OSU football: Mike Riley

Oregon State’s Mike Riley needs three victories to become the school’s all-time winningest football coach. (Andy Cripe | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Andy Cripe

Mike Riley begins his 12th season — 10th in his second tenure— at the helm of the Oregon State football today.

Riley has helped usher in the resurgence of a program that went through 28 straight losing seasons.

He needs three wins this season to surpass Lon Stiner’s (1933-48) record 74.

Since returning to OSU in 2003, Riley has led the Beavers to six bowl games in nine years. However, the last one was the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl.

After returning to the postseason in 1999 to break the infamous streak, the Beavers were bowl game regulars until last season. It was the first time since that the Beavers had back-to-back losing campaigns.

Riley hopes to ends the skid before it expands any further. Longtime fans have had flashbacks to the dark days of the 1980s and 1990s.

Here’s a look at what Riley is thinking going into training camp.

Are you ready for the start of the season?

“I’ve had a good summer of organization and we are ready. We are excited to get started.”

What’s the attitude of the team?

“The attitude of the team over the course of time has been good. I just have a good vibe about it. It has been good work and good attitude over the summer. There has been a lot of physical improvement in speed and size. They worked hard and are anxious for the start of the year. That makes its good for the coaches.”

Why the good vibe of this team over others?

“That’s just the vibe I get. When I say I get a good feel from this team, they are working together well. From what I hear of them working out in the summer, I have a good feel for that. I have a feel for the number of times guys work together.”

Does last year’s 3-9 season hang over you?

“What you need to do with the past is learn from it. We’ve done a lot of studying — the players, too. As far as this year, we don’t spend a lot time with that. For us we are pushing forward.”

What’s the expectations on quarterback Sean Mannion?

“He has to grow. He threw some good balls and had great numbers. But parts of those numbers have to get better. He needs less sacks and interceptions.”

Are you surprised the team voted Mannion one of the captains as a sophomore since he’s so quiet?

“The No. 1 thing it shows is respect for him from our team. He’s not vocal but getting more comfortable. He’s a dedicated worker and the team saw that.”

How much has everyone grown?

“We have a lot of guys who have been in the games. The realization to what it takes has been important to their growth. It’s a positive feel going forward. There’s no reason to let the past drag you down.”

You have said the secondary is the strength. How much of that is new coach Rod Perry’s doing?

“Rod was a tremendous addition. He’s an experienced football coach. He coached in every scheme there is to coach. He’s a veteran coach and a great person. He’s great for these kids.”

Will there be more scrimmaging with officials this year in camp to get ready for the season?

“We’ll do our normal routine with officials. We’ll do a lot of team interactions. And we’ll do some combination drills. For example, our tight ends have to get better at blocking the edge, so they’ll work with the lines a lot. You’ll see a lot of group work.”

Are you going to continue to call the plays in practice like you did in the spring?

“For the time being, I may do that in fall camp like I did in the spring.”

What about in the season when games start?

“I don’t know yet for sure.”

Do you feel pressure to win this year?

“No more than normal. It’s the same going in. Every year you feel like a rookie. It’s exciting. I’ve been through enough seasons not to dwell on if you have not done well. It’s more exciting than nerves. Pressure in our world is sell-induced. It doesn’t come from the outside. You want to do well. Ever since I started competing I wanted to win. That’s our approach to the year.”


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