11.Jan.2014 Riley Gives Play Calling Back to Langsdorf

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And the results are the most balanced attack all year?

Riley will spend the offseason thinking about how he will handle play-calling next season.

The OSU coach took over calling plays from offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf a couple of years ago.

But after the Beavers’ 69-27 loss to Washington on Nov. 23, Riley switched gears, handing the play-calling back to Langsdorf.

“I thought with where we were as a team, I needed to step back,” Riley says. “As far as the whole team and what I needed to do coming off the Washington game, I thought it was a move it would be wise for me to make. The preparation for calling plays is enormous. I thought we’d be better served with Danny doing it and with me focusing on all the other things we need to do in terms of game-planning. And Danny did a great job.”

In the last two games — a 36-35 loss at Oregon and the 38-23 win over Boise State at the Hawaii Bowl — the Beavers were more balanced than they’d been all season, running the ball very effectively.

On the surface, it would seem as if Langsdorf was more willing to run than was Riley. It’s true, to a point. But Riley was between a rock and a hard place. Poor run-blocking had left the Beavers in too many second- and third-down and long situations. Plus, the passing game, led by Mannion and Cooks, was so productive, Riley knew he could count on moving the ball through the air.

I don’t like this back and forth. We know Langsdorf was horrible in this role just a few years ago. Now he has two good games, and it throws confusion into the equation. It sounds like Riley did it because he was burnt out, but he goes on to say Langsdorf did a great job, implying he might call plays next year. Is it possible to grow and change as a play caller? I really have no clue. It seems like a feel thing that you either have or you don’t. But Riley’s play calling was all over the map this year, so maybe you can lose it. In Riley’s case I think he got caught up in the team having a “passing identity“.

Also, is it possible Riley called those games, yet he’s just trying to protect Langsdorf so he doesn’t have to fire anyone this off season? Anyone see Riley holding a play sheet (or any other possible proof) during either game?

 

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  • Jeff says:
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    Calling plays is anything but a “feel thing”
    I think Riley uses “feel” too often.
    Calling plays is a science, you scout the defense, get their tendencies and attack those tendencies. A proper game sheet is very specific about what should be called and when and its all based on scouting. I hate this idea that people have about play calling being a “feel thing”, its not.

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      I wholeheartedly agree. This is like playing blackjack by feel, a seriously losing proposition in the long run. Do your homework, then trust what you’ve invested into your play sheet.

    • angry angry says:
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      Yeah but knowing whether to pass or run on a 3rd and 1 is a feel thing, based on what’s actually happening on the field that day.

      • Jeff says:
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        Sort of, you should have formations and plans for both a pass and run on 3rd and 1 based on the tendencies you have seen on tape and use the tendencies you’ve seen during the game to make the decision.
        Not sure I’d call that “feel”. More like using your preparation to prepare for multiple possibilities and selecting the one that fits what you’ve seen that day. Still more scientific than feel IMO.
        Now, that doesn’t mean feel never plays a part, if its a 50/50 situation than sometimes it comes down to feel but that is not common.

        • whiskey soaked naokins says:
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          So much this. How many times this past season did we have 3rd and 2 or 3 and lined up with Mannion in the shotgun with an empty backfield? And when your QB is not a threat to run, this is telling the defense half of what it doesn’t know. It’s stupid

  • Mb says:
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    Me needing to do the other things that go into game planning? Is that like trying to find the phone number for the nearest In N Out? At $2 mil per year, how difficult or involved can it be to put together 12 game plans? When you do not innovate or try new stuff, when your offensive and defensive play books are 10 years old, when the majority of the team has spent a year redshirting (game planning), how much work can it be?

  • Jack says:
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    I don’t quite get it. Riley is saying he’s a really bad coach? This is one major sword to fall on if that’s what he’s doing. It may be noble, but that doesn’t make it not a sword.

    “But Riley was between a rock and a hard place. Poor run-blocking had left the Beavers in too many second- and third-down and long situations.”

    I read this 15 minutes ago, and I can still hear bullshit alarms going off down the street. The play-by-play and the numbers do not support this lie one iota. There was no will to run. Therefore, we sucked at running the ball.

    Period.

    It’s like these people think there are no DVRs or online box scores in this world. Why do people try to change the narrative in the face of such blatant evidence? It’s like hearing some politician claim s/he did not say that thing that was recorded live and now available to all who are interweb savvy.

