Beavs look to tackle the big mystery

IT IS THE biggest mystery surrounding Oregon State the past four years. Why do the Beavers take so long to get cranked up? All told the last four years, OSU has lost three-of-five to open the season on three occasions, and went 3-2 last year. Sure, the Beavs have gone a tear the remainder of those campaigns, but those slow starts remain maddening. Does Mike Riley have some changes in mind?

It sure sounds like it.

"We've talked about it a ton. We've changed up some things going into camp that we hope will get us better, earlier," Mike Riley told the Tucson Citizen earlier this month.

Riley, unfortunately, didn't expand on what some of those changes are but one possible remedy that comes to mind -- a more physical fall camp.

THERE IS FULL contact and scrimmaging, to be sure, found in Corvallis during the month of August.

But Oregon State typically hasn't done a ton of it under Riley, choosing instead to get players acclimated and physically ready to go while decreasing the risk of injury.

This might be the year to change that, and it's based on the offseason results. More on that in a moment..

OR IT COULD be that Riley is going to practice more in the mornings. Maybe they'll be longer, or shorter. Maybe he'll have the Beavs go heavier on cardio, or strength work -- not wholesale philosophy changes but some tweaking here and there.

And some of the changes have already been implemented -- an increase in good old fashioned hard work this offseason.

Bryan Miller
, the Beavs' strength coach, told the Oregonian's Paul Buker the players' work has been off the charts in terms of concentrating on strength and conditioning before spring practice and after spring practice.

OREGON STATE HAD fewer injuries this spring.

That's the biggest argument for a more physical brand of play when OSU opens their fall camp on Aug. 9 -- the players would appear to be better able to withstand more scrimmaging and contact work without significant injury -- while the benefits that come along with more pad crackin' are realized.

Whatever Riley's changes this fall camp, be they large or small, they'll be needed -- what with a record of 9-11 to open the season the last four years, and arguably the toughest non-conference schedule around facing the Beavs in 2010.

And wouldn't it be something -- after TCU, Louisville and Boise State, plus ASU and Arizona -- if Riley was shown to have found the right answers to solving the biggest mystery surrounding OSU football these past four years.

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