Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 1/28/13
Ncaa-football-pacific
Time to keep things rolling For a coach whose job was supposedly on the hot seat entering the season, Mike Riley has proved all his critics wrong. Rebounding his team from a horrid 2011, Riley’s Beavers finished 2012 9-4 and ranked No. 13 in the BCS. Looking to continue his success—and further cement his role as the best coach in Oregon State history—there’s plenty of ways for Riley to keep the ball rolling into 2013. Pick a quarterback and stick with it The Beavers barely survived the quarterback waffling in 2012, and things need to change next season. Outside of causing a media distraction, Riley’s indecision caused more harm than good. The Beavs brought Sean Mannion back too soon, and ended up suffering their first loss of the to UW. Then they stuck with Cody Vaz for far too long, whose prolonged cold streaks cost the team wins against Stanford and Texas. Time for Riley to close out the great QB debate. (Photo: Greg Wahl-Stephens / AP) Riley played things diplomatic this year, but the pressure will be on to make a decision—and stick to it—in 2013. Recruit, recruit, recruit Riley has enjoyed huge impacts from his recruiting classes the last two seasons, and none were with the level of positive PR earned this season. The Beavers will see some big departures this season, and could see even more next year. If Riley wants to keep his team’s momentum going, there’s no better time than the present to land a big recruiting class. Think of ways to improve special teams OSU had great special teams in 2011, but took a huge step back last season. Jordan Poyer averaged just 6.5 yards per punt return, and the team managed just 18.3 yards per kickoff—though Terron Ward showed some success late in the season. The Beavs were great at pinning opponents with it’s own punting, but couldn’t make any kind of headway on their own returns. Riley needs to find a better way to win the battle for field position heading into 2013. Make conditioning a priority for running backs After a disappointing 2011, Oregon State made head ways with the ground game in 2012. Even so, the one big issue the team faced was keeping it’s players on the field. Storm Woods was a solid contributor, but injuries limited him to just 12 starts and 16 carries per game. Conditioning has been an issue for Riley’s halfbacks since the departure of Jacquizz Rodgers, and it’s time he reexamined team policy heading into next season. Prepare contingency plans The reason OSU was such a surprise in 2012 was because they were dreadful in 2011. And the reason they were so dreadful in 2011 was inadequate planning. The Beavers will see Markus Wheaton and Jordan Poyer exit for the draft this season, and they’ll lose Michael Doctor and Rashaad Reynolds after next season. More frightening are the prospects of losing Scott Crichton and Brandin Cooks next season, as both will be juniors and eligible to leave early for the draft. Though players usually don’t leave the program early, you never know what can happen. Riley needs to have backup plans ready in case of early exits heading into 2014. CHECK OUT THE BEAVERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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