OSU NOTES: Beavers get Civil War history lesson
- Kerry Eggers
- Portland Tribune - Sports
CORVALLIS - From Oregon State's media availability Tuesday at Valley Football Center in anticipation of Saturday's 12:30 p.m. Autzen Stadium matchup between the Beavers (3-8 overall, 3-5 in Pac-12 action) and ninth-ranked Oregon (9-2, 7-1):
• Coach Mike Riley began a three-day 'history lesson' of the Civil War rivalry Tuesday with a five-minute video presentation to his players during a team meeting.
Video coordinators Mike Ortiz and Matt Riley collected material for the coach, including ex-UO Hall-of-Famer Dan Fouts' narration from a pre-Civil War game telecast a few years ago and an interview with OSU Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker that ran before another broadcast.
'I want the young guys to get a sense of what the rivalry is about,' said Riley, who has never before put together a Civil War video package in his 11 years as coach. 'They won't really get it until they get onto the field Saturday, but it's important to have a little history.'
Riley said he didn't know exactly the subjects of the Wednesday and Thursday videos, but one source said he believes they would be about the 1998 and 2007 Civil War contests. Each game was won by Oregon State in double overtime.
• Riley has coached at many outstanding venues during his 36-year college and pro career, and he puts B.C. Place in Vancouver, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and the Superdome in New Orleans atop the list.
'Autzen is one of the great environments,' Riley said. 'Reser Stadium is, too. I've heard that from a lot of opponents. And in the day, Husky Stadium was like that, too. I'm sure LSU (Tiger Stadium) would be included, but it's not as loud as Autzen, for whatever reason - configuration or whatever.'
• Riley was asked how he can maintain a cheery disposition in light of Oregon State's record this season.
'I like to look at the bright side,' he said. 'I really enjoy this, and I'm also pretty realistic about coaching for 36 years. It's not always going to be fun and games. It is for me, though, as long as I have a coaching staff and (players) who work this hard.
'I like going to practice. I like what we get to do with kids. I want to win the championships. I want to win all our games. We prove that through our effort. Our staff works hard. I don't just enjoy Saturday afternoon, I enjoy all the parts (of coaching). That's what keeps me going.'
• In 2008 and '09, Oregon State entered the Civil War with a Rose Bowl berth on the line.
'It wasn't that long ago, though it doesn't feel like that necessarily when you've won three games,' Riley said. 'The fact of the matter is, we want to beat (the Ducks). We want to get where they're at right now.
'We're going to continue to work at that. We're not going to get there this year, but this is a great opportunity to get things started. We want to get back to where we're playing the game for the Rose Bowl.'
• Oregon coach Chip Kelly's motto is 'Win the Day,' that every game is the Super Bowl. In Kelly's world, the Ducks prepare for the Oregon State game like any other on the schedule. Riley said it's a matter of semantics.
'That's our mantra, too,' the OSU coach said. 'I always say we want to get ready in a bubble. That's exactly the right thing to do.
'You can't coach a team and all of a sudden say, by the way, this is a big game. They're all big. Sacramento State was a big game. We only get one game a week. He is right on, and that's exactly our approach. That's the way it should be handled.'
• On the other hand, Riley said, 'we will never shy away from this being a super big game for Oregon State and for Oregon.'
That makes it doubly important to the 14 Oregon State seniors who will be making their final college football appearance.
'This will probably be the game I remember the rest of my life,' linebacker Cameron Collins said. 'Any time you're dealing with an in-state rivalry, you have to hear about it pretty much every day. It's a big game. Being my last game, it's especially important.'
Collins is not getting caught up in the disparity between the teams' records this season.
'We just want to win the game,' he said. 'It's called the Civil War for a reason. I'm from California, but coming up here, you get involved with it. There's a division in the state between Oregon and Oregon State fans. It's a huge rivalry. We want to do well. We haven't had the season we wanted, but every game is another opportunity to right your wrongs.'
Collins is 0-3 against the Ducks.
'I've thought about that,' he said. 'I've never beaten Oregon. That's something I want to accomplish.
'We're 3-8 right now. I want to get a win, not just for myself, but for the program. I love this program. Hopefully we can get the win and end things on the right note.'
• Quarterback Sean Mannion already has a feel for the rivalry from Oregon State's upperclassmen.
'It's something you learn from the veterans, the history of the game,' the redshirt freshman said. 'They've played the Ducks so many times, and it's always a pretty good game. You kind of learn on the fly. You see how much it means to everyone.'
Could an upset victory, following last week's thumping of Washington, salvage the season for the Beavers?
'I think so,' Mannion said. 'You always want to finish strong, especially with a win against your rival.'
Asked the same question, Riley had a different response.
'That's for other people to decide,' the OSU coach said. 'We just want to win the game.
'We know exactly where we are, what we have and haven't done with the team this year. We'll summarize the season when it's all said and done. It's just an opportunity to win a game, but it would be a lifetime memory for all of us in this program.'
• Junior cornerback Jordan Poyer is among those educating his younger teammates on the importance of the Civil War - especially this season.
'We're not going to a bowl game,' Poyer said. 'This is our bowl game. This is our Super Bowl.'
• Scott Crichton has considerable respect for Oregon's offense, but doesn't sound intimidated by the prospects of Saturday's challenge.
'They have a great run game,' the freshman D-end said. 'They have LaMichael (James), good receivers and their quarterback (Darron Thomas), and that freshman (De'Anthony) Thomas with a lot of speed. Their offensive linemen are in shape. They stand in there when (the skill players) are running all over the place.
'But I know we can win this game. It would bring momentum to us and everyone who backs us. ... This game is going to be different from what everyone says.'
NOTES - Middle linebacker Feti Unga said his knee/calf strain 'is 85 to 90 percent' healthy and that he should be able to go the route Saturday. 'It's getting a lot better,' said Unga, who returned to action against Washington after missing the previous four games. 'It's still a little sore, but I'll be ready.' ... James Rodgers was optimistic, too, despite being in a walking boot Tuesday to protect an ankle sprained against the Huskies. 'It's feeling a lot better than it did on Saturday,' the senior flanker said. 'I'm planning on playing. I can walk on it. They just want me to wear the boot to protect it.' ... Reserve middle linebacker Rueben Robinson, who missed the Washington game after suffering a concussion against California, must pass protocol before being allowed to play against the Ducks, Riley said. ... The OSU coach said he intends to use all three running backs - sophomore Jovan Stevenson and true freshmen Terron Ward and Malcolm Agnew - on Saturday. 'How we'll do that will be defined during the week,' Riley said.