Interview With the Enemy: OSU’s Sean Canfield at the Senior Bowl

Here is part two of what will be a three-part interview series with the three Oregon players who participated in the Senior Bowl (Blount, Canfield and Ed Dickson).

You may be curious how I was in Mobile, Alabama, and Eugene at the same time on last week.  As good as I like to think I am, I’m not that good.

My friend and former colleague, Jason Roberts, of PRISM Press Group was at Media Night Monday evening at Battleship Memorial Park and was treated to a special interview with Oregon State University’s Sean Canfield. Here, Canfield discusses how he feels after the opening day of practice for the 2010 Senior Bowl, his experiences heading into this week’s events following a successful senior year in Cor valis, and what he believes will draw the attention of NFL scouts during the remainder of this week.

How are you feeling to get out there on the field?

Canfield has a fantastic senior year, winning first-team Pac-10 honors, but had a somewhat tenuous Saturday at the Senior Bowl.

Canfield has a fantastic senior year, winning first-team Pac-10 honors, but had a somewhat tenuous Saturday at the Senior Bowl.

It’s good. It’s been a while and some of my other teammates on the North squad it’s been even  – like guys from Notre Dame who didn’t play in a bowl game — it’s been longer for them so I’m thankful for that, that we were in a bowl game. Yeah, it was good to get the pads back on, get the helmet on and start throwing some routes to some very obvious talented receivers and tight ends and backs and skill players and then on the defensive side guys are flying around in our team periods. I thought the intensity was good and the speed was great. That’s some thing Coach Swartz stresses to the North team. I thought over all the first day was very smooth.

Do you feel it’s difficult making a name for yourself with such quality competition and being in SEC country?

Not at all. Competition is something that I’m used to. I think I learned a lot of good lessons about competition and belief in yourself battling against Lyle with my career at Oregon State and obviously my injury, I learned a lot with that too. It’s great to be amongst the best and that’s where you’d want to be. Showcasing my skills against Tony and Dan and then the scouts go and watch the South – watch Tebow and Zac and Jared – that’s great. We’re all at the top of our games and that’s fun.

What was it like going into the season with a clear shot at being a starter?

Well, it started really in ’08 when a very unfortunate situation for Lyle, when he got hurt and kind of the roles reversed as far as our sophomore year when I got hurt. Him and I are close. He ended up get ting surgery going into the 2009 season, which was obviously a set back for him individually. At that time I was working my ass off and running on my own, lifting and fitness is a big part of what I did in the off season and lost about 15 pounds and I just dedicated myself to be the best that I can be and it turned out to be a great season and here I am at the Senior Bowl. So every week in the year it was just kind of week-by-week it just became more and more reality that I’d get the opportunity to play at the next level. That’s always been a goal of mine ever since I was nine or 10 years old.

What did it mean to you to prove the doubters wrong in your senior season?

It meant a lot. I think early on the doubters kind of discouraged me. I didn’t have the right mentality as a sophomore and then like I said – injury, tough competition with Lyle – it just taught me a lot of good lessons like I said, about belief in your self and having that confidence and inner belief. Some of the scouts have been saying the knock on me is my last year – where were you the first two years and why now – and I’d say better late than never. It was great. I didn’t think about it too much. I said to myself, hey I was injured, was ready to go at any time my junior year backing up Lyle and sure enough he went down and I kind of seized the moment there, at the end of my red shirt junior season. So it was huge for me just to have that opportunity, just to kind of take the reigns there in 2009 and that’s what I did. We were a very, very potent offense I thought – one of the better in the Pac 10.

Not just the Pac 10, though one of the bet ter in the nation actually.

Yeah, we were. We were very efficient. Quiz – Jacquizz Rogers, our running back – he was leading the conference in catches the first eight games or some thing, maybe more than that. Like I said, being efficient was our #1 thing. We were also able to take shots downfield. We weren’t scared to throw it deep with James and Damola Adaniji, who not a lot of people are talking about, but he’s a good can didate for the next level too I think. He’s a tall guy with great hands and better speed than people think. So we had a lot of weapons and everything kind of fit together for me in my senior year.

What role is tight end Joe Halahuni playing in the offense as such a young, good performer?