  • Beavblazer Beavblazer says:
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    Sometimes, when I dont want to do a specific chore around the house, i make sure to do a shitty job of it to show its a bad idea to have me on that task. We know Riley has been tying to hand off play calling for years, so maybe he sandbagged the UW game so Langsdorf would look better than him in contrast the next week? Riley and his mind games….

  • Dwill03 Dwill03 says:
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    Off the wall thought: Most were thinking Langsdorf was a good play caller the first few years as the OC, inserted fly sweep, more dynamic etc.. Then 10′ and 11′ happened, and after much criticism Riley took over play calling. Maybe in 10′ and 11′ the teams just sucked and it didn’t matter who was calling the plays? With the horrendous line play nothing worked. Just a thought.

  • Numbers says:
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    I noticed Langsdorf’s play calling tanked about the exact same time his first kid was born. And now that I have a son of my own I see my theory being very valid.

    • Alex says:
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      I thought the same thing when I read that. Huge distraction, no way around it.

  • oneoldbeav says:
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    Several angles to this intriguing topic, thanks for posting it Angry.

    1) I doubt this has anything to do with “trying to protect Langs…” because as long as Riley is there Langs needs little protection. It’s not like BDC or the local press is on the job in this area.

    2) I’m with Jeff and JtheB, good play calling results from knowing your opponent and your own team combined with the ability to think ahead and to think reasonably quickly. This is one reason I’ve wondered if the Beavs benefited at all from the advance scouting which Locey was assigned to do.

    3)I haven’t seen any evidence one way or the other, but I’d be pleased to learn that Riley made this decision because he looked at the overall posture and (lack of) enthusiasm right after the UW debacle and decided he needed to take more overall control.

    4)When Riley said he was calling plays over the last couple seasons I think we did see more going for it on 4th and short than when Langs was the play caller. I’m in the camp which believes Riley was actually calling plays (prior to UofO/BSU) partly for this reason. OTOH, it is still puzzling that he claimed to want to run but didn’t for so much of the season…probably (like leaving starters in too long) he didn’t have confidence enough to abandon the pass which seemed to be working.

    5)I’m not near Jack’s neighborhood, but even here the bullshit alarms are still loud and clear! .

    6)I note that all this info about play calling was reported by Eggers after the same conference call in which Lindsay claims to have asked the majority of the questions; yet, as far as I’ve seen, neither she nor Horowitz thought it worthwhile to include the topic in their reports.

    7)One last thought on the “science” of play calling. In addition to scouting the opponent and knowing your own team, there needs to be a commitment to some basic principles………as in the system adopted by Kevin Kelley at Pulaski High in Arkansas. We’ve discussed it before, but in many field positions planning on 4 downs to move the chains rather than 3 makes the most sense (kinda like JtheB’s blackjack reference). But then, where does commitment to any system lead to detrimental predictability?

    Gotta go work out now, my head hurts!….damn bullshit alarms!

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    FROM: The Desk of Marketing Genius BDC

    TO: Corvallis area senior citiizens….aka Beaver Nation

    Tonight’s basketball game is billed as an Early Bird Special! The 5:00 tip-off will allow you to attend the game and still get home to bed by 8:00.

    For those that haven’t been to a basketball game since the glory days of the 80’s and Ralph Miller we have made a number of improvement to Gil Masoleum, as we affectionately call the old girl.

    Remember those long lines and difficult parking? Today you may park within easy walking or wheelchair distance from our adjacent empty parking lots.

    Enjoy a pregame meal from our redesigned concession stands. New offerrings include; stewed prunes on a stick and an assortment of easily digestible low salt snacks.

    The game itself provides a quite and restful place to relax. Forget the annoying screaming and yelling of the “old days.” Now it is usually quite enough to nap by the middle of the second half.

    As a special treat tonight’s extended halftime, to allow bathroom visits, will be a delightful tribute to Lawrence Welk.

    There may be some annoying student types at the game. They tend to arrive late and leave early. Especially rowdy youngsters are ejected from both Gil and the university. That will teach those whippersnappers a lesson.

    As you may know, our coach is the President’s brother-in-law. For many of you that have never seen a president in person, this may be the next best thing. While the President will be in office until 2017 I would urge you to take advantage of this opportunity now. (If you get my…drift.)

    Finally as a bonus after the game all of tonight’s attendees will be automatically entered to win a deluxe walker, complete with basket and tennis ball footie upgrade. You need not be present or even alive to win.

