Colorado Daily – Oregon State

September 27th

Buffs ready to end layoff, get back on the field

From … CU quarterback Connor Wood and the Buffs welcome the opportunity to simply be back on the field. “I feel like it’s camp again,” cornerbacks coach Andy LaRussa said earlier this week. “I don’t care who we play, but yeah, I’m anxious to get into the Pac-12 and see how we match up in one of the best conferences in the country. Just that challenge week in and week out is going to be good.”

Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, CU hasn’t played since Sept. 7. So the burning question in Buffsville and now in Beaverland is how will CU react to its 21-day break between games?

Calm down, say the Buffs, we’ll be just fine.

“It can only help us,” said senior safety Parker Orms of the long and unprecedented regular-season hiatus. “Starting camp and going right into the season, guys got banged up. Three weeks off – that’s got to help your body. I know mine’s feeling better. But I think it’s going to help us. We’ve practiced a lot on (Oregon State), two weeks so that will help us out.”

The Buffs are looking for their first 3-0 start since 2008, but since that season ended the CU football program has won only twice in 27 road trips. Ironically, both of those wins came under deposed coach Jon Embree, whose 2011 team won 17-14 at Utah and 2012 squad rallied for a 35-34 victory at Washington State. It was last season’s only win against 11 losses, and Embree was replaced by Mike MacIntyre.

Now, Wood believes the Buffs are better prepared for the perils of the road under their new coach. “Road games are very, very important for us,” Wood said. “In the past it’s not been good for us on the road. But with coach MacIntyre and our new leadership, I think they’re going to get us out of that cycle. When we go on the road I think we’re going to be even more intense and focused instead of playing on our heels. It’s an attitude, a mindset.”

It also helps the Buffs to hit the road with players like Paul Richardson, the FBS leader in receiving yards per game (208.5). He’s caught four of Woods’ passes for touchdowns, including a conference-long 82-yarder. But right behind “P-Rich” on the national pitch-and-catch chart is Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, who averages 159.8 receiving yards and has snared seven of Mannion’s passes for TDs.

Did we mention this could be a look-to-the-skies shootout?

Yet a key for both teams in Reser Stadium on Saturday (1 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Network) will be discovering a running game to help work the clock and keep that other QB off the field. Neither OSU’s nor CU’s ground work has excelled thus far, but in light of the expected conditions this would be the day to get a running game revved up. The Beavers are averaging a conference-worst 55.0 ground yards a game, the Buffs are No. 10 at 96.5. And OSU is expected to be without top tailback Storm Woods, who is out indefinitely with a concussion.

Paltry stats or injury reports don’t matter, said CU cornerback Kenneth Crawley: “We always have to respect the run . . . that’s how we go into every game.”

Just as critical as the run game for both teams, though, is rushing the passer. In August, OSU’s O-line featured four returning starters but that number now has dwindled to two. Missing are right guard Roman Sapolu and right tackle Grant Enger, which might benefit CU defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe and his fellow frontmen in generating a better pass rush.

The Beavers have a solid defensive front, anchored by ends Dylan Wynn (6-2, 260) and Scott Crichton (6-3, 265). Said Wood: “Oregon State is really good up front . . . they got active defensive ends, very athletic.” Wynn and Crichton have accounted for 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, with Crichton getting six of the tackles and 1.5 QB sacks.

Wood was sacked four times by Central Arkansas in CU’s most recent game, while Mannion has been sacked four times in four games. The Buffs’ ‘D’ has registered three sacks in two games, the Beavers 11 in their four.

This is CU’s first trip under MacIntyre, and his approach to a road game mirrors his detailed approach in virtually all things. “I think the primary aspect is they have to go with a mindset that it’s not a trip, its business,” he said. “You always hear coaches say it’s a business trip but you’re going there with one thing in mind and one thing only – win the football game. You have to understand that . . . the way we travel and the things we do and the way we meet all work towards that.”

Wood called MacIntyre “a very detail-oriented guy” and said that in Thursday’s practice he “cranked up the intensity and told us to really get the focus going.”

MacIntyre already is dialed in. When Thursday’s practice ended and his team huddled around him, he asked everyone except his players, his nine full-time assistant coaches and his strength/conditioning and training staffs to back away. Then he spoke to that group for a little over five minutes, undoubtedly underscoring everything Wood said about intensity and sharper focus on the road.

Will it be enough to restore the Buffs’ edge and offset a 21-day break between games?

“We’ll see on Saturday,” Wood said, “but I feel very prepared and I think our team feels very prepared to get back into the speed of the game. Absolutely, I’m ready to play.”

Buffs working to correct kick return issues

From the Daily Camera … Buffs rank 123rd nationally in kick return defense, allowing 35.6 yards per return.

… It all starts with the kick, of course. Junior Will Oliver has put just one kick out of the back of the end zone — his first kick of the year. Of his 15 kicks, just four have been touchbacks. Four have been fielded near the goal line. Winfrey’s big return was fielded 2 yards deep.

