Day 5 -- Wrapping Up Bowl Festivities & Readying for the Showdown
Dec. 28, 2012
A pep rally, Rudy’s BBQ Fiesta with trivia and talent contests, team meetings, a head coaches’ press conference, the Alamo Bowl luncheon, a team photo and a walk-through are among the items on the Beavers’ itinerary for the last 24 hours. But things began to slow down this afternoon as all that’s left for the Beavers have left to do is play the game Saturday evening beginning at 5:45 CST.
Beaver Nation is out in force in San Antonio with several hundred fans joining the coaches and players for the pep rally at the Arneson River Theatre on along the River Walk. With players arriving from both teams arriving via the river boats the fans were led by the teams’ bands and cheerleaders. Both head coaches spoke and team captains helped to amp up the crowd. According to most media accounts Beaver Nation “won” the pep rally.
Shortly after the pep rally both teams made their way to La Villita for a BBQ fiesta that featured intra-team trivia competitions and game shows. The event finished with a talent show with one of the Longhorn linemen performing two country songs accompanied by his guitar. For the Beavers, Feti ‘Unga led a group of players including Shaydon Akuna, Scott Crichton, Rommel Mageo, Roman Sapolu, Andrew Seumalo, Isaac Seumalo and Noke Tago in the Haka.
Friday morning brought the final pre-bowl press conference with OSU head man Mike Riley and Texas head coach Mack Brown taking the podium for 30 minutes. Shortly after both teams came together one more time for the kickoff luncheon where both head coaches and the captains from each team addressed the assembled fans and media for the final time before Saturday’s showdown.
The Beavers wrapped up the day with a team photo and walk-through at the AlamoDome getting their first glimpse of tomorrow’s venue.
Matt Riley from OSU’s Sports Video team has been working on a compilation of the latest activities and Ethan Erickson OSU’s team photographer has added several photos to the bowl gallery. Click here to see Ethan’s latest.
Television updates for Saturday’s game: In the event that the New Era Pinstripe Bowl between Syracuse and West Virginia goes long and runs into the Valero Alamo Bowl kickoff, the Beavers and Longhorns will be available on ESPNU until the previous game concludes. In addition, the post-game awards ceremony will air on ESPNU.
HEAD COACH PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES, FRIDAY, DEC. 28, 2012
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to our head coaches' press conference for the 2012 Valero Alamo Bowl. First I'd like to introduce the home team head coach Mike Riley. Just some opening comments, please.
Mike Riley: The home team, huh? Well, we are certainly excited to be here, as I've said many times, and it's -- everything, San Antonio, all the Alamo Bowl people, our sponsors, Valero, this has been just what I knew it would be when our team decided to bring us here, which is really what has happened.
We are looking forward to the ballgame. I have a great appreciation for the University of Texas, the history, the tradition, and particularly Coach Brown. I think he's a tremendous model for our profession. I've watched him for a long time just be a great example for all of us coaches in this world, and he does it right, he does it first class, and one of the best jobs in America.
So we are, for a lot of reasons, excited to be here. Our team has had a good year, and I think that it's really -- for me it's a special story because of where we came from a year ago. You can either continue to go down the tubes or you can fight back, and these kids made a decision to fight back and really -- they were just easy and fun to coach. I've appreciated that from the moment we started our off-season in January.
For all those reasons, we are excited about this opportunity to play the University of Texas and looking forward to the game.
Q. Talk about Jordan and Markus and their last game and sticking with the program and they were at the pep rally last night and what it meant for them to finish strong.
Mike Riley: Well, Jordan Poyer and Markus Wheaton are two really, really good stories, you know, from the moment we recruited those guys they began to set a standard. They're different stories. Markus was highly recruited out of Arizona, and I think primarily his chief recruiter to Oregon State was James Rodgers. They hit it off when Markus visited.
Markus was actually -- he didn't red shirt, he was always very talented, but the thing I'm really excited about, I think Markus embraced college. He actually went with a group of our student-athletes called Beavers Without Borders, went to Guatamala for a week, helped to build a house for a family, came back. I really think it impacted a lot of who he is today, and he just started growing as a player, fun to work with, loves the game, loves to know how to do it better.
And Jordan Poyer came basically unrecruited out of a little fishing town right where Louis and Clark came out of the Columbia River, Astoria, Oregon, one of the oldest towns in the west, and not a lot of football players have come out of there, mostly fishermen and loggers.
But Jordan, we knew him because he had been in our high school camp with his team for about three years, and offered him a scholarship, thought for sure he'd red shirt, he didn't, and he ended up being a good special teams player, then found his niche at corner, and he does everything for us. If we didn't have Jordan Poyer it would take five guys to replace him and probably the most competitive or at least in the top five guys of the most-competitive guys I've ever been around in my life. Loves to play.
Him and Markus were instrumental in the leadership that started in January with this team, and both are like team captains.
Q. Coach Riley, you talked about what a fun and special year this has been, and it's been a feel-good story certainly in Oregon and around the country. Talk about what a win tomorrow would mean to cap it off. I know the players have talked about not be satisfied, but talk about capping off this special year if you can win.
MACK BROWN: Do I need to step out? It's really tough to sit up here and hear, isn't this important for you to win? Well, yeah. (Laughter.)
