Today was the first day of practice under interim head coach Cory Hall and for the Beavers, it was all about moving forward.
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With the Beavers making such a drastic change in the middle of the season, it caught many people by surprise. OSU had stumbled to a 1-5 start, but nobody thought that Gary Andersen would agree to leave the program just six games into the season.
Despite the sudden departure from Andersen, the Beavers still have half a season of games left to play, and it started today on the practice field as interim head coach Cory Hall led his first practice as the head man.
“It went well,” Hall said. “There is a lot of energy out there and the boys loved the energy. I’m proud of them because they came out here and worked hard and were extremely focused. They are doing everything we’ve asked them to do as a staff and we are proud.”
Senior wide receiver Jordan Villamin echoed what Hall said about OSU’s improved energy.
“When you have a bad day, you want to bounce back and have a good day the next day and have a pep in your step,” Villamin said. “We can’t come out feeling sorry for ourselves because our coach is gone. We can’t be a lost puppy without it’s owner because Colorado is going to come in here and stomp us if we are a lost puppy.”
It’s unfamiliar territory for Hall who’s never been a head coach before in his career. He noted that he’s leaned heavily on personal connections from his time in the pros, and most importantly he’s been asking Andersen for advice.
“Obviously I had to ask him, what do I do?” Hall said with a laugh. “I had a great conversation with him at length and I’ll have more. There are still a lot of things that are yet before me that I’m going to have a lot of questions about and he’s a great mentor. He’s a great mentor and a great leader. He’s missed.”
With the Beavers taking on Colorado on Saturday, Hall hopes that the Beavers can channel their positive and negative energy towards the Buffaloes.
“Everyone has a chip,” Hall said. “I had a chip as a player and what you want to do is manage that. You do that on the field. Football is a certain sport where you can do things you can’t do in the general public. Football is a game where you can let all of that negative and positive energy out and run with it. Use this as fuel.”
“We are just focusing on Colorado,” running back Artavis Pierce said. “We have do it for coach A. We have to do everything we can to finish the season strong.”
For those who are wondering, Hall noted today that he doesn’t expect there to be any coordinator changes.
“The coordinators are the coordinators,” Hall said. “I trust those guys. I’m going to sit back and let them do what they’ve been hired to do. I’m not going to interfere. Right now, I don’t think I should do that to them. They’re professionals and they can get the job done. Like any head coach, I demand excellence.”
Despite the massive change at the coaching position, the players are still all in for the team and all in for coach Andersen.
“We are going to take it one game at a time,” Villamin said. “We just have to keep getting these wins for coach A. He started this whole thing and we are going to finish it for him. We have to play for coach A because that man has given us everything and then some. We have to give our full effort and get these last couple wins.”
-The energy at practice was at an all-time high from what I’ve seen. Players were bouncing around, screaming, and all of them had a smile on their face.
-The music has been removed from practice. Coach Hall mentioned that he wanted his players to focus on the practice at hand.
-In terms of offense and defense, there wasn’t a lot of schematic changes at practice today. Everything was really the same. The offense continued to do the same things it’s done all season, along with the defense.
-However, the defense was really on point today. They were flying all over the field and were screaming, hooting and hollering after every play today. The energy was at an all-time high.
-The offensive players got into the screaming and yelling action as well today when Thomas Tyner took a run to the outside for a long touchdown. Maybe with Hall in command, the Beavers will utilize Tyner a bit more.
-While the energy was high during practice, it was pretty obvious to me in my interviews with Villamin and Pierce that they were extremely somber. Both Villamin and Pierce looked like they were holding back tears and a lot of emotions when talking about Andersen. It’s hard to say how it will effect this team, but there are contrasting emotions on the field compared to off it.
-Coach Hall also mentioned that a lot of things are going to stay the same in terms of gameday preparation and practice preparation. He noted that coach Andersen laid a good foundation and that the Beavers will continue to follow it.
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