The Pac-12 media day was held on Tuesday, and every program in the conference came together at Universal Studios to discuss their hopes for the coming season, their successes in the offseason, and the keys to winning in 2012. The Oregon State Beavers were represented by head coach Mike Riley, wide receiver Markus Wheaton, and cornerback Jordan Poyer. The video of the press conference is below:
What can we take from this press conference?
1. The Beavers haven’t forgotten their recent struggles
Many teams try and put last season out of their mind, especially if it was a struggle. Not so much with the Beavers, though. Riley recognizes that it’s been “a couple of disappointing years,” at OSU but he’s looking for their fortunes to get turned around. Wheaton openly admitted that the 3-9 campaign in 2011 fuels this team now and that as a team they “look back on that a lot,” for motivation. It won’t be easy for Riley’s team, as the coach calls the conference as competitive as he’s seen it from top to bottom. With four new coaches entering the fray, it’ll present some unknown challenges for the Beavers, but challenges that Riley feels optimistic about his team meeting because he’s got a “good vibe” about this team.
2. Oregon State needs to find their running game
The Beavers have traditionally been a program that sports a single featured back, but the depth chart isn’t nearly as clear heading into next season. Coming out of spring ball, the team had a number of backs who played well, according to Riley, which muddies the picture on how the carries will get divided up. Either way, the goal for the ground is game is 1,800 yards, says the head coach, and he’s not particular about whether or not they come from one guy or from a whole barber-shop quartet. The bottom line, says Riley, is that this team needs to run the ball better this season (the finished 118th in the country last season), as the running game keys everything that the Beavers want to do in their offense. They could get some help on their offensive line, as Riley updated the media on the status of junior college transfer Stan Hasiak, saying that he was in the final stages of finishing his requirements to transfer for next season.
3. The defense will key the Beavers season
With so many question marks on the offensive side of the ball, it’s little surprise that Riley picked the strength of the team from the defense by touting the secondary as one of the strengths of the team. He also noted the strength of the defensive line, particularly Scott Crichton who broke out last season as a redshirt freshman as he made 76 tackles (15 tackles for loss) and six sacks and was named to the preseason All Pac-12 Second Team and was listed on the Lombardi Award watch list. Riley isn’t surprised by the sophomore’s success, and commends him, along with defensive end Dylan Wynn, for getting into the weight room during the offseason and improving their numbers “substantially,” providing optimism for a strong follow-up campaign.
The Beavers are not going to be anyone’s pick as a dark horse in the Pac-12 this season as they look like a team that is still trying to gather up enough pieces to win some games in a hyper-competitive conference. Making matters worse, as they’ve taken a downturn in success, their rivals right next door in Eugene have turned into a national power. Mike Riley had better hope his “good vibes” pan out, or he may be out the door at Oregon State.
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