After Winfrey’s big return, the Buffs used pooch kicks on the last four attempts against UCA to get the ball near the 20 or 25 and avoid big returns.

Special teams coach Toby Neinas said he’s not concerned with Oliver, as long as the Buffs can do a better job of covering the kicks.

“Do you want a touchback? Sure,” Neinas said. “But, you know, back when (Martin) Gramatica was at Kansas State, they used to run him if he kicked the ball as a touchback because he had the ability to hang the football and they were so fast that they could cover underneath it and pin. That’s the best kick.

“The kick that drops at the 1 with a 4.1-(second) hang, that ball should never make it to the 20. That’s the best kick. But, where we are right now, I’d take a touchback every time.”

Oliver has been getting the ball near the goal line, but the issue has come after that, Neinas said. Opponents have found big holes.

“The single most disappointing thing if you watch us in Weeks 1 and 2 were the volume of people that we had down the field at reception and the fact that we weren’t able to get the ball on the ground,” he said. “We had people in the neighborhood, and I didn’t get it done on that one.

“What it came down to was execution of the scheme and I did not have it impressed upon them enough to understand exactly what we needed to do to have success there. They were able to basically kind of Red Sea us, so to speak.”

Since the Central Arkansas game, CU’s kickoff coverage unit has spent a lot of time on fundamentals, such as shedding blocks quickly and getting back into lanes. Neinas has also hammered home the scheme that he wants to execute on game day.

Neinas is eager to see the results of the unit’s hard work when they visit Oregon State on Saturday.

“It’s very, very important from a psychological standpoint that we see success in that phase on Saturday,” he said. “It’s very important for our team to feel good about that, because mentally right now we’re fragile when it comes to that team.

“I’ll really be disappointed (if that unit is not better). We tried to break it all down and rebuild it up, and I really feel that the guys understand.

“Frankly, it’s my responsibility, so it better show up on Saturday.”

September 26th

Buffs liken OSU’s Sean Mannion to Fresno State’s Derek Carr

From … Three weeks ago Colorado’s defense was feverishly preparing for Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr. That matchup never materialized but the preparation was hardly wasted.

On Saturday the Buffs ‘D’ faces Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, and this is CU cornerbacks coach Andy LaRussa’s assessment of Carr and Mannion: “You’re preparing for basically the same guy; they’re both damn good quarterbacks. They both can sling the ball really well and both are really accurate. It’s going to be quite a challenge.”

It will be that way weekly as the Buffs wade into the Pac-12 Conference. Quarterback play in the Pac-12 this season appears to be typically superb; eight league members – including OSU at No. 3 and CU at No. 7 – are listed among the NCAA’s top 18 passing offenses.

LaRussa’s “same guy” comparison of Mannion and Carr is statistically sound. Mannion is second on the NCAA stat sheet in passing yards per game (401.0), while Carr is third (373.7). Mannion averages 33 completions a game (15 TDs, one interception), Carr 37 (12 TDs, one interception). Mannion leads the FBS in total passing yards (1,606).

If LaRussa’s corners have observed a difference on tape in the play of Carr/Mannion, it is this: Carr might be the more mobile of the two. But, noted LaRussa, “I don’t know that that changes anything. In our position you still have to cover guys as long as you can. (Mannion) does a great job . . . he’s kind of like Dan Marino or Payton Manning. They’re not the fastest guys but they find a way to keep the play alive and take downfield shots. So in that regard you have to stay in coverage.”

Added senior safety Parker Orms on Mannion: “He can still get out of the pocket and move. We have to put pressure on him; that’s the big thing we’re trying to do right now. If we can get pressure on the QB and have good coverage, we’ll have a good day on the defensive side of the ball.”

In its first two games – wins against Colorado State and Central Arkansas – CU’s secondary held up well compared to the 2012 season. But corners Greg Henderson, a junior, and Kenneth Crawley, a sophomore, haven’t yet faced a passing combination like they will in their Pac-12 opener.

Mannion’s top target is Brandin Cooks, a compact (5-10, 186 pounds) junior who leads the NCAA in receiving yards (639) and is second nationally behind CU’s Paul Richardson in receiving yards per game. Richardson averages 208.5, Cooks 159.8.

CU has allowed 240.5 passing yards a game – ninth in the Pac-12 – but only two TD passes. It’s only been two games, but that still represents a dramatic improvement from a dizzying 2012 season that saw the Buffs yield a nation-worst 39 TD passes.

“We know our assignments better, we know where we’re supposed to be on the field,” Crawley said. “I feel like everybody is more comfortable doing their jobs. The coaches have us better prepared.”

Crawley, tossed into the pass-mad Pac-12 last season as a freshman, said his increased comfort level is based on “the game coming to me way slower. And I’ve got more help over the top (usually from a safety).”

