Beaver preparations at full pitch

CORVALLIS -- Game preparations in Corvallis, and in Palo Alto, are at full pitch in advance of Thursday night's nationally televised season opener. For the Beaver Nation, this is the hard part -- the return of Beaver Football is finally close enough to reach out and touch after nearly eight months, but still there's a little more waiting to be done.

As was reported in the Oregonian on Saturday afternoon, Mike Riley had a seemingly interesting quote post-practice on Saturday, and Riley is the last guy you'll see out there making predictions or boasts, as was also noted in the Oregonian.

Indeed, it's just not in his nature.

And so Riley's comment, when you see it in print and thus without any tonal quality, could well be misconstrued. Here's what Riley said..

"We (college football coaches) all would like different situations," said Riley. "We would like not to have some of the injuries that we've had. We'd like to have Tavita (Thompson available), we've like to have Al Afalava for the (Stanford) game, but we don't. And we're going to win it despite that."

What Riley was referring to was the mindset -- from the players to the coaches and down through everyone involved in the OSU football program, that whatever adversity may come their way, they go into every game at Oregon State not hoping, but expecting, to overcome any obstacles and come out with a W.

In other words, no big deal. It was this correspondent who asked the question that produced Riley's answer and it was clear, standing three feet away from him, the Beavs' thought process and the particular point he was expressing.

And you can listed to Riley talk about it yourself in the BF.C audio clip of the day, which also includes Riley speaking to whether he's decided yet on who takes Afalava's place on Thursday, here:

SATURDAY'S PRACTICE TIME was moved to the morning, probably to avoid the heat sliding its way into the valley on Saturday afternoon. Players were back at the Truax outdoor facility after plying their wares at Reser the past two days and, as expected, were in shells (shoulder pads and helmets).

Shells meant limited contact on the day, with the Stanford game now getting bigger in the window. The Beavs have been decreasing the hard hits substantially ever since the second and final formal scrimmage was held.

Still, a lot of work was done by the Oregon State players and staff on Saturday.

INDEED, IT WAS a lengthy session, but not much can be said about the Beavs' practice.

A good number of offensive and defensive plays designed for Stanford were the order of the day, and it's a long understood tradition in the game of football that between those who cover practice, and those who coach, the inner workings are sacrosanct, so naturally this report will not go into detail.

There were skelly drills and scrimmaging, followed by a spirited and lengthy session with the scout teams.

The usual suspects had standout days on offense, QB Lyle Moevao and a wide array of the playmakers. The defense also rose to the occasion, with a number of solid defensive plays turned in across the board. But the next, or first, time you take in a Beavers' practice, make sure to set aside a little time to watch the hosses down in the trenches.

BECAUSE O-LINE coach Mike Cavanaugh is something to watch.

His energy is tireless, and he's continually in pursuit of perfection -- and that means so are the hosses up front.

The offensive line on Saturday drilled over and over on the nuances of the game plan.

BEAVER SPECIAL TEAMS continued to ride a building wave.

The units have been getting more work as gameday approaches, along with some decent results, and STs coach Dave Ungerer issued praise for a few different players on Saturday.

AMONG THE DEFENSIVE highlights, a pair of prescient pass breakups -- plus an interception-- by Lance Mitchell. The pick was a matter of Mitchell making the right read and jumping the route.

The play of the day turned in by the defense, however, was definitely Al Afalava's pass break up.

It was a smart play just to get a hand on it, and he nearly picked it off. The plays of the day on offense were two, but no details will be reported for the reason listed above.

  • The Beavs are off on Sunday. Riley may name who starts in Afalava's place after practice on Monday, though regardless of who's on the field for the first snap, there are perhaps a number of players who could see time there Thursday -- included in the candidates' group are Austin Hall, Suaesi Tuimaunei, Cameron Collins and Lance Mitchell.

  • In case you missed yesterday's audio clip with Riley, Brent McNeil, who injured either a toe or ankle or both recently, is a redshirt candidate according to Riley. McNeil, the first class of '08 commit to Riley last year out of El Camino, is a true sophomore, and was expected to compete for a starting spot in fall camp. Depending on the injury and how long it takes to heal, he might actually be better served if he were to redshirt, although the here and now is usually what the focus is on for a player. JC players generally don't like to redshirt, even more so than prep players don't, but if they do, many times they wind up having a better collegiate career when they spend that first learning year without simultaneously paying with a year of eligibility. And who knows, McNeil is still trying to gut his way through practice and it's a long season. Perfect foresight is granted to no one in this game, and McNeil may yet have an impact on the gridiron sooner rather than later.

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