Pitt Football: Coaching aide offers Oregon State insight
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Pitt (9-3) and Oregon State (8-4) play in leagues based on opposite coasts, don't share common opponents and have only met once, so preparation for the Sun Bowl will be tricky because it is going to be based on breaking down videotapes.
But the Panthers may have a bit of an edge because one member of their staff is familiar with the Beavers and the schemes favored by Oregon State coach Mike Riley.
First-year Pitt graduate assistant Scott Turner worked at Oregon State under Riley during the 2005 season, which was his first year as a coach.
Turner had graduated from UNLV, where he was a three-year varsity letterman in football, earlier that season and Riley offered him his first opportunity to get into coaching in June of that year and Turner worked at Oregon State until the following May.
Turner, who is the son of San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner, said the Beavers and Panthers are far more similar than different.
He said that's especially true when it comes to the two head coaches, Riley and Pitt's Dave Wannstedt, because both come from NFL backgrounds.
The main difference, of course, is that Riley is an offensive coach. Wannstedt specialized as a defensive coach.
"They are both definitely no-nonsense guys," Turner said. "They come from opposite sides of the ball but they are very similar at the same time. Both of them really care a lot about their players, more than anything, and they both care a lot about their programs.
"Coach Riley didn't go to Oregon State, but he grew up in Corvallis [where the school is located], and so, like coach Wannstedt who went to Pitt and grew up here, the city and the school are very important him. It is more than just a football team.
"You can tell that it means more to them because, like coach Wannstedt, coach Riley is a very fair-minded coach and he treats his players and everyone around the program very well. Their success is important to him. They both care about more than just the X's and O's and that's what makes it nice for a young guy like me to have the opportunity to work for both of them."
Turner said he doesn't know how much scouting intelligence or insider information he can give the Panthers' coaching staff because many of the players have changed since he worked at Oregon State. The Beavers have different stars they scheme for and rely on to make plays.
He can give his insights about the Oregon State program, the level of play in the Pac-10 and the challenges Pitt will face.
He also has talked to them about life in Corvallis, and how it is much different than life in a bigger city like Pittsburgh. He said that while football may be in the culture in Western Pennsylvania, Oregon State football is a way of life in Corvallis.
And while people talk about rivalry games being intense in these parts and in other parts of the country, he said the Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State should be among the top games on the list.
Turner said Pitt actually would likely fit in well in the Pac 10 because most of the offenses, with the exception of Oregon's, are traditional pro-style offenses. He said that will make preparing for this game a little easier for both teams because they are similar in the philosophy of running the football and using the run to set up play-action passes and taking shots in the vertical passing game.
NOTES -- Wannstedt formally announced yesterday that freshman Shayne Hale (Gateway) has moved from linebacker to defensive end. Wannstedt said Hale had a good scrimmage Monday at defensive end and "has a chance to be real good there." ... Redshirt junior defensive back Dan Cafaro was named a finalist for the Rudy award, which annually goes to a college football player who "demonstrate exemplary character, courage, contribution and commitment as members of their team." The award is named for Rudy Reuttiger, former Notre Dame player and inspiration for the movie "Rudy."
First Published December 17, 2008 12:00 am