Year three of Oregon State football under head coach Jonathan Smith is officially underway.
The 2019 season was a momentous year for the Beavs. A preseason unanimous pick to finish last in the Pac-12 North division ended in a second place finish with a 4-5 conference record; Oregon State won three road league games for the first time since 2013; and the defense that finished last in nearly every statistical category in 2018, made huge leaps the following year.
On Friday, the Beavers opened up day one of training camp for the 2020 season.
To go from a fully conference schedule to the season getting cancelled altogether to now a shortened season starting in less than one month, Smith was pleasantly surprised at where the Beavs were at when the team took the field for the first time together since facing the Oregon Ducks on November 30.
“I actually feel good about it. The lead up time we had - the last few weeks of getting some individual attention, coaches could be out there coaching them doing some skill development - I think that’s paid off. I think it looked sharp, specifically on offense,” said Smith during a press conference on Friday. “Throwing the ball, catching the ball, the timing, I thought it was better for a day one than maybe in the years past.”
One of those players who has been with the program since 2016 and has played for both former OSU head coach Gary Andersen and then three seasons with Smith is wide receiver Trevon Bradford.
“In terms of actual practice, thought day one was good,” said Bradford.
The 6-foot, 182-pound receiver has only started in 15 games heading into his redshirt-senior season. With the departure of go-to receiver Isaiah Hodgins to the NFL, expect a healthy Bradford to get more touches in 2020 along with a “spread the wealth” offensive mentality in this deep receiver group.
“We looked sharp man, we were probably 80-90 percent against the defense in terms of completion,” said Bradford. “We looked really good.”
Speaking of the defense, talk about a big step in the right direction from year one to year two. In 2018, the Beavs gave up 281.8 rushing yards per game (80+ more yards than second to last UCLA). The next season, 169.5 rushing yards allowed. A big reason was recruiting. Smith signed Nebraska transfer linebacker Avery Roberts, who lead Oregon State in tackles last season (83 total, 51 solo).
Roberts spoke with the media after practice on Friday:
“I feel pretty good. I feel like we’re one of the feel places that wasn’t affected too bad. Since we’ve been back in the Summer, we’ve had constant workouts the whole time even when Pac-12 cancelled. We were still working out everyday. I think we’re probably in better shape than we would be right now.”
The Beavs will get their chance to prove to the Pac-12 conference that year three under Smith will be even better than the first two starting on November 7 hosting the Washington State Cougars.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Beavers Podcast with host Ron Callan and special guest Oregon State women’s basketball forward Taylor Jones].