At Crawley’s position, comfort comes from confidence – and LaRussa has seen Crawley’s take a sharp upturn. “He’s got a lot of his confidence back and that’s a big part of it,” LaRussa said. “That’s a big intangible at that position. The way you carry yourself and let water fall off your back is big.

“You can’t let yourself worry about the last play; you worry about the next play. Go out and make another play. As easy as we can give up a play, we can come back and make a big play and impact the game.”

Connor Wood compared to Utah’s Travis Wilson

From the Oregonian … Less than two weeks ago, Utah quarterback Travis Wilson torched Oregon State’s defense for 421 all-purpose yards. The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder accounted for 78 percent of the Utes’ total offense, nearly leading his team to a come-from-behind win.

Mike Riley likely pondered that display when he watched Colorado film earlier this week. The Buffaloes’ Connor Wood, after all, owns some striking similarities to Wilson. He hardly possesses Wilson’s mobility, but Wood has the size, arm strength and renewed confidence that have propelled the Utah signal caller’s breakout sophomore campaign.

“We liken him to Travis Wilson,” Riley said Tuesday. “He’s a good player, good thrower. He’s been very productive throwing the ball in the two games they’ve had this year.”

Last year, Wood struggled in a largely backup role for a one-win squad. He often entered games when Colorado faced a sizable deficit, and he went 21-of-42 for 265 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions on the season.

But Wood has thrived since new head coach Mike MacIntyre and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren named him the starter late last month. After the Buffaloes finished their most recent game on Sept. 7, Wood ranked fifth nationally with 741 passing yards. Wood showed remarkable poise during a tight season-opening win at rival Colorado State, completing 33 of 46 passes for 400 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Of course, Wood’s transformation isn’t just about a new coaching staff, new schemes and improved confidence. He can now lean on ultra-athletic wide receiver Paul Richardson, who missed all of 2012 with a knee injury. The junior is averaging a nation-leading 208.5 receiving yards per game, giving Wood a go-to target who can seemingly stretch a defense at will.

“I’ve been watching him a lot,” Beavers cornerback Steven Nelson said of Richardson. “He’s a great athlete, plays the ball.”

September 25th

Oregon State not alone in concerns over defensive performance

From the Corvallis Gazette-Times … Oregon State’s defense has been beaten up by fans for not being able to stop anyone this season.

And while it is true that through four games the Beavers have given up some head-scratching plays and missed a fair share of tackles, you could make the case the defense has done its part to help them win the last two games.

Take last Saturday’s game at San Diego State. The Beavers gave up 24 points and 248 yards to the Aztecs in the first half and were down 10.

Something had to change or the Beavers would head back to Corvallis with a loss.

Fortunately for the Beavers, it did.

The defense limited the Aztecs to just two field goals, both coming after turnovers in OSU territory.

… The Beavers are 107th in scoring defense, allowing 35.3 points per game, and 92nd in total defense, giving up 432 yards per game.

And they have failed to stop the opposition once they get in the red zone as teams are 13-for 13, scoring seven touchdowns and kicking six field goals.

The Beavers aren’t the only team to have some issues on defense this season.

Look around the country and the numbers are surprising.

Take the vaunted Alabama defense. The Crimson Tide gave up 628 yards and 42 points against Texas A&M two weeks ago. Yes, it is true the Aggies have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback in Johnny Manziel so that can skew the numbers a bit.

Still, the up-tempo, spread offenses that are rampant in college football are allowing for high-scoring games with yards being piled up like leaves in the fall on the street of Corvallis.

The top 25 scoring teams — OSU is tied for 24th — are averaging 41 points or better. Baylor is at 69.7 with Oregon at 61.3.

The Ducks and Beavers are two of the Pac-12 teams that are in the top 25. UCLA is third at 52.7, Arizona is 15th at 43.7 and Washington is 18th at 42.7.

San Diego State’s Rocky Long, a defensive-minded coach, summed up his thoughts on the state of college football prior to last week’s game against the Beavers.

“I think offenses have spread defenses from sideline to sideline, and they’re able to get the ball to good athletes in the open field so there’s a lot of one-on-one tackles,” he said.

“With the addition of the zone-read, you’re not getting the same pass rush because the defensive linemen can’t run up the field because that will open up huge seams in the running game.

“… The people that have designed this offense have done some wonderful things that make it almost impossible to stop unless you have guys that can play straight man-to-man coverage, or a four-man rush that completely dominates the line of scrimmage.”

So that means you have to keep it all in perspective. Give up a big play or two and you have to regroup quickly.

Banker said at OSU, the coaches summarize each series and group of series to let the players know where they are at.

“It’s important you do that and keep it in perspective so that the team doesn’t let those thing affect them,” Banker said.

You would be hard-pressed to find any defensive coaches who like this offensive trend.

“I think it makes it more enjoyable for the fans, but I’m old school,” Long said. “I like to see the intimidation factor, and they’ve eliminated that. I don’t think tackling is any worse than it ever was. The difference is you used to tackle in a small area. Now the tackles are in the open field, and if you miss, there’s nobody else there.”