He’s awesome and halfway through the year I didn’t even know he was a sophomore and I asked them, he’s a junior right? A junior / senior? And they said, no he’s a sophomore and he came on in the SC game. Joe is one of those guys who battled through injury and I know from experience that you learn a lot and I’m sure he did too. But you’re right. There was Tim Ewess and Jonas Newton who were kind of marquis players for us at that tight end position and Coach Riley really utilized the tight end back then and for a couple years we kind of didn’t have that identity so much and then Joe stepped up and every one talks about Joe’s high school high light tape, how crazy it is, he was a receiver. He’s one of those guys who was a receiver and put on some weight, so there’s the athleticism. He’s really a receiver that just got bigger. Like I said, got his opportunity, started, made some great plays against USC – I think he caught five plus balls, ran over Taylor Mays – don’t tell him I said that. He remembers. He was just a weapon for us and we started to run a lot of empty stuff, putting him on isolation routes against line backers. That started with SC, like I said. He just took off with it; he’s a great talent.

How has Mike Riley prepared you for where you are now?

Yeah. He’s done every thing. He’s a great coach; I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else. Just a down to earth guy, a real guy and obviously one of the things that made me come to Oregon State was a pro-style system that he ran with the Chargers. That’s kind of been my development and he’s been very patient with me having my ups and downs early on and then being able to go out on top my senior year and he was there the whole way. A great teacher, obviously knows his X’s and O’s, that goes without saying. Him and my position coach Danny Langsdorf – awesome. They were both there for me. Coach Langsdorf and I came in the same time – spring 2005. They were just great mentors for me, even off the field too. That’s some thing about Riley that he kind of implements in the community with the coaching staff is he’s just a person who cares about people and he cares about his players. It was just a great experience at Oregon State, even considering the lows and the injury.

With the coaching changes at USC does Mike Riley now become the pinnacle head coach of the Pac 10?

Yeah. I think every year there’s two or three coaches that could make their case for it. With what Chip Kelly did in his first year as a head coach – that’s awesome – and he’s calling plays for them and has been but I think the transition for him was probably hard and he did awesome with it, went to the Rose Bowl. Coach Riley’s got our team in the past four years to have winning records, win some good bowl games. Unfortunately, we didn’t beat Oregon and we didn’t beat BYU this last year, but like I said I think Coach Riley – you look over the past 10 years, he’s up there, he’s one or two.

What is it like to have the dynamic pair of the Rodgers brothers on the team? Is there any better pair to have on a team?

Yeah, maybe if they were a little taller. Don’t tell them when they’re here next year – well James might be. I’ve never had the luxury of throwing with a tall receiver; even in high school my receivers were short. The only tall receiver I’ve had – I mean 6’3”, 6’4” – was Damola. But I mean, James – one of those guys who – him and Quiz – very strong, very instinctive, smart foot­ball players. You get a lot of athletic guys but they don’t have it up here, but not those guys. They’ve got it all – minus the height.  Quiz – they’re just work horses. I mean they stay after practice every day it seems and put in the time. They’re just great guys to be around, not about themselves, always for the benefit of the team. James is just an amazing receiver obviously, gets over 1,000 yards, 1st team All Pac 10. Same with Quiz; like I said, Quiz was leading the conference in catches for eight games. Two players I think kind of give credit to Coach Riley and how he’s able to recruit play ers. A lot of big schools – they were out of Texas – maybe kind of over look. Coach Riley kind of finds that quiet talent and I’d consider myself one of those guys too. I wasn’t very heavily recruited, but it’s just been fun working with James and Quiz and I heard they’ve got a younger brother that’s com ing up in the ranks. Rodgers neighborhood.

The three-way Oregon connection:

Make sure you visit http://prismpressgroup.org for more Senior Bowl coverage.

You can reach Jason at jason@prismpressgroup.org.

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Pac-10 Weekend Preview: Possibility for Perfection?

There are only two teams in the Pac-10 in the AP Top 25. Pretty pathetic, considering this West Coast perennial powerhouse prides itself as talented and deserving of BCS births as the SEC and Big 12.  But after a disappointing season last year, the Pac-10 has the makings of a bounce back season, with USC and Cal as the headliners and several other teams on the cusp of contention.

This will be a scene far too familiar for Minnesota's liking tomorrow as Jahvid Best will undoubtedly hit paydirt.

This will be a scene far too familiar for Minnesota's liking tomorrow as Jahvid Best will undoubtedly hit paydirt.

With that being said, this is a big weekend for those teams trying to hang with the big boys out west, especially for the Oregon schools, each of whom host ranked opponents this Saturday. Meanwhile, Arizona and UCLA face second-tier teams from BCS conferences, where wins would go a long way in proving the overall strength of the conference.

