Head coach Kyle Whittingham answered questions about the 2007 team at the first weekly press conference of the season.
Aug. 27, 2007
Opening Comment: It's finally here. We're three days away from the opener and we're excited. We had a good fall camp and we open the season against an extremely good opponent. They return the second-leading rushing in the Pac 10. He's not big but he's quick and he's fast. We're going to have our hands full, that's for sure.
Will their receiver (Sammie Stroughter) play? We don't know. We're planning on that he plays. And, if he does, that makes them more potent.
Defensively, Oregon State led the Pac 10 in sacks and was one of the top teams in the nation in tackles for a loss.
We feel that our guys are ready to go. We've been erring on keeping our guys fresh during camp, and hopefully that pays dividends. Brian Johnson has looked sharp, and we have 10 returning starters on offense. The secondary was a big question going into camp and they've made strides. We've brought them as far along as we can as a coaching staff but now we need to get them in the game.
I know running back was another big question on this team. Right now, we're going to use Ray Stowers, Darryl Poston and Matt Asiata. Darrell Mack is going to redshirt this year. But, all three will get time in the backfield this weekend and the most efficient runner is going to the most carries.
On the running back situation
We're going to rotate our running backs into the game. Whoever has the hot hand is who we're going to go with. Of course there are situational tactics that come into play too. Darryl Poston is good at pass protection so we will use him in those situations.
On redshirting Darrell Mack
Darrell had a redshirt year still available and it made no sense to burn all of our running backs' eligibility all at once. It spaces our running backs out a bit. Plus, freshman Eddie Wide is going to see some time there this year.
On the personality of the team
We have a great attitude and this team has shown a lot of leadership and a lot of unity. In fact, I've seen more of that this year than I have seen in the last two years. They're a close-knit group. Will it mean more wins? I don't know. We're playing as a team, there are no individuals here. Of course, we have players with star appeal but everyone is playing together as a team.
I haven't seen one specific example of the team's leadership and unity. I've noticed the general relationship between all of the players. They all get a long and that's odd for a Division I team with its size. Usually you get cliques or there are a couple that clash. But, I haven't seen that at all with us.
On how to prepare to play Utah
If I were Oregon State, I would look at the 2005 season. I'd have it cut up, broken down and analyzed. But, they're smart coaches and I'm sure they've already done that. When you look at the offense, the quarterback is what you want to look at.
On quarterback Brian Johnson's return
It's a great time to have Brian Johnson back. However, it's not the Brian Johnson show. It takes 10 other guys to support him. We have a great offensive line in front of him. Zane Beadles has had a seamless transition to the offensive line, and Corey Seiuli is comfortable at guard. We have the right guys at the right spots. I think we have one of the best front lines.
On the production of the running game
Our running game wasn't efficient last year. With Brian Johnson back at quarterback, we expect our running game to be more efficient.
On what will be learnt by playing Oregon State
Every game is important and we go out there to win. But, we put more importance into our conference games. Everyone's non-conference schedule is so different it's hard to judge yourself until you get to the Mountain West Conference games. But, Oregon State should give us a good idea of where we are.
I believe that no one really knows the landscape of the conference until the fourth or fifth week of play. It takes time for the dust to settle and to get a read on who's good and who's not so good.