And that is a big reason for the astronomical yardage numbers and crazy point totals teams are putting up so far this season.

September 24th

Mac Press Conference quotes:

Opening statement – “First, I’d like to send out our thoughts and prayers who have been struggling with the flood. Having gone through it myself (while living in Tennessee), I know what it’s like, and there’s still people out there struggling every day. They are going to be out of their houses for awhile, so it’s a long haul”.

On Oregon State in general – “Moving on to our football game. Our players and our coaches, I think everybody is excited about playing our football game and trying to get back to some normalcy. We play a very, very good football team, going to their place at Oregon State. Mike Riley I think is an exceptional coach, very well respected in our business, not only as a coach but as a person. His teams play with unbelievable energy and resiliency. They really should be 4-0, but they are 3-1. They are an excellent football team, the way I see it. They were a preseason ranked top 25 team, and I think that’s what they are. They are exceptional on offense, with their passing game. (Quarterback Sean) Mannion is really, really good. He can make every throw. (Wide receiver Brandin) Cooks, No. 7, he’s an excellent receiver, but if watch the tape, the amazing thing is the yards after the catch. He’s like a running back when he catches the ball. He makes people miss right and left. As to No. 8, Richard Mullaney. He didn’t play much in the Eastern Washington game, and then all of the sudden he appears in the next game, and makes big play after big play after big play. Their receiver coach coached for me at San Jose State, so I know him really well, Brent Brennen, he does a great job with the receivers … Defensively, they play hard, they play recklessly, and I think they are a very good defense. I know their numbers haven’t shown that, I know that’s coach talk, but they were really good a year ago statistically. I think that they really just ran into sort of a buzzsaw here at the beginning, but I still think that they have really, really good players … It’s going to be a tough game for us. Our kids are excited about playing, and want to go play, and they are excited about playing a Pac-12 football game”.

On getting back to normal – “I think that is all getting back to normal, the preparation … We had quite a few kids who were displaced, and who are in different apartments now, and had to apply to get money to replace the things that they lost, but I think they are now all back to normalcy, and they will be fine”.

On going on the road – “We have four goals for our team, that are ours personally, and I won’t share with you here. But we started attacking it Monday as a team. I think the primary aspect is that they have to go in with a mindset that it’s not a trip, it’s a business trip. You are going there with one thing in mind, and one thing only, win the football game. We have to understand that. We can enjoy all of the stuff, and take it all in, but you have to have the mindset and the perspective that you are going there to win a football game. It’s something we talk about quite often, we do have a formula that we follow. The way we travel, the things we do, how we meet, all work towards that”.

On Improving During the Break – “I definitely think we have improved during this time.  We’ll be able to tell here in the next game but we play some really, really good football teams and I think we’ve gotten back to being a little bit more healthy and I think we did improve.  We concentrated on different aspects of our game that we were struggling.  We’re trying to improve on the areas we were doing well at so hopefully we’ll show that Saturday.  The speed of the game is one thing I’ve talked about that we’ve tried to work really hard at.  We did it again today.  We went good on good quite a bit today to keep the speed of the game going and that’s something that you get when you play in games.  So, they have four games we have two so there’s a little bit of an advantage on that side of it.  On the other side, hopefully we’re a little bit fresher than they are.  I’m hoping.”

On taking a team on the road – “Every plane trip that we took (at San Jose State) was delayed one hour to five hours. It’s crazy, I’ve never seen anything like it, and we won every single plane trip. So I don’t know how much of it is the travel. It’s the mindset of your kids, the mindset of our coaches. Our coaches, we always take the mindset that we’re not going to get ruffled, we’re not going to get upset about being (stuck) somewhere. We’re not going to get upset if the food’s cold. We’re just going to stay focused on the main thing at hand, and hopefully we set the tempo of that as coaches. This is the first time for these young men to travel with us, and we’ve talked about every scenario already with the team, and we’re going to prepare them, and get them to realize that the main goal is to win the football game”.

On Maintaining Early Momentum after Long Layoff – “Go win the next game.  That’s what we need to do.  So, we just have got to go play and not worry about that and just keep playing and keep playing.  That’s the thing.  Our first two games our kids played the whole 60 minutes.  Yeah, we had some ups and we had some downs but they were playing all the time but I hope we keep doing it and I think we will.”

On Flood’s Impact on Team – “I think that definitely it taught a life lesson.  It made them re-focus and realize how precious different things are in life and also at the same time…..things that you do, that you’ve worked hard and have an honor to do….I think it makes you re-focus on that and don’t take anything for granted so to speak.  So I have seen that with the team and I sure hope that has brought them closer together and keeps them stronger.”

