CORVALLIS, Ore. — Construction is moving at a feverish pace at the west end of Reser Stadium, where Oregon State is putting the finishing touches on a $42 million remodel prior to the start of the football season.
The school is attempting to continue its advancement of the football program. As for the Beavers? They’re trying to keep from returning to their past struggles, where they once had a streak of 28 consecutive losing seasons.
Oregon State kicks off fall practices Friday at Summit High School in Bend, trying to end a slide of two consecutive losing seasons. The most recent time the Beavers posted three straight losing seasons was 1996 to 98.
Achieving a winning season in 2016 is expected to be a steep climb, as the Beavers are coming off a 2-10 season, their worst since 1995. Oregon State was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North in the preseason media poll.
Oregon State returns 11 starters, including seven on offense. Among the newcomers looking to make an impact this season is quarterback Darrel Garretson, a junior transfer from Utah State who won the starting job during the spring.
Because of the stadium construction, Oregon State is moving the start of fall practice off campus for the first time ever to Bend, located about 125 miles southeast of Corvallis in Central Oregon. The Beavers will hold practice for the first six days in Bend, before returning to OSU’s campus Aug. 11.
Oregon State’s second-year coach Gary Andersen hopes to increase the team’s unity and chemistry during the week away from Corvallis.
“I want them to get to know some different people. We’ll be doing some very different bonding situations in Bend that are a little bit different than what we’ve done in the past. Does it win you games? No. Do I believe it helps? Yes,” Andersen said.
Sophomore receiver Seth Collins said players are looking forward to starting fall camp in Bend.
“It’s going to be a fun thing, but I think it’s going to be physical. It just adds to the overall camaraderie,” Collins said.
This season marks a change for Collins, as he was Oregon State’s starting quarterback coming out of fall camp last season. Collins started seven games, then after an injury, played at wide receiver during OSU’s season finale against Oregon, scoring three rushing touchdowns.
“I’m not really sure what my role will be, but when I touch the ball, I plan on making things happen,” Collins said.
In Collins’ place at quarterback is Garretson, who passed for 2,586 yards and 18 touchdowns in two seasons at Utah State prior to transferring to Oregon State in June 2015.
“The redshirt year was hard, but I got to work on a lot of stuff, got to work on certain things you normally wouldn’t be able to work on during the season. The year off was beneficial, for sure,” said the 6-foot, 210-pound Garretson, whose uncle Ron is an NBA referee.
Competition figures to be intense during the four weeks of preseason practice. There are at least half the starting jobs up for grabs, and new coordinators to impress in defensive coordinator Kevin Clune and co-offensive coordinators Kevin McGiven and T.J. Woods.
The Beavers open the season on the road, playing at Minnesota on Sept. 1. Oregon State has seven home games on its schedule, including the Civil War against Oregon on Nov. 26.