    • angry angry says:
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      Will there be a raffle?

    • Beavblazer Beavblazer says:
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      Reminds me of a game I attended whole at school in the late 90’s. I went to the restroom at halftime and was standing at the urinal between two old 80+ guys. As I was relieving myself I felt something hit the top of my shoe. Looked down and somehow the old guy to my right had such poor urine flow control that he ended up letting his stream target my foot instead of the urinal 6 inches in front of him. I didnt know what to do, can you really get upset at an 80 year old, likely WWII vet? I was wearing brown leather shoes and it left a wet mark on top of my shoe, so when I Got back to my seat I had to explain to the people I was with that I really didnt piss on my own foot.

    • rsteve503 rsteve503 says:
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      What IS with a 5pm game? Is this a TV timeslot thing? Seems like a terrible time for maxing attendence.

  • Denial says:
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    Angry, this was the first thing I saw on Twitter this morning:
    ?@KenGoe http://angrybeaver.com wants to know who was calling the plays for Oregon State at the end of the season? http://angrybeavs.com/football/9917

    So obviously the reporters are looking at this site. Good. Maybe BDC and others will realize there are some fed up people.

  • MrChow says:
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    YES ! Great news to hear; nobody, and I truly mean NOBODY can settle for the FG in the Red Zone better than Langs. I think this is really swell news that the HC Smiley can’t make up his mind or is too inept to realize that NEITHER of them should be calling plays. The O has basically sucked against good competition since Chryst left. What a learning opportunity…. On the conspiracy theorist side, Riley knows that even with Mannion back next year he will at best be mediocre, likely 5 or 6 wins, and now he has bought another year with a scapegoat already set up to go. Brilliant Smiley.

  • Mud&Sticks Mud&Sticks says:
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    Well, Jack and others have beat me to the BULLSHIT call so I’m left with wondering yet again if perhaps Mr. Riley has an issue with dementia.

    Someone gave Langsdork good marks for his play calling in his early days as OC. Personally I don’t go along with that. What I remember is complaints about being too predictable, etc. etc.

    Also, does Riley really expect us to believe that he was calling the plays when he was empty handed on the sidelines? I can’t help myself, I gotta say it: BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    First things first. BDC needs to be fired!

    Come on Dr. Ray, get off your ass and do it.

  • whiskeysoakednapkins says:
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    “Also, is it possible Riley called those games, yet he’s just trying to protect Langsdorf so he doesn’t have to fire anyone this off season?”

    This was my initial thought as well. But I have no insider knowledge

  • Denial says:
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    Why doesn’t Riley just retire?
    It’s obvious to me and a lot of other fans that he has no PASSION for the game anymore. He seems like he is just going through the motions. He is doing a disservice to all these young men who do have the passion and heart to play and be the best.
    You look into his eyes and it seems like no one is home. We’ve been wondering for a couple years if he is okay. My mother-in-law even wonders what is wrong with him. Is he sick? Is he hiding an illness? Is he having personal problems?

  • ObjCritic says:
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    Riley’s dedicated to the “pro offense,” but other than the inclusion of the fly sweep in ’06(?), hasn’t done much to put his stamp on it. To put it in his own terms, “what’s his identity?”

    I love how somebody here pointed out that pro systems are now integrating spread and read-option elements. Hell, even Belechick at NE reportedly met with Chip Kelly a few years back to learn about means to speeding up the offense. Now Riley is talking about taking a “Patriot Approach” and running more out of the shotgun, something Angry suggested several years ago.

    I watched some NFL football this weekend, and yes, these are the best players in the game, but the variety in play calling, the quickness in either going no huddle/hurry up or strategically using time THEN running a quick hitting play, all felt nothing like Riley’s “pro” approach to the game.

    Next year’s team will be well-stocked with TE’s, a stable of capable running backs, a few with above average physical ability in my opinion (Brown, Haskins), relatively young WRs, and an experienced QB. Would it be so difficult, or counterproductive, to borrow some TE heavy sets from Stanford or the Philadelphia Eagles? Quick hitting passes out of shotgun instead of slow, long-developing routes?

    The riley-loving local media talk about Riley’s offense being the one in the conference that is now difficult to prepare for – as opposed to spread or read-option offenses – because it is so “different” than what several other conference teams run. The implication being that Riley has stuck to his system so long, it now, in cyclical fashion, offers a competitive advantage. But it seems to me his lack of “customization,” or growth, make those suggestions pure bullshit. After game 7, nobody seemed to have much trouble preparing for it.

