OSU takes time to regroup, diagnose
With a bye week before Idaho, Beavers focus on getting their mojo back
CORVALLIS -Beaver Football Central hasn't been a really happy place the past week.
Mike Riley never lets his dobber get too down, but there have been fewer smiles and more looks of determination as Oregon State tries to put its lopsided Sept. 7 loss at Boise State in the rear-view mirror.
A bye weekend - the Beavers' next game is at home Sept. 23 against Idaho - probably could have come at a better time.
'They say you're as good as your last game,' says junior receiver Sammie Stroughter, who caught six passes against Boise State and has returned a punt for a touchdown in each of the first two games. 'Our last one wasn't very good. We can't wait to play Idaho so we can erase it.'
Riley is looking at the weekend off in another way.
'You can spin it either way you want to,' the OSU coach says. 'Since we have the bye now, I like it. I feel like I did after we got drubbed by Cal (49-7) in 2004. We can take a deep breath, come back and talk about some of the things that we need to improve on. Instead of working on a game, we can work on ourselves.'
After the loss to the Bears to fall to 1-4, the Beavers won six of their final seven games. Riley is hopeful the same kind of thing can happen this time. So are those around him.
'One game doesn't make a season,' offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh says. 'But I'll say this - we're a crummy offensive line right now, at least until the next game.'
Cavanaugh's veteran offensive line returned intact from last season and added tight end Joe Newton. On OSU's first and only scoring drive at Boise, the front six blew gaping holes for tailback Yvenson Bernard. After that, running room was hard to come by, and quarterback Matt Moore was sacked five times.
'After the one drive, Boise State changed a few things and we got away from what we were doing,' Cavanaugh says. 'My hat's off to (the Broncos). They did a great job. They punched us in the mouth, and we didn't really respond to it. And I did a bad job on the sidelines coaching.'
Cavanaugh says three offensive line starters - center Kyle DeVan, guard Roy Schuening and tackle Adam Koets - graded well in the Boise State game. Collectively, the group didn't get it done.
'We got a lot of praise for the O-line after last year, but this is a new year,' Cavanaugh says. 'It's time for us to get back to the blue-collar work ethic and get after it.'
The defense, meanwhile, gave up 42 points and 302 rushing yards. That's not what defensive coordinator Mark Banker had in mind. But with the loss of four of the Beavers' starting front seven of a year ago, the successors' inexperience showed.
'We're not telling our starters we don't expect a lot out of them - we do,' Banker says. 'But it's understandable what happened. (Middle linebacker) Alan Darlin didn't have a particularly good game, but it was his second game as a starter. Same thing with (tackle) Curtis Coker and (cornerback) Coye Francies. (Safety) Al Afalava has started five games. It's who we are right now.
'But I feel good about this group's potential. I feel better about this group as a whole than last year's. We had questions at a lot of positions, especially the secondary. They grew into excellent players, but who were (tackles) Sir Henry Anderson and Alvin Smith at the start of the season? Who was the outside linebacker after we lost Chaz Scott (to academic ineligibility)? We'll get there.'