I really like all of the matchups for the Pac-10 this weekend, and aside from the one intra-conference   game between USC and Washington, which could actually be highly entertaining (now that U-Dub has finally won a game for the first time in 16 tries – sorry, as an Duck fan I had to get in a cheap shot), I would not be surprised if the Pac-10 finishes with a perfect Saturday.

On to the games:

#8 Cal @ Minnesota – A matchup of golden animals, how cute. After barely knocking off Syracuse and Air Force, the Golden Gophers face their first true test of the season. Even with the home field advantage of their snazzy new digs, TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota doesn’t have nearly enough offensive firepower to be able to keep up with Heisman hopeful, Jahvid Best, talented redshirt freshman, Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, and surprisingly effective quarterback Kevin Riley and the rest of the Golden Bears. The only hope for Minnesota is if Cal reverts back to 2008 form, where they went 1-4 outside of Memorial Stadium (does a win at Washington State even count?), but I think Cal is too determined to stay in the BCS hunt.

Result: Cal 38, Minnesota 24.

#17 Utah @ Oregon – I wonder if Oregon looks back at their non-conference games for this season and regrets scheduling two non-BCS teams who desperately need every win to maintain their status as BCS contenders. Playing a team with everything to lose is a dangerous proposition, especially when Oregon is still figuring out its offensive personality. Fortunately for the Ducks, I feel Oregon saw enough of an improvement from Jeremiah Masoli and emergence from LaMichael James to pull out a tough win at raucous Autzen Stadium, and return to the top 25.

Result: Oregon 45, Utah 34

#3 USC @ Washington – It looks like Steve Sarkisian has really performed a quick fix for last season’s winless Huskies (ahh, can never say that enough). All of U-Dubs hopes rest in the legs and left arm of Jake Locker (who Husky fans consider as the 13th apostle), but this season it looks like he is finally ready to live up to the hype, after an impressive performance against a top 10 foe. But all that goes out the window when USC comes to town. Taylor Mays will provide a test Locker has never seen before, and the Trojan’s stable of running backs could put the game out of reach early.

Result: USC 38, 17

Arizona @ Iowa – With all the talented running backs in the Pac-10, Arizona’s Nic Grigsby often gets overlooked. But after the quick-footed back put up a 200-spot against Northern Arizona last weekend, you can bet Kirk Ferentz has done his homework.  In the end though,  it won’t matter, as the Wildcat’s ground game will prove too much to handle for the Hawkeyes.

Result: Arizona 24, Iowa 17

SMU @ Washington State – Did I say the Pac-10 would win every inter-conference game tomorrow? Sorry, I forgot how bad the Cougars were. Maybe next year, fellas.

Result: SMU 42, Washington State 13

If only the Cougars weren't horrible, the Pac-10 would be in for a perfect weekend.

If only the Cougars weren't horrible, the Pac-10 would be in for a perfect weekend.

#17 Cincinnati @ Oregon State – Wow, can those Bearcats put up points! 117 in two games is mighty impressive, but if you dig a little deeper, those games came against Rutgers and Southeast Missouri State.  Two teams not known for their pas defenses.  The Beavers, meanwhile, have a stopped the run very well this year, which will allow them to focus more attention on the Bearcats air attack. On the offensive side of the ball, look for Sean Canfield and the dynamic Rodgers brothers to do work in front of a national audience.

Result: Oregon State 48, Cincinnati 42.

San Jose State @ Stanford – For all the potentially great storylines – the Bill Walsh connection and the fact that the campuses are located less than 20 miles a part – this is one of the more boring games of the weekend. Dick Tomey has done a nice job for the Spartans but he can’t compete with the resources and firey attitude Jim Harbaugh gives to the Cardinal. The lone superstar in this game, Toby Gerhart, will determine the outcome, which doesn’t bode well for San Jose State.

Result: Stanford 24, San Jose State 20.

Louisiana-Monroe @ Arizona State – As impressive as the Warhawks 58-0 thrashing of Texas Southern was, I don’t think it matters. In a battle of the Sun Belt against the Pac-10, it doesn’t matter who’s playing (except Washington State), you can put a W in the Pac-10’s win column.

Result: Arizona State 42, Louisiana-Monroe 17.

Kansas State @ UCLA – The Bruins really made a statement last Saturday with a big-time win in Knoxville. UCLA will build on that momentum with a win over a Kansas State program battling through a down couple of seasons. The Wildcats have a positive net 2 points after games against Massachusetts and Louisiana-Lafayette: this game could get ugly.

Result: UCLA 31, Kansas State 13.

Pac-10 Weekend Preview: Possibility for Perfection?