If it’s possible to mix pride and sheepishness, that’s how Oregon State coach Mike Riley described last season’s Civil War victory over Oregon and it’s fast-tempo spread offense.
“We had a really good defense and we held them to 31,” Riley said.
The Beavers won, 38-31, in double overtime. But the advent of what his archrival is doing brought to mind Riley’s freshman year as a defensive back at Alabama, when coach Paul “Bear” Bryant installed the wishbone in preseason practice in 1971.
“We lost, I think, one regular-season game over the next four years,” Riley said.
It is a verity of the game that football is cyclical. The offense surges ahead and the defense catches up, unless it’s vice versa. Right now, the spread offense played at a fast tempo is at the quarter pole. The defense for it is still loading into the starting gate.
“We’ll see where this thing goes, but I think it will be a while,” Riley said. “It’s very, very good and it hasn’t reached its peak yet. It’s a beautiful thing and a scary thing to watch. What it does, like option football does, it makes a lot of one-on-one tackling. I mean, you put people on islands, and then you strand them. Every time you do that, it’s hard.”