On Filling Vacancy in the Schedule – “I’ve said this a hundred times.  I talked to Rick (George) last night late and he’s working extremely hard.  I know they’re working on some things today.  There looked like there was going to be some things happening then they didn’t happen. Now it looks like some other things are going to happen so I don’t know.  I keep saying I’m going to find out any hour now but we haven’t.  I know Rick is working really, really hard at it and I know something good will come of it.”

On Whether the Team Might Play San Jose State to Fill Out the Schedule – “No.  I will not play San Jose State.  I don’t want to go up against young men that I’ve gone against before and who I care deeply about.  I don’t think that would be the right thing to do.”

On Mindset of Potential Teams Who Would Consider Giving Up a Bye Week to Play CU – “If you needed another game to win that you thought you could win to come to a bowl game…..That would be my thought process on it.  If you don’t think you could win then they’re probably not going to play us.  So, on that side of it, just talking as a coach….but hopefully we’ll work something out and get there.”

On Replicating Game Speed in Practice – “Well we went against each other.  We kind of did it like a miniature spring practice.  We’ve gone against each other more than you might have during the season at this time and we had competition where we kept score and when we keep score the guys are competing even harder.  Those are some of the things that we did on that.  We did a lot of tackling drills and those types of things that you would do in fall camp so it was kind of a miniature spring practice/ fall camp, I tried to combine the two to basically help us keep the speed of the game. So, it’s basically ones against ones as much as you can.” 

On the Challenge of Matching that Speed in Practice – “It was a bit of challenge because you do it too much and you’ll get somebody hurt and if you don’t do it enough you’re not good enough.  So we felt like we’ve done it enough.  We’ll even do it some more tomorrow to keep the speed going but we won’t be in full pads.  We’ll just be in shoulder pads and helmets tomorrow.”

On the Role the Running Game Will Play in This Game – “I guarantee you they’re hoping they can run the ball some more and we’re hoping that we can run the ball some more. Both teams are good.  Both teams have some good receivers.  Sometimes if something is not clicking then you kind of go to your strength.  Look at what they’ve done…They have the best passing duo in the country and their quarterback is second in the country after four games and he’s only thrown one pick so there’s not a lot of turnovers going on so I think they’ll just keep trying to throw it but I know they’ll be try to establish the run in some parts and aspects of it.”

On the Diminishing Importance of the Running Game in Modern Football – “I guess I didn’t watch much of it…I saw a few……but the Denver Broncos are throwing the ball and scoring at will and I don’t think they care how many yards they run  for.  So, I think that that stat is starting to change a little bit especially when you have an accurate quarterback who can move the chains.  So, I think that stat is changing a little bit.  They’ve been able to be so successful at Oregon State, throwing the ball like they have….the thing that they do a little different is they throw nine to 10 screens a game and I really think that’s their running game.  Easy throw, catch the ball, running back or receiver and run…..and if you look at it they’ve made some big, big first down and second down plays off of those plays.  I can guarantee if you ask their offensive coordinator or you ask (head coach) Mike Riley eventually they would tell you ‘Yeah that’s part of our running game.’  I mean because they throw nine to 10.  That’s a lot of screens in a football game.  That also slows down your rush and that type of thing so I consider that part of their running game so when I look at them I say ‘Yeah they run the ball but they’re also throwing 10 screens a game for 125 yards of passing a game.’  That’s really like a running catch or like a handoff to me.”

On Oregon State’s Resiliency after Losing Their Opener – “I think that Eastern Washington is a good football team.  That quarterback put on a magic show if you go watch it on tape…number three for Eastern Washington.  So, I think that was a situation……they had chances to win it at the end. They missed a field goal and that (kicker) is a good field goal kicker and I think he would usually make it but he just missed it.  So, I think they should be 4-0.  They played really well against Hawai’i then went on the road and won a big game in Utah which was a dramatic game and went down to San Diego State and got behind but fought back a little bit and won it.  They just kept clawing back.  I think they’re very resilient.  I think they have playmakers that can make plays on both sides of the ball and I think that’s why they’ve been able to score the points that they’ve been scoring.  Their playmakers make plays.”

On Christian Powell’s Injury Status – “He looked good the last two days in practice and he has looked that way in practice before so hopefully in the games he doesn’t get it dinged up.  We’ve had a little bit of time to…..we rested him a couple days just to make sure but hopefully it will not get dinged up again and he’ll be able to keep going.”

On Defensing Oregon State’s Lethal Passing Game – “I think the thing that (Sean) Mannion does is….you can’t sit on one or other, he’ll pick you apart.  They’ll run screens, they’ll run picks.  They have a very good passing core so I think we’re going to have to mix that up but we’re going to have to play some man because we’re going to have to be able to get up on them close in different situations.  We’re going to have to kind of disrupt their routes and then we’re going to have to mix it up.  Hopefully we can mix it up enough that it will confuse them a little bit and help us make plays and hopefully create some turnovers in the passing game for them.”

