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BEHIND THE SCENES OF BEAVER FOOTBALL



TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Receiver and kick returner Victor Bolden (right), shrugging off a Stanford defender, gets kudos from Oregon State coach Gary Andersen for his speed, blocking, leadership and more.CORVALLIS — There were some nuggets to be gleaned from Oregon State coach Gary Andersen's Monday press conference as the Beavers prepared for Saturday night's home date with Colorado. Among them:

• Indirectly, Andersen acknowledged that the Beavers are lacking in talent, experience and leadership.

"The No. 1 most important thing in winning games is talent," the first-year OSU mentor said. "You have to be able to be talented, and on top of that you want to be experienced, and underneath that you want to have the young kids in your program learn from the right people. Those are transitions we're going through.

"We have to recruit at the highest level to compete at this level. If you don't have talent, it doesn't matter what you draw up, what your schemes are. With the team that is the most talented and coached the right way, you have a good chance (to win)."

Andersen figures he can take as many as 18 players in his first recruiting class next February. Oregon State has 11 verbal commitments. Of those, two carry four-star ratings and seven are considered three-star by Rivals.com.

• Andersen was a defensive assistant through most of his career before becoming head coach at Utah State in 2009. The quality and variety of offenses in the Pac-12 has surprised him.

"I was told that by a lot of defensive coaches when I came into this league," Andersen said. The thrust of the opposing offense "changes every week. Washington State and Arizona both call what they run a 'spread,' but the difference between their systems is dramatic. It's not the same scheme. To have to switch (defensive assignments) every week, that's hard. That's why (player) experience is so important."

• Andersen remains committed to running a spread at Oregon State.

"We'll get into a spot where we'll be able to run the ball effectively with tight ends, but we want to be a spread team," he said. "You have to have a quarterback who can hurt you with his arm, his legs and his mind to win a championship in this league. We came here to get a championship. It seems a long ways away right now -- I get that -- but that is our mindset, to prepare for that in the future."

• Oregon State started five seniors at Washington State, and one of them -- cornerback Larry Scott -- is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle. The Beavers have missed on-field guidance with the lack of upperclassmen, Andersen said.

"Our leadership still has a ways to go in a lot of different areas," he said. "We're still leadership by coaches right now for the most part, and that's where we're at. We have to keep educating these kids. There are a few good leaders, but nowhere where we need to be."

• Andersen offered kudos to one player he considers a leader -- Victor Bolden, who was OSU's offensive and special teams player of the week. The 5-9, 175-pound junior equalled the school record with a 100-yard kickoff return and also caught six passes for 79 yards against the Cougars.

"The return showed his special speed," Andersen said. "He hit the crease. It's going to be there for not very long -- maybe a second, second and a half if it's there. That takes toughness, bravery, maybe a little bit of craziness, to run in there, and he absolutely did. He hit it like his hair was on fire, and -- boom! -- he was shot out of a cannon.

"He had some nice blocks downfield, too. His blocking many times goes unnoticed, but he is physical. It doesn't matter if it's a 240-pound linebacker he has to go crack on, that kid is going to lay it all on the line. That's why he is such a great leader for our team."

• Quarterback Seth Collins ran 22 times for 139 yards against the Cougars -- minus a 15-yard sack. Andersen would like to trim the number of Collins' carries, especially the ones in which the true freshman takes off when he can't find a receiver.

"The planned runs are the good runs," Andersen said. "A quarterback running a planned run play is much safer than having a free hitter come off the edge and hit him on the back of the head for a sack. The scrambles, and all the things out there, are a little concerning to me."

Andersen said more changes are planned to infuse energy into the OSU offense.

"It's not just the quarterback," he said, "it's 11 guys on the field. We'll be strategic and do everything we can and move through the best kids on the roster and give them an opportunity to play. We'll keep flipping it around -- maybe see a few different things on Saturday."

• Gary Crowton's newly assigned role as a consultant for OSU's offense followed his Oct. 5 resignation as Southern Utah's offensive coordinator for "personal reasons." The announcement came as a surprise in that the Thunderbirds were 3-2, having won their last three games by a combined score of 129-10.

Crowton, 58, is a coaching veteran who was Oregon's O-coordinator under Mike Bellotti (and before Chip Kelly) in 2005 and '06. Crowton was O-coordinator for the Chicago Bears in 1999 and 2000 and was head coach at Brigham Young from 2001-04. Crowton and Andersen ran in the same circles when he was a Utah assistant during that time period, but the Crowton connection stems from his relationship with OSU quarterbacks coach Kevin McGiven.

"They're (like) family," Andersen said. "Kevin communicated with me and asked if Coach Crowton could come (to Corvallis) for a little bit. I have a ton of respect for him. He has some time on his hands, and he's excited about the opportunity to be around our program."

Andersen said he often will ask an experienced coach to offer an appraisal.

"I'll ask someone to come in a couple of times a year for maybe four days, sometimes to evaluate me, to see how I am around the kids," Andersen said. "I don't want to bring somebody in who says everything is great. "Coach Crowton has such a great knowledge base. He wants to be here; he wants to help. I think it's pretty cool he wants to be part of us. Another set of eyes and tremendous football brain does not hurt, and he's always been fantastic with kids."

Andersen said he isn't sure how long Crowton will stay in Corvallis.

"He may be here for 10 days; he may be here for another six, seven, eight weeks," Anderson said. "I want him to be here as long as he feels comfortable -- or as long as his wife will let him stay, I guess."

• Each week, the OSU coaching staff cranks out a "plan-to-win" strategy that is displayed in the team room and the coaches office at Valley Football Center.

Against Washington State, "We didn't hit one of those plan-to-win goals in the first half," Andersen said. "In the second half, we hit every one of them. I've never seen it be 100 percent for a game and have my team lose, or go oh-fer for a game and see my team win."

Andersen said OSU's defense held the Cougar offense scoreless in the second half primarily because of improved tackling.

"We covered better, and we played the edges of the defense better," he said. "But ultimately, we tackled so much better. Tackling is athletic ability, strength and technique. We need to put all three of those together."

• Nick Porebski took off on his own on fourth-and-3 in the second quarter against Wazoo, resulting in a six-yard loss and the Cougars taking over on the OSU 14.

"It was not a fake," Andersen said. "The kid didn't do exactly what he was supposed to do. We'd like to have seen it kicked. I've got to help him and get him to kick the ball and not make that decision. It happened, and we always have to blame that on us, as coaches, not on kids."

Porebski, a sophomore transfer from Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, already has had a couple of forgettable moments in his first FBS season. Porebski was the one who was tackled after the high snap against Michigan that resulted in a 94-yard turnaround for the Beavers.

But Porebski has done a solid job for the most part, and Oregon State ranks second in the Pac-12 in net punting (taking into account returns) with a 40.4-yard average.

• Scott seems certain to miss at least Saturday's game against Colorado. Defensive tackle Jalen Grimble, who has played sparingly this season after knee surgery, could return to duty. D-tackle Ali'i Robins, who also missed the WSU game, also is unlikely to play Saturday due to injury.

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