Mike Riley: It is -- for this team, we have kind of managed to -- when you're coming off of 3-9, you certainly don't look at too big of a picture down the road when you begin. So this team has done a great job of staying in the moment and playing, practicing for each ballgame. They haven't all worked out, obviously, but that's been -- I think this team likes football. They like to practice and prepare and like the process, which is -- for us as coaches, that's a good world to be in.
You know, I think that this game, it's a tremendous reward for a good season. I feel like, Mack alluded to it, we also use it as a kickoff for the upcoming season. A lot of young guys work during the bowl preparation. So it's a great time for a football program.
And there haven't been, in the history of our school, very many double-digit win seasons. I think two others. So if we can do that, then we make another place in our football history at Oregon State.
All those kinds of things are good, but playing the game, competing against the University of Texas and doing everything we can to win, that just brings it down to the process of playing football. You hope when they put the ball down that your team is ready to compete.
Q. Mike, you always talk about the resolve your players showed after last season to have something better this year, but what about the coaching staff? There must have been some serious meetings after that season about changing things or whatever, but how was that for the coaching staff?
Mike Riley: Well, you know, all those kinds of things in football or in sports are hard like that, so I -- so you basically, with your staff -- and I've had real nice continuity. I have Mark Banker. Our defensive coordinator and I have coached every game together at Oregon State through the 12 years, and I know Mark well, and Bruce Read has been my special teams coach for a long time. And Danny Langsdorf has been with me for a long time. So we take a look hard look at the evaluation of what we need to do strategically football-wise, what we might need to do in all the other areas of our program, and we tried to examine all of it, and you have to I think be willing to make some changes. We had to look at our team real hard and decide, okay, these guys have a chance to be the play makers for us, how are we going to get them the ball, they have to get the football for us to be good, and all sorts of things like that.
And then we also looked at defensively -- we've been real good defensively and then dropped off badly, and we looked at what's missing here, and so we've been more multiple defensively as far as substitution defenses with nickel and dime than ever before, and it's given us a couple more curve balls defensively that I think have really, really helped. But I think the biggest thing there is development of players and teaching players how to play, and that's what I like most about football, most about our coaching staff is they take a lot of pride in teaching, and so we were challenged with 3-9 and trying to do the best teaching job of our life, so I'm proud of them for that part of it because of all the stuff, schemes, plays, all that, I think how to play and teaching guys how to play and developing players is really what we're supposed to do.
Q. Along with the impetus your staff put in development, also talk about what the seniors did after the end of the season during spring practice and also the summer in trying to get the team back on the rails and really work together as far as setting the stage for the season.
Mike Riley: Well, I think it's difficult to have a turnaround or to make progress if you don't have the older guys in your program in a position of setting that example. I think it can be done, but I think it's more difficult, and so I think we started a year ago two freshmen defensive ends, and so you can see those kind of guys working hard, developing if they have all the right stuff around them, and they're good guys. They want to get better and work hard.
But I think what Andrew Seumalo, what Jordan Poyer, what Markus Wheaton, what they did as senior players that are good -- they're good players, and they're out there working real hard. I understand Markus had his own personal two-a-days all summer and grabbed quarterbacks and go -- all that kind of stuff. I think it's a great sign. You don't want to be too crazy about what might happen, but I told all of our folks as we went into the year, I've got a pretty good vibe about this group because everything looks good. We've got to go play now, but I think that really they set the tone in the off-season, spring ball, summer workouts, fall camp was outstanding, and then they went and played. And that was all good stuff.
Q. You said after practice this week you felt the Pac-12 might be on the cusp of being the second best conference presumably I guess behind the SEC --
Mike Riley: That's why I said maybe. I just feel like our conference has really grown, and I've seen it for a long time even taking it back to the Pac-8 back in the day, and seeing a lot of changes and seen a lot of good football through the years, but it just seems like with the addition of Utah and Colorado going to the Pac-12 and then the competition within these divisions, it's really been -- I think the football has all been amping up. You take what UCLA did this year coming in and Arizona with Rich Rodriguez going in there and of course Jim Mora at UCLA and Todd Graham at Arizona State, and those are all pretty good football programs, but they just -- all those teams rose up this year, and they had good players in the program already and they just grew as first-year programs. So you can see this thing kind of all amping up a little bit.
Q. I wonder after the Baylor-UCLA game --
Mike Riley: Yeah, bowl games are interesting, and it all comes out -- I think the picture clarifies, and that was very, very interesting, though.
Q. Mike, your impressions of Cody Vaz, that first start in Provo, Utah, can you talk about that day and what that meant to your program?
Mike Riley: Well, I think it was a big day for the Beavers and a great day for Cody. I've always respected Cody as a young man and as a quarterback, and I've always wondered about him playing, actually. He's been a top competitor to play. We haven't been a team that's alternated quarterbacks through the years, so he really hadn't gotten much of a chance, and when given the chance against a really good BYU defense, I was just impressed in their place. That whole picture of him just going down there and playing really his first significant action and playing with the poise that he did, I was just totally impressed by it. It was neat to see our team's reaction to it, too. They were all happy for Cody because he's kind of been in the background, but I think they all respected not only his ability but also who he was, that he was always just ready to go, and he just proved it.