On Personal Feelings in Dealing with the Unexpected Layoff – “Well it’s been adventurous.  I would say that it’s been a little bit anxious because we’re all ready to play.  If you prepare a team on Friday and you come off the field and you as a coach kind of know it’s going to happen and the kids don’t and everything’s done and you’re about to get on the bus to go to the hotel and play game and you have to pull a group of guys in and say ‘Hey we’re not playing.’….After that happened I went back in the locker room and said ‘God, I feel like we’ve kind of just lost a football game.’  So, that emotional rollercoaster was tough but not near as tough as everything that was going on with everyone else.  I had to take off my competitive hat and put on my realistic hat so we did that and the kids did too and then they came back Monday and practiced well and they came back this Monday and practiced really well so we even had to change up our off-week schedule.  It was going to be different than it was.  We had it all planned then we had to change it all because of the situation that happened.  So, it’s been….hopefully the right decisions were made.  It’s been a little bit of trial and error and hopefully not many errors were made along the way in preparing us for this week.”

On How Players Dealt with Layoff – “They were good and we had given them that Saturday and Sunday off too so they were fresh to come back.  Hopefully, we’re going to have 10 games straight here so I was looking at that also as I was preparing for this game I was also looking at preparing our guys for four or five weeks on down the road for…..Hopefully it doesn’t happen but we’re going to have some injuries that guys I’ve prepared over these last two weeks that I would in an open date.  I’ve got them ready to go too when they’re opportunity arises so it’s a combination.”

On the Closing of Campus during the Week of the Flooding – “Well, school was disrupted Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and they went back to school on Monday so they missed those three days before.  They probably enjoyed it.”

On Impressions of Pac-12 So Far – “I’ve been very, very impressed with the Pac-12.  I really have.  I always have.  Sitting back and watching the games….you know there are some really good quarterbacks in this league.  There’s some really good defensive linemen in this league and I think those two areas are the areas that I think help you win and lose football games the quickest on the upper echelon depending on how good your quarterback is and how good your defensive line is and I think there’s some really good ones in this league and I’m looking forward to playing in the Pac-12 when we start this Saturday.  I think there are some coaches that have done a great job and it looks like there are some really fun atmospheres to go play in too.”

On Terrence Crowder’s Situation – “He’s got some things he has to do.  I talked to him earlier before I came here and he’s working with Coach (Klayton) Adams and some other people.  We have a list of things that he needs to do and look into before we put him back on the team along with… see how the situation resolves that he was involved in so there’s a couple different things that he’s got to do.”

 On Sefo Liufau – “Sefo has definitely been improving.  He’s getting more and more comfortable.  I think all of the quarterbacks are getting better too and moving forward but Sefo has shown…he hasn’t regressed at all.  He keeps making increments forward which is exciting to me to see.

Oregon State looking for improved play from its linebackers

From the Oregonian … The first question posed to linebackers coach Trent Bray after OSU’s Tuesday practice was probably one he anticipated:

How the heck do you pronounce Rommel Mageo’s name anyway?

For the record, it’s “RAW-mo MANG-yao” according to the pronunciation guide. And people better get used to saying it, if Saturday’s 34-30 win over San Diego State is any hint of what’s to come.

The redshirt freshman from Pago Pago, America Samoa came into camp expecting to contribute on special teams, but got a chance to prove he could do more Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium when starting middle linebacker Joel Skotte missed some tackles early. Bray pulled Skotte in favor of Mageo, and the 6-foot-2, 244-pounder responded by recording six tackles, including 2.5 for loss.

“Joel’s been struggling a bit not trusting himself, so it’s slowing him down,” Bray said. “Mageo came in and played fast, brought a physical presence to the game. So that’s where we’re starting this week. As the season goes on, it’s going to be a constant competition.”

Bray likes Mageo’s speed for his size, and says it’s obvious in watching replays of the game that Mageo can chase ballcarriers, and do it quickly. The addition of Mageo is yet another change in an ever-evolving linebacking corps. The Beavers were without starting outside linebacker D.J. Alexander for the first two games of the season as he recovered from a knee sprain, and their other starting outside linebacker, Michael Doctor, is in a boot after an ankle injury that’s expected to sideline him for at least another month. But in Mageo, the Beavers might have found a rising star.

September 23rd

First practice back – “I have not seen them slack off or be late or not hustle in practice”

From … After a weekend off, the Buffs returned to practice Monday morning to continue their preparations for Saturday’s matchup against Oregon State. Head coach Mike MacIntyre admitted to the media after practice that slowing down a team with the nation’s third-ranked passing attack will be a tough challenge for his defense. He said Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion “makes a lot of great plays. We just have to try to keep them at bay and hopefully we can disrupt that passing game.” . . . . MacIntyre watched Oregon State’s win over San Diego State on Saturday from his home and was impressed with what he saw offensively from the Beavers. He believes Oregon State’s consistently high scoring offense is a testament to long-time head coach Mike Riley and his coaching staff. “They do a great job,” MacIntyre said. “They’re stable and those kids want to be successful”.

