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Q&A with Mike Riley: What happened to OSU?

Beavers coach talks about preparation, personnel, the Civil War and the postseason


by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Oregon State coach Mike Riley, watching the second half unfold during Saturday night's home loss to Washington, tackles numerous questions the day after the Beavers' loss and looking ahead to Friday's Civil War game at Oregon.A Sunday question-and-answer session with coach Mike Riley after Oregon State's 69-27 loss to Washington Saturday night:

• What happened?

"That is a great question. The easy part to see is that we started badly, and never responded to anything offensively. When you can't control the running game … they just controlled the ballgame."

• Do you think you underrated or overlooked the Huskies?

"We talked about that after the game and this morning as a (coaching) staff. I can't imagine that. Our practice week and lead-up to the game was good. I don't think there was any thinking like that whatsoever. We had a good work week and felt like were well-prepared. We'd played a similar styles of offense against several teams, including Arizona State the week before, and defended them pretty well. (Against Washington) We were terrible."

• It appeared the Huskies were emotionally ready and the Beavers weren't. True?

"As I look at it on (video), it certainly looks like that. I hate to accuse our (players) of that. Maybe we got stunned and were just paralyzed. I really think our guys like to play. I've enjoyed this team that way -- practice, playing the games. It's hard for me to say we played a game without emotion, but I can understand people questioning that."

• How did the lines get beaten so badly on both sides of the ball?

"It surprised all of us. We'd faced a similar style of opponent the week before and done pretty well. We couldn't stop the run, and we couldn't handle their pressure defensively."

• What did you think of Sean Mannion's play?

"Three interceptions is too many. On one, he made a bad play worse when he released as he was getting tackled. Usually bad things happen when you do that. He tried to hang in there, and we didn't do a great job for him up front. We got disrupted."

• Do you tell Mannion not to run? There have been occasions, including the UW game, where a scramble could yield a first down and keep opposing defenses honest.

"There's no deal about not running. When the time is right, he has the freedom to do that -- and it makes a big difference if you can. He's not gifted in that way as far as making a big play, and we have to protect him and let him throw the ball. But when there is room to run for a first down, I'd like him to get some yardage and then go down."

• Did you consider going to Cody Vaz earlier?

"I thought about it a little bit, but you also have to look at the protection. (Mannion) has brought us a long way, thrown for a lot of yards and gotten us some wins. He's our guy." 

• Tight end Connor Hamlett, who had nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown against ASU, was blanked by the Huskies.

"I hate that. We had a pretty good plan to get him the ball, but (the Huskies) covered him pretty aggressively. We had some shots to him that either went elsewhere or (Mannion) didn't get the ball out. That was very disappointing."

• Chris Brown fumbled, but he also had seven carries for 73 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Does he merit more time at tailback?

"We were impressed, too. He has some ability, for sure. I don't know we're going to open up an opportunity now, but we will in the future. I like him."

• How do you regroup for Friday's Civil War game at Oregon?

"I have a lot of respect for our players. I would be shocked if we didn't have good work this week and get ready to play."

• Do you worry about squad morale? 

"I worry about it, but I have a lot of faith in the leadership on this team. My guess is they'll be really hurt, but they'll work hard."

• Is it possible you won't go to a bowl game if you lose to Oregon?

"I don't know how that works for sure. There are (nine) bowl-eligible teams in our league. There are bowls to go to outside our (conference bowl alignments). We want to be (in a bowl). It's good for the team, it's good for the program, and we get a lot done during the time leading up to the game."

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Twitter: @kerry eggers