    Riley is so slow to adapt, looking at other examples really does make you wonder if the game has “passed him by.”

    Hell, teams like USC just seemed to sit on the routes of Riley’s “complex pro system;” the predictability rendering the “complexity” ineffective.

    I suggest that unless the system is meaningfully revitalized with some new packages, it won’t matter who is calling plays when OSU faces the upper half to third of the conference.

    • ObjCritic says:
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      Riley need not look at NE just to borrow a few plays, but for philosophy and how to adapt play calling to personnel:

      “The Patriot Way is any way.

      Watch the 53-yard pass from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola Saturday night in the rout of Indianapolis. Know why it happened? Colts safety LaRon Landry got sucked up by the threat of another run by New England, another reminder that these aren’t the aerial Patriots. These are the ones who can crush your spirit with a 46-carry, 234-yard, six-touchdown game.

      So what’s happened to New England? Is this a permanent change, some nod to Tom Brady at 36 not being the thrower he once was?

      Not at all. Not even close.

      The Patriots are doing what they’ve always done under Bill Belichick: what works.

      The top five receivers from last year, from Welker to Woodhead, are gone. The tight ends are gone. In their place, at least Saturday, were these men, who played the most snaps of any players in their position group out of New England’s 75 offensive plays against the Colts:

      Position Player No. of plays Stats How acquired
      WR Julian Edelman 68 6 catches, 84 yards 7th-round Kent State option QB, 2009
      TE Michael Hoomanawanui 74 1 catch, 7 yards Signed after being cut by Rams, 2012
      RB LeGarrette Blount 28 24 carries, 166 yards, 4 TDs Acquired for RB Jeff Demps, 2013
      FB James Develin 35 1 carry, 0 yards Undrafted Brown Univ. DE, 2013

      There were times Saturday night that Develin or Hoomanawanui were split wide. Not to give the impression that they’d run a wideout’s route, but simply to lessen the traffic in the middle of the field so the Colts couldn’t plug the box with eight men. Add to this the fact that the New England line is playing well, with Logan Mankins and Nate Solder leading the way, and you can see why the Patriots are comfortable letting Blount be the leading man.

      You’d never think the Patriots would be a running team, with Tom Brady playing quarterback. But even in the face of a strong Denver run defense led by the ex-Jag Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them continue the running streak. Blount hadn’t had an 80-yard rushing game this year before Week 17. He lit up the Bills for 189 yards that day, and kept it going Saturday night with 166 against Denver. With a mashing offensive line averaging 316 pounds, and the lead-blocking of the 251-pound Develin, this is what the Patriots do best now—particularly when the weather turns the way it did Saturday night.

      It’s a tribute to Belichick, and to his offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels (and to Brady, quite frankly, because he won’t squawk about turning and handing it off 46 times), that the offensive transition hasn’t grounded the team. When Belichick looks back on his career, whatever happens Sunday in Denver, he’ll know that this season defined what he was as a coach. He did what the skill level of his 53 players called for him to do. He forced no square pegs into round holes. It’s the definition of what a good coach is.”

      http://mmqb.si.com/2014/01/13/peyton-manning-tom-brady-monday-morning-quarterback/2/

      I re-watched highlights of the Stanford game the other day. In my view, the turning point in the Beaver’s season. There was some inspired defense; sacks, fumbles caused/recovered and returned, a nice defensive stand to force Stanford to punt, nice punt return by Cooks and several nice runs-after-the-catch, an inspiring run by Ward, all undone mainly by Riley’s play calling (going on 4th five times, getting one).

  • Bill says:
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    Taking a whole different look at this, does anyone think Riley was really calling the plays? Most head coaches who also call the plays, have a play card with them. I can hardly remember Riley having a playcard in front of him. My guess is Langsdorf was calling the plays and Riley over ruled him when he thought it was a bad call. Or gave him direction on the type of plays to call.

    • Beavergopher Beavergopher says:
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      I’ll buy that theory, but it’s not too hard to remember 6 or 7 plays.

  • ObjCritic says:
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    OT – S-I on early draft entries – this year’s class of early entries will exceed last year’s record of 74. Really, these guys watch colleges make billions and want to move on and make some too?!?

    OK, mainly rhetorical question, but why is Coly Lyerla, listed as from “Oregon” for early draft entries? He left the team. He left the school. He has no school affiliation by the time he “declared.”