… MacIntyre acknowledged that the team’s three-week layoff between games in the middle of the season is the longest such layoff of his coaching career. “I’ve never had a break this long during the season and I never want it to happen again,” MacIntyre said. “It kind of reminds me of bowl time. I’d rather be playing games. I’d like to have a week off but not three.” . . . . MacIntyre is happy that the team has not used the extended layoff as an excuse to relax. “In our situation I think (this situation) has actually motivated them,” MacIntyre said. “I have not seen them slack off or miss meetings or be late or not hustle in practice.” . . . . MacIntyre also announced that freshman defensive lineman Timothy Coleman, Jr. has a torn Achilles and will have surgery, therefore missing the remainder of the season. Coleman did not play in the team’s first two games.

September 21st

Oregon State pulls out unlikely 34-30 victory against San Diego State

Two weeks in a row, Oregon State faced a certain defeat on the road.

Two weeks in a row, Oregon State pulled out a victory on the road.

In the fourth quarter against Utah … on fourth-and-nine from the OSU 22-yard-line, Sean Mannion completed a 13-yard pass to Richard Mullaney. The drive culminated in an 18-yard touchdown reception by Cooks. A two-point conversion pass to Conner Hamlett gave OSU a 45-38 lead with 2:29 to play in regulation.

Earlier in the quarter, on fourth-and-1 at their own 45, the Beavers used razzle-dazzle to keep their advantage. Mannion pitched the ball to Terron Ward, who threw it back across the field to the quarterback, who in turn launched it 48 yards to Brandin Cooks. The play led to Romaine’s 20-yard field goal, his third of the game.

Utah went on to win that game, 51-48, in overtime.

In the fourth quarter against San Diego State … Oregon State turned a 27-14 deficit into a 34-30 victory with a 20-3 fourth quarter. It helped that the Aztecs (0-3) imploded, turning the ball over on interceptions twice in the last three minutes of the game, including a game-winning interception for a touchdown with 2:31 to play.

Now, the Beavers, who were two or three plays away from 1-3, return home with a 3-1 record … with confidence and momentum.

Note to Colorado coaches and players … no fourth quarter lead is safe against this team.

September 20th

Oregon State an eight-point favorite over San Diego State has Oregon State as an eight point favorite over San Diego State on the road.

The Beavers will kickoff against the Aztecs at 5:30 p.m. (MT) on the CBSSports Networks. Oregon State comes into the game with a 2-1 record, having bounced back from an opening game loss to Eastern Washington with wins over Hawai’i and Utah. San Diego State, meanwhile, is 0-2 on the season. After an embarrassing opening game loss at home to 1-AA Eastern Illinois – by a humbling 40-19 score – the Aztecs lost on the road to Ohio State, 42-7.

As is so often the case with two blowout losses on the record, San Diego State’s rankings are not exceptional. The Aztecs are 121st in scoring; 119th in scoring defense.

Meanwhile, Oregon State is tied for the nation’s lead in passing offense (tied with Cal at 438.70 yards per game) and tied for 21st in scoring offense (43.3 ppg.).

With SDSU coming off a bye week after a lackluster start to the year, this game could be a pivotal point in the Aztecs’ season.

“It’s the difference between 1-2 and 0-3,” said senior safety Nat Berhe. “This is going to be huge for us. We understand that.”

In a way, Game 3 marks a fresh beginning.

“Our motto we always say around here is to ‘Win 20,’ but now we’re saying, ‘Win the first one, then go win 20,” said tight end Adam Roberts, referring to the team’s 2013 goal of winning a 20th conference championship. “We want to put the first two games behind us and focus on getting the first win.”

San Diego State leads the series, 2-1, but Oregon State won the last game played between the two teams, back in 2000.

Oregon State looking for improvement on defense against San Diego State

From the Corvallis Gazette-Times … Small steps.

In each of the last two games, the Oregon State defense has made a move forward.

To many observers, it might be difficult to see much, if any, improvement by the Beavers’ D.

It is there, between the breakdowns and big plays.

“We’re a ways away from that first game of the season, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s still a work in progress,” defensive coordinator Mark Banker said. “And players know that, coaches know that and we’re building to that. We can’t take a step backward.”

The defense was embarrassed in that first game of the season, giving up 625 yards and 49 points to Eastern Washington.

Sloppy tackling, confused coverage and lost containment were all contributing factors.

The Beavers played better against Hawaii, but the Rainbow Warriors lacked offensive power.

Utah was a much stiffer test.

The Beavers seemed up to the challenge in the first half. They were aggressive up front and swarmed to the ball, forcing the Utes to go three-and-out on the first three drives.

“The first couple drives. We just came out on fire and we got like three three-and-outs,” cornerback Sean Martin said. “I knew right there that we could do that any time we want. We’ve just got to have the right mindset.”

Utah did put together a touchdown drive and then hit a field goal, but the Beavers came up with a interception return by Martin for a touchdown to start the third quarter with a 27-10 lead.

