Mike Riley gave his players plenty of time to visit with family and friends during the week long layoff, but it was back to work Monday. Despite the layoff, it was business as usual for the men in black as they got back into the swing of things.
"As far as practice, yesterday I was very impressed with the work," Riley said. "The time we spent, and just getting back into it. I didn't feel like we really spent a lot of time doing that. It seemed like business as usual, which was good, and we practiced hard."
Although Riley was pleased with his team's focus, he realizes the true test will be on Saturday night against the 3-3 Huskies. Many of our purple friends up north are calling for head coach Keith Gilerbertson's head after Washington's 28-17 loss at home against Nevada last weekend.
When the Husky two game losing streak is coupled with the Beavers four game winning streak, a national ranking, and a Heisman candidate, Saturday's game looks like it is going to be a blowout. The Las Vegas odds makers agree as they have the Black Bandits favored by 10.
With the added publicity and distractions it is easy for Beaver players, boosters, and fans to overlook a tough Washington team.
"This game coming up has nothing to do with the past; it's all about this one ball game," Riley said. "We know they have to have it (the game) and we know they are very capable. Our concern is what they do and how they do it, and us preparing for it."
"You're talking about a multi-faceted game, and when they put it together they can be outstanding," Riley said. "They were picked to be one of the best teams not just in the conference, but the nation. So we just can't fall into any traps; this will be a tough football game and their backs are against the wall."
"They're a pretty multiple offensive football team, and they haven't changed too much. An I-back or single-back running team, they'll do both. Then they spread the ball around, have bootleg passes, play-action passes...pretty versatile, all-around offensive football team
A good foundation for Washington to build on is their defensive line, which Riley hails as the most physical line OSU has seen the year. "They're very active up front. It's probably the best defensive front, physically, that we've seen. And they have a number of different ways to pressure you, so it's going to be a major mental game for us."
This year has been full of surprises as every week another undefeated team in dethroned. If the Beavers look past the Washington game, they could get burned. "You can look at the scoreboard every Saturday night and there will be many different surprises from around the nation," Riley said. "It just shows you that you have to go play the game, you have to play your best, and if you're not focusing on that Saturday, then you're liable to have a bad Saturday night."
But the Beavers have an excellent home field advantage at Reser winning their last 26 of 29 in the friendly confines. An orange filled atmosphere that Riley loves. "I think the atmosphere here is great, and it is hard for opponents to play here. On Saturday night we'll have a great atmosphere, and they (the fans) definitely contribute to helping the Beavers win."
Reser will most certainly be rocking Saturday night as the Beavers take on the Huskies on national television at 7:00 PM.
- Riley and and six of his coaches spent the majority of the bye-week traveling
to high schools along the west coast looking at high school prospects. Riley
attended five games.
- Strong safety Lawrence Turner twisted his knee in practice during the week
and did not practice on Monday, but is expected to start Saturday.
- Running back Steven Jackson has is wisdom teeth pulled this week and will
be ready for Saturday.
- Riley weighs in on the Heisman campaign debate: "What we have to do is take care of Saturday night. There's enough stuff there that we just have to take care of our thing. If we do, then obviously Steven is doing well, and then we'll see what happens. But I don't think there's anything we need to do or need to speculate, and I have a sense that's the truth."