practices are focused as the coaches and players worked on the technical aspects of the game. This meant of a lot of time in the film room, in meetings and working on the details on the field.

“There was a lot to go over,” head coach Mike Riley said. “We looked at some technical things that we did not do well against Boise State. The day-to-day basics of strategic football - defending certain plays, protecting, and running routes.”

With the team at almost 100-percent, both physcially and mentally, and eleven consecutive games on tap the players and coaches are looking at this week’s game as the start of the 2006 season – part II.

“It feels a little like starting over,” Riley said. “and I think that part of it has been good. It’s been a good mental break for our players as well as physical.”

Left guard Jeremy Perry, who sat out drills during the bye week due to left knee surgery, is expected to play while cornerback Brandon Hughes, who has been practicing all week after missing the first two games with a knee injury, will be back as well.

Neither is expected to start as Andy Levitre will take Perry’s place at left guard while Hughes will be backing up Coye Francies.

Many fans want Riley to play redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Canfield, but the 53-year old coach is staying with senior Matt Moore. Riley spent a lot of time with Moore this week going over film. He wants the California-native to spread the ball around as he locked onto Joe Newton and Sammie Stroughter against Boise State.

“Matt is our man,” Riley said. “But I’m excited about (Canfield’s) development, and I’m pleased with the opportunity he’s gotten in the games. He’s done a nice job. That’s a good thing for the program and I’m excited about his development.”

The last time the Beavers and Vandals met was in 1995 when Oregon State pulled off an ugly 14-7 victory under Jerry Pettibone. Idaho has not defeated OSU since 1984 when Dennis Erickson’s team defeated the Joe Avezzano led Beavers 41-22 in Moscow. OSU leads the series 35-7 while winning the last 16 of 17 match-ups.

The Idaho football team is littered with connections to Oregon State and the state of Oregon. Five players played their high school ball in Oregon while several members of the coaching staff taught with Dennis Erickson or played for, Jonathan Smith, him when he was in Corvallis.

“Dennis did a tremendous job here. I think he’s responsible for a lot of the resurgence of Oregon State.” Riley said. “Jonathan’s doing a good job there. He’s really into coaching and football and the recruiting.”

The Vandals currently sit at 1-2 after picking up their first win of the season against Idaho State last weekend. UI played Michigan State tough on the road to open up the season before getting blown out by Washington State in Seattle.

“The Michigan State game was impressive – we watched the film from that game and they did a great job,” Riley said. “they had an opportunity to win. They put together a couple of very good drives.

“Washington State jumped on them and got some big plays and that kind of put them out of it; besides that, they’ve played some very good football.”

Defensively the Vandals are led by linebacker and Oregon native David Vobora who has 40 tackles in three games. His 13.3 average per game puts him at third in the nation and his 7.67 solo stops per game ties him for ninth in the country.

Offensively the UI has a balanced attack averaging 119 yards on the ground and 213 through the air. They have excelled on fourth down conversions converting 4 of 5, but, much like the Beavers, have struggled on third down conversions making just 16 of 43 (37%).

Although there is still concern with the punting game, the Beavers clearly have the advantage in the return game where junior Sammie Stroughter can tie an NCAA record.

Stroughter has returned two punts for touchdowns already and is currently leading the nation in punt return yards per attempt at 31.4. If he returns a punt for six against the Vandals he will tie an NCAA Division I record for consecutive punt returns for a touchdown.

“Sammie has been one of our hardest workers through the time he’s been here,” Riley said. “He’s a product of both his ability and his diligence; he’s done a good job, and he’ll continue to do that because of who he is and the talent he has to go with it.”

Watch Sammie attempt to rewrite the NCAA record books at 7 p.m. on FoxSports NW or see it live at Reser Stadium as tickets are still available at or by calling 1-800-GO-BEAVS.


Dan Norz can be reached at

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