Then the Beavers started to slide the wrong way.

Utah threw a few wrinkles in their offense and OSU did not respond well. That led to 35 second-half points for the Utes before the Beavers ultimately won in overtime.

“That’s the cool thing about football. It’s a humbling game,” defensive end Dylan Wynn said. “Whenever you think that you’re at a good point like the first half when we were shutting them down, teams adapt and teams come back harder and they got us on our heels a little bit.”

Again and again, the Beavers were fooled by the fake on the read option. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson often kept it and charged to 142 yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns. Running back James Poole had 117 yards on 25 attempts.

“It goes back to when we get tired,” Wynn said. “Everyone wants to make plays and everyone wants to be right and so we start overplaying things instead of playing the defense.

“That’s when we have to go back in and be like, OK, calm down. We’re fine. Just play the defense and we’ll be good.”

The Beavers also struggled against the screen pass, giving up several big plays.

Poole had seven catches for 70 yards and Lucky Radley had two for 30 with a touchdown. Many of those were on screens.

September 17th

Without leading rusher, Oregon State to refocus running attack

From the Oregonian … At this point, even the most critical pundits may struggle to find issues with Oregon State’s passing game.

With the Sean Mannion-Brandin Cooks connection leading the way, the Beavers are tied with California for the nation’s No. 1 passing offense. Mannion became the first player in program history Saturday to throw for more than 350 yards in three consecutive games.

But Danny Langsdorf understands that maintaining such production through the air will prove difficult deeper in Pac-12 play. Coverages will become tighter, windows will become smaller and wide-open opportunities will become scarcer. And when that happens, the Beavers’ offensive coordinator reasons, the run game should finally develop.

“I think as we continue to throw the ball,” Langsdorf said, “that’ll help us a little bit more to run the ball.”

But OSU is hardly content waiting any longer to establish a potent ground game. Coaches know a balanced offense is key for any successful team. And they realize that the Beavers’ recent production is unacceptable — at any phase of the season.

OSU ranks 117th out of 123 FBS programs with 70 rushing yards per game. The Beavers net more than 86 percent of their total offense through the air, which forces Mannion and Cooks to shoulder considerable pressure.

For coach Mike Riley’s team to escape Salt Lake City with a 51-48 overtime win Saturday, Mannion needed a career-high 443 passing yards and Cooks needed to haul in a career-high 210. It’s not necessarily a model for extended success, especially considering six squads remaining on OSU’s schedule rank in the top 20 nationally at defending the pass.

So the Beavers hope a new-look backfield rotation can find some momentum at San Diego State on Saturday. Starting running back Storm Woods will miss at least a week after suffering a concussion at Utah, moving junior Terron Ward into the first unit. Redshirt freshman Chris Brown expects to make his first collegiate appearance as Ward’s primary backup, and senior Jovan Stevenson could log time as well.

“We’ve got some depth, and we’ve got some great kids who work hard,” running backs coach Chris Brasfield said. “Terron’s been there. He’s done that. He knows what we’ve been doing.”

True enough. Ward, who rushed for 430 yards and six touchdowns in 2012, owns 149 career carries. But he will likely need to remedy recent struggles for the Beavers to improve the ground game. He has yet to break off a run longer than six yards this season, averaging just 2.4 on 18 total attempts.

Ward must try not to worry about doing “too much,” Langsdorf said. And he must work on hitting the right hole when it develops.

But what about when no hole appears at all?

A reshuffled offensive line and poor overall blocking have triggered many of the Beavers’ rushing issues. A series of setbacks forced the Beavers to be creative with their front five. They plugged in new starters at center and right guard, and moved All-America center Isaac Seumalo to right tackle.

Such turnover has impacted running backs’ ability to develop chemistry with the big-bodied men in front of them. And many players responsible for blocking — linemen, tight ends, wide receivers — have failed to follow through on assignments.

“I don’t have all the answers,” said Brasfield, whose crew mustered just 48 rushing yards against a physical Utes front seven. “Obviously we want to be able to run the ball more effectively.”

The Beavers may have that opportunity against San Diego State, which owns one of the nation’s worst rush defenses so far this season. Even Eastern Illinois, a team that ranked near the bottom of the FCS’ Ohio Valley Conference on the ground last year, managed a solid 172 rushing yards against the Aztecs.

So Langsdorf won’t offer Woods’ absence as an excuse should OSU’s run game continue to sputter. Winning teams must eventually gain consistent yardage in more than one way, he figures. The Beavers are no exception.

“We want and need the balance to run and pass,” Langsdorf said. “We’ll need to improve in that part of the game in order to be successful.”

3 Replies to “Colorado Daily – Oregon State”

  1. Utah went on to win that game, 51-48, in overtime. I think this should have been Oregon State went on to win that game unless I’m just missing something here. Just trying to be of service to your fantastic blog. Thanks Stuart

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