Huskies Insider Blog

Know your enemy: OSU head coach Mike Riley's Tuesday press conference

Here's the audio of the full press conference

Opening statement…“We’ve got the Huskies coming to our stadium for our last home game of the year, senior day, all that stuff. This is going to be a tough game. This team has done a very nice job this year. The Huskies have six wins, they’ve played a lot of good football and they’ve shown continued growth in their program since Steve (Sarkisian) has been there. Offensively, they did a very good job of transitioning after Jake Locker. (Keith) Price is a good player and a good athlete with a good arm. He’s throwing for a high percentage; they’re very good on third-down conversion percentage. They’re a well-balanced, effective offensive team.

“Defensively, they’re good in their base and Nick (Holt) gives you a ton of variety. They have a good return game. We’re very respectful of what they do for punt return and kickoff return. It’s a great challenge for our team. It’s going to be a big week for us to see if we can get anything going in the running game. We’ve had very limited production with our inside running game, in particular with our tailbacks. We’ve probably run better with our wide receivers on our reverses and fly sweeps than we have with our tailbacks, there’s no doubt about that. Even though it’s late in the year and we have been an unproductive running team, we’re not going to stop trying to do that for this game. If we are to win, then we’re going to find more balance than we have had in the last three weeks.

“Defensively what we have to really strive for is a more disciplined, detailed run defense. That’s going to be a major factor. Football can be very simple if you can do a good job on first down and second down, and if you can get in the best third down situation, you’ve got a better chance of getting them off the field. That’s what we haven’t done for a good portion of the year, and particularly the last few weeks. That’s going to be a major emphasis for us this week, and then we want to win the kicking game. I’ve been proud of many parts of our kicking game. We’ve had solid punt returns; we had two of our best kickoff returns last week. Brandin Cooks came in and did a nice job. We did that with him since (Jordan) Poyer is so busy with so many things. It wasn’t that we wanted a change in the kickoff returner, we thought Brandin was good and we needed to get him going, and we wanted to take a little bit of the burden off of Poyer. That doesn’t mean we won’t go back to him at some point before the end of the year.”

On defending this year’s Huskies as opposed to last year’s …“There’s a lot of carryover, as far as what they want to do. They have a foundation in the running game. This guy (Price) can do all the stuff they did with Jake. What he did so well against us last year was run the bootlegs and stay on the move. This guy can do that. He’s also a really efficient pocket passer. They haven’t held back a thing because they lost Jake. They continue to expand what they do, and this guy can do any of it.”

On Chris Polk …“I think Polk is one of the best running backs in the league, and one of the best guys that’s been around in the span of his career. Every time you play Washington and he’s their running back, you have to do a good job in that area because that’s where the game is controlled. We’ve really found that out in the last few weeks.”

On the formula to keeping the team’s spirit up…“The formula lies in the overall commitment early. They continue to want to do well because they have invested a lot. There’s been a lot of stuff going, but I think the seniors are good, solid people. If your older guys in the program start deserting you, you’re in trouble. We’re talking about (Kevin) Frahm, James Rodgers, (Cameron) Collins, and (Lance) Mitchell and that group – those guys aren’t going to go away. That’s been a major factor. The young guys are learning all the time; they’re fairly resilient. I think they’re glad to be coming back on Tuesday and practicing again.”

On Johnny Hekker’s year and future…“I’m really proud of him. He’s another guy who signifies what growth can mean, and continued hard work coupled with talent. We’ve known from high school the athletic talent the guy has, and the versatility he has as an athlete. That’s really why we recruited him as a punter. I just talked to Bruce (Read) yesterday – because Bruce has a good handle on whether a guy has a bona fide shot in the NFL to be a punter -- the thing that will separate guys to kick or punt in that league is consistency. Johnny is proving that as we go through this season. That’s a great thing for him for the future.”