    Funny to see Seastrunk and DAT both in the RB class; I bet Seastrunk does better in the NFL. Unless Thomas can really add weight, I just don’t seem him being able to hold up to the hits in a 16 game season, even if used sparingly as a specialist. I will be curious to see how his speed advantage is decreased in the pros. Several good looking RBs in this class; a team could get a very nice back without using to have a high draft pick.

    Lots of competition at the WR spot. Cooks may slip below the 3rd round based on the intersection of team needs and relatively high WR availability. I think whoever gets him will end up being very happy with him. Watching his highlights against Stanford this past year, the route running, hands, moves after catch, acceleration on punt returns…I bet he plays about 10 lbs heavier in the NFL and doesn’t lose his speed. Somebody in here said he could be a steve smith type of player, that’s a nice comparison.

    And one more OT on the subject of pro football – the old Seahawk fan in me thinks a Seattle/Denver Super Bowl would be interesting. The newer cynic is annoyed with Cheatin’ Pete, who ditched USC to avoid the shitstorm, and now seems to have a problem with PEDs and repeat offenders, including one dumb Brandon Browner who will miss out on a Conference Championship certainly, a Super Bowl maybe. Fer god’s sake, your career is likely to be over by 34 – can’t you wait that long to smoke the pot?!? You could move to Colorado or Washington where its legal too…

    I think Harbaugh may be due for a victory in Seattle. As good as Seattle’s record is, they’ve had some letdowns in the quality of their play over the course of their season. Harbaugh LOVES to beat Carrol. Kaepernick and Gore look ready, Wilson looks a little off lately. Too close for me to call, but I won’t be surprised if Harbaugh takes it.

    http://college-football.si.com/2014/01/13/nfl-draft-early-entry-tracker/

    • Jack says:
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      I think the Cooks/Smith comparisons are way off. Smith is a mouthy WR who survives on being scrappy as hell. Cooks is efficient and precise. Teams will be loathe to knock him off routes like they do to Smith because he’s class first, and refs will toss flags second. Smith gets no respect from those who defend him or the refs. If Brandin turns into a chirpy douche like Smith, then let the comparisons fly.

      As for Seattle and San Fran, I wouldn’t be surprised if San Fran wins. But it won’t be because of their offense. Kaepernick is only viable now because his defense puts him on the field. His time is wearing thin as anything resembling an effective QB. He’s been there for how many years? He has no touch, and his wheels will get old. I don’t know if that happens this week. But it will start happening next year. I think much more highly of Wilson. I think he has just maintained for the last two months because he knows he can maintain and still win. He has a lot of tools he hasn’t used in that time. It’s like he’s been playing possum.

      That doesn’t always work well either, if that’s what’s happening. Players can work themselves into a funk intentionally if they “save” their game for too long. I think this game will be one of attrition instead of skill. I just don’t see the pieces for a shoot-out.

      • ObjCritic says:
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        I think the Cooks/Smith comparison was more about size, but Smith’s behavior is a stark contrast.

        • Jack says:
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          He’s more like Wes Welker only bigger, faster and with better hands.

  • ObjCritic says:
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    More of the NE winning culture Riley needs to adopt. Another S-I artcile talks about how NE has no business being in the AFC title game, but is because of the winning culture:

    “That is it, isn’t it? The Patriots will win most of their games because they won’t be the team that makes the mistake that loses it….

    What you can’t underestimate about this Patriots team is how much Brady and Belichick are the two constants in the locker room, creating a culture of mental toughness and no excuses. They’re the daily reminders of the winning standard that’s in place in New England, and of the expectation to uphold it if you’re playing. They don’t really care if it’s a rookie or a 10-year veteran, if you’re in the lineup, you had better produce. No matter if you’re dealing with injuries or the elements in any particular bad-weather game, the standard and expectations do not change.”

    This is what Riley needs more than some running plays out of shotgun formation. It’s frustrating to think Riley may be (finally) looking to a good team, but he’s likely looking incompletely and at the wrong scale: i.e. play packages instead of the culture and processes that produce the packages and how they are successfully implemented.

    Riley needs to institute rigorous peer review processes every off-season and seek reviews/input from model coaching staffs around college and pro football. His review approach seems pretty closed.

    Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20140114/bill-belichick-tom-brady-new-england-patriots/#ixzz2qPPkh9hI

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