OSU football: Being a special teams coordinator is a huge task for Read, Beavers

2011-09-08T04:00:00Z 2011-09-08T15:49:52Z OSU football: Being a special teams coordinator is a huge task for Read, BeaversBy CLIFF KIRKPATRICK, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

Organization and persistence are some of Bruce Read's best qualities.

He needs them every day as the special teams coordinator for the Oregon State football team.

Read has the vast responsibility of coaching 77 different positions with seven groups.

There are teams for field goals, field goal blocks, punts, punt returns, kickoff, kickoff returns and the hands teams on onside kicks.

"There's a lot of organization keeping track of everybody," Read said. "You try to be as consistent as possible, but there are so many parts."

Compare that to the other assistant coaches who coach a position with only a dozen or less players to watch, and it can be an overwhelming situation.

Even the offensive and defensive coordinators coach only 11 positions at a time.

"It's a big, big job and Bruce is one of the best in the country," coach Mike Riley said. "There are only a few full-time special teams coordinators in the county (at the college level), and I love having it in Bruce's hands."

Teams commonly put one of the position coaches in charge of lining players up for the special teams as an afterthought.

Special teams are not just about kicking and punting. Read must find the best players to cover kicks or to block. Sometimes they are not available since they are starters on offense or defense.

Cornerback Jordan Poyer is an example. The Beavers don't want him worn out on all the special teams plays because they need to him on defense.

Read might find a standout younger player to play on many teams. If he gets hurt, Read must find several players to take his place.

Freshman DJ Welch was on four teams during training camp before an elbow injury caused Read to restructure his teams.

"There's a rippling effect," Read said. "It's a nonstop personnel battle. I have to train them and retrain them. It's always one good thing is happening like returns and then something bad like you get a punt blocked and you are constantly trying to keep it together."

Read installs his blocking and return plans in the spring, then refines them during training camp.

Problems are corrected in meetings with the players each Sunday of game week. Then Read takes Monday to come up with a game plan for the next opponent.

Read doesn't change much depending on the opponent, instead he tries to refine what the Beavers do.

If there's an issue, he and Riley work it out in their daily meetings. Riley loves the special teams and tries to make them turn the game in OSU's favor.

"Mike does a great job putting emphasis on special teams," Read said. "Our players know he's very involved. He comes to a lot of the meetings. We talk about it every day. He's in tune, and our guys get that. They know it's an important part of the program."

Read runs meetings each day to make sure all his players know what to do before practicing it on the field.

A four-man team of graduate and undergraduate assistants helps Read prepare material for the players to study each week.

Read gets 45 minutes to an hour before each practice to run through special teams as a group. For the rest of practice, he focuses on the kickers, punters and long snappers.

"You would always like more time, but I like our structure the way it is and the emphasis we have on it," Read said.

When it comes to the game, Read is constantly preparing a team for situations as they change from punt to field goal.

He calls the kind of returns and kicks on his own; big plays such as fakes are approved by Riley. However, they already have a pregame plan for when to pull them out.

"Mike has seen what we practiced all week and knows what we trying to do," Read said.

Read and Riley have been together for 11 seasons, and what they have done has worked over the years. Read is in his eighth year at OSU, covering three different stints, and they had a three-year run with the San Diego Chargers.

Read has tried the NFL at various times, but when there was an opening with Riley he came back.

"Mike really enjoys the offense and he likes to spend time over there," Read said. "He can just know I'm doing the best I can with this thing to make it right. It is a good situation."

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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