Langsdorf the mastermind of Beavers offense

2009-10-28T21:00:00Z Langsdorf the mastermind of Beavers offenseBy Cliff Kirkpatrick, Gazette-Times Reporter Corvallis Gazette Times

A major transition within the Oregon State football team's structure occurred in the last year, but it went mainly unnoticed because it was so smooth.

Coach Mike Riley gave up the play calling to his offensive coordinator, Danny Langsdorf.

Riley has been known as an offensive coach over the years in college, the NFL and CFL. His college offensive coordinators have been young and used as sounding boards to what he was doing.

Langsdorf, 37, is in his fifth season with the Beavers as the coordinator, and it was a slow process to take over the offense. It occurred in the middle of last season and now the offense belongs to him.

"When guys come into Oregon State, new coaches have to learn our system," Riley said. "He had to do that, too. As he got more and more comfortable with it, it was a major factor for the program in his ability to take over and coordinate it and take over."

The change was a major impact to the way things worked for the coaches, but the players didn't notice much.

Quarterbacks work the closest with the play-callers. Sean Canfield experienced both their styles, and likes both.

"The play-calling is a little different, but I don't know if I could say what it is," he said. "I enjoy playing under Langsdorf calling the plays. It's a lot of fun. We like to throw the ball down the field."

Altering long-time roles wasn't easy for Riley. He called plays since his first stint in 1997-98, and when he returned in 2003 until last season.

Riley stood on the field in games, listen to his coordinator sitting in the coaching booth giving him advice and made split-second decisions.

The chess game was a thrill, which made letting go hard.

"I don't know if I really like it, but I know it's the best," Riley said. "Getting to that spot takes a lot of time. With the whole program in mind, and working with as many parts as I can, I didn't want that to get in the way."

Riley may call the plays again, but only if he ever has to break in a new offensive coordinator.

"I do miss it," Riley said. "Maybe I'll do it again some time. But for the time we've done it, we've been very successful."

Langsdorf became an extension of Riley over the years, which made the transition easier. The offense evolved under them together, adding the fly sweep and other wrinkles to fit the personnel.

He pitched new ideas such as the trendy wildcat formation, and became more than an up-and-coming coordinator. Langsdorf arrived.

"It has been a good experience," Langsdorf said. "Now I'm more comfortable, and I'm better off now. Any time you get to do more things with a team, it's a positive. Anybody in any job would keep asking for more responsibility."

Langsdorf prepares the game plans in all the game situations on his own, which Riley did before with Langsdorf. Riley stays out the way, but does often help.

What's impressive about Langsdorf has been his work ethic. He jumped into his position, coached the quarterbacks and helped the other offensive assistants.

Veteran coaches and younger ones have been on the staff with Langsdorf, and he worked well with all of them.

"Since Day 1 coach Langsdorf has known everything," Canfield said. "There isn't anything about football that he doesn't know. The amount of work he puts in is crazy. I don't know of anyone who puts in more work than him. He runs off coffee all the time."

During games suggestions from Riley come between a series. He doesn't want to be disruptive.

Riley was left alone when he was an offensive coordinator, and knows it doesn't help when the head coaching is second-guessing everything.

So he had to find the right person to trust.

"When you are calling plays you have very little time for anything else," Riley said. "You don't have time to talk with the defense. It's all about calling plays."

Now Riley can watch, advise players and coach all areas of the game. He helps out defensive coordinator Mark Banker and special teams coordinator Bruce Read more.

Much of his work is before the game looking at opponent film. He watches the game unfold more, and is Langsdorf's sounding board.

"It's a game management position," Riley said. "And I still have a sense with what defenses are doing and what will be good."

One perk for an offensive coordinator under Riley had been you don't get the criticism when the offense struggles.

Langsdorf is now the one people will question with each play call that fails. That's nothing new; he played quarterback in college.

"You take the good and the bad," Langsdorf said. "There are going to be hard days. Any time you win things are good, when you lose people need somebody to blame. It's like playing quarterback. That's part of the position. I don't worry about that. I believe in what we are doing, so I have to stick to what I know and what I believe in and what we are doing as a system."

Now that Langsdorf has taken the offensive reins he is on his way to becoming a head coach one day.

Riley groomed him for his latest responsibility. He's also helping be prepared for the final step by being a mentor.

For now though, Langsdorf is happy to play a more important role. Taking on the added work makes it harder to leave for another job.

"Getting to do more, it makes you appreciate being here," Langsdorf said. "You can't be in a better situation than working for our head coach. I don't have any desire to be anywhere else."

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

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