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SOUs new guy not so new

Matt Sayre couldn&

t stay away from Southern Oregon for long.

The man who orchestrated some of the most prolific offensive units in Raider history is back at SOU after a one-year stint as head coach at College of the Siskiyous. He will again be offensive coordinator, filling a full-time coaching void left when Southern Oregon running backs and tight ends coach Mike Orthmann left to become a graduate assistant at Baylor after spring ball.

&

A lot of people asked me to come back and I figured out that I would have burned out pretty quick down there (at College of the Siskiyous),&

said Sayre, who took the job June 30 and started July 15. &

It&

s recruiting 60 players every year and then keeping your finger on them. They all live here on about one-eighth of the campus and about one-one hundredth of the town. A football player sneezes, you hear about it down there. I loved it, I had a good time, but I don&

t think I could have done it for more than a couple years.&

That&

s bad news for College of the Siskiyous, good news for the Raiders. With Sayre leading the offense, SOU gained an average of 414 yards per game in 2003 and scored an average of 33.6 points. He also worked some of his magic at College of the Siskiyous &

the Eagles scored 96 points in their last two games (both wins) and finished 5-5 overall.

A lot has changed at SOU in the past year, however. Former head coach Jeff Olson is now an assistant at North Medford High. The defensive coordinator under Olson, Shay McClure, is now the interim head coach. Most of the players who anchored Sayre&

s last Raider offense, including three current NFL prospects, have graduated and the offensive scheme has been revised.

— — — Sayre

— — —

&

It&

s a little bit of an adjustment coming back,&

Sayre admitted.

Before leaving, Orthmann, along with fellow assistant coaches Tom Powell, Nate Chin and Josh Wolfram, decided to revise the offense. Sayre likes the changes that were made and has decided to keep them in, while adding a few wrinkles of his own.

The updated offense features a more wide-open attack, which Sayre hopes will take advantage a receiving corps he says is the best he&

s seen at SOU.

The man responsible for getting the ball to those receivers will be Justin Despotakis, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound senior quarterback who will finally get his shot after three years as a backup.

There appears to be no quarterback controversy at SOU. According to Sayre, Despotakis has separated himself from backups Boomer Marshall and Dan Downey and will enter daily doubles next week as the clear starter.

&

Justin Despotakis is the man right now,&

Sayre said. &

He&

s the guy that won the job in the spring. He knows the offense, he executes it very well and his foot speed has improved. I was gone a year and his foot speed just went off the charts. He just moves around really well.&

And he may have to move around well unless the Raiders amp up their rushing attack. Last season, SOU averaged 103 yards per game on the ground, more than 100 less than the previous year.

Sophomore Jacobe Krizman returns as SOU&

s featured back, but Sayre hinted that the new offense will rely more heavily on the pass than the run.

&

They just felt like, against the opponents that they were lined up against last season and that we&

ll be up against this season, that they needed to open things up, and I agree,&

he said. &

It needs to happen and the kids really like it. And, we have an outstanding receiving corps &

solid across the board.&

Sayre hopes the offense hits on all cylinders in time for SOU&

s season opener Sept. 10 at San Diego. In the meantime, he&

s happy to be a Raider again.

&

I love it here,&

he said. &

This is kind of where I feel like I want to make my stand and be a part of this program.&

Sports editor can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 3020 or joe.zavala@dailytidings.com.