Mike Riley Trying To Keep Oregon State Relevant
By John Baker
Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said he sees the talent that the Beavers have, but admitted his group is a long way from being a well-oiled football machine.
That was his impression of the Beavers as the team convened for its first practices this week. While most of practice was spent acclimating the newcomers to the ebb-and-flow of a collegiate practice – and reminding the vets of the same thing – one notable piece of an important equation was missing.
The offensive line, which is being rebuilt this fall, was missing one of its biggest pieces when fall practice commenced – center Isaac Seumalo. The Beavers return Seumalo (foot) and Josh Mitchell (shoulder) from last year’s line, but with both out this spring, a new starting five had to be built.
When practice began Monday, Seumalo was still in a boot as he continued his recovery from a broken foot. Mitchell was back and played center, a position where he started in just three games last season.
That made Oregon's first-team offensive line consisting of Dustin Stanton at left tackle, Sean Harlow at left guard, Mitchell at center, Grant Bays at right guard and Gavin Andrews at right tackle. With Seumalo out, but expected to return, the line looks like it might be a fluid situation with Will Hopkins, Roman Sapolu, Bobby Keenan and several others vying for reps.
Seumalo is an all-conference type of player, but his readiness for camp seems to be a question mark with the only answer being that no one knows when he’ll be ready.
While that question remains, the Beavers did open camp with some good news. Washington State transfer Rahmel Dockery was on the field, having cleared up his transfer requirements. The 21-year-old spent the past year back home in Tacoma, Wash., taking classes at a local community college, working out and looking for another opportunity.
After a review of his transcripts and some anxious moments, Dockery got the OK to practice Monday morning and was on the field a little later. With a ton of inexperience at the receiver position, he has a chance to get in the mix right away. He starts the season as a backup to Victor Bolden at flanker.
Riley said one of the keys for this camp will be preparing the defense to play against all the variations of the spread offense that are springing up around the country. Even within the Pac-12, teams are using the spread in a variety of ways, which makes each a challenge unto itself.
Riley pointed out that making adjustments and staying on top of changes in the college football landscape is a big part of what fall camp is about. For Riley, “staying relevant” is the key to coping with a changing college football landscape every year.