Beavers open fall practices with anticipation
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- With college football season right around the corner, Oregon State running back Steven Jackson was setting the same goals as he did at this time last year.
He wants the Beavers to end the season at the Rose Bowl and he expects to lead the Pacific-10 Conference in rushing.
"We have all the ingredients," he said. "We just have to mix it together."
The Beavers opened fall practices on Monday after a team meeting Sunday night. Oregon State starts the season Aug. 28 at Reser Stadium against Sacramento State.
Jackson was excited to be back at work.
"The first week is pretty fun. You get to get back and meet your teammates and get things started," Jackson said. "You get to learn a new system -- as of this year. But after a while it's like, OK, I want to play some games."
The Beavers' new system that Jackson is learning is courtesy of Mike Riley, OSU's new -- and former -- head coach.
Riley was hired as the Beavers' coach in the offseason when Dennis Erickson left to coach the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.
Erickson had replaced Riley, whose first tenure with the Beavers came in 1997-98 before he left for his own shot in the NFL as head coach of the San Diego Chargers.
When Riley took over at Oregon State, he inherited a program that had won just three games in the combined 1995-96 seasons.
He was 8-14 during his two seasons with the Beavers, but his recruits -- including quarterback Jonathan Smith and running back Ken Simonton -- found ultimate success under Erickson, who finished 31-17 at Oregon State.
In Erickson's second season, the Beavers went 11-1 and went to the Fiesta Bowl where they beat Notre Dame 41-9.
The pressures are different this time around, as Riley takes on a sometimes inconsistent but talented team that was 8-5 last season with a loss to Pittsburgh in the Insight Bowl.
"One of the expectations last time was just hoping to survive," he said.
In all, the Beavers are returning 10 offensive starters and five defensive starters. One of those returnees is Jackson, who ran for 1,690 yards last season. Riley and Jackson were already fielding Heisman questions on Monday.
"He really is a lot of fun to be around. It didn't take long for us to figure out that we have to turn around and give the ball to him," Riley said of Jackson.
Among the other notable returnees are middle linebacker Richard Seigler, receiver James Newson and free safety Mitch Meeuwsen.
With a season's experience, the Beavers should see greater production from quarterback Derek Anderson, who threw for 3,313 yards and 25 touchdowns last year but had trouble against the tough Pac-10 schedule.
Riley said he sees a leader in Anderson.
"He is a tremendous young man -- a hard worker dedicated to get better," Riley said.
Anderson has been equally impressed with his new coach, who he praised as a true professional.
"He knows what he's doing," Anderson said. "And he's going to put us in a situation to win."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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