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OSU football notebook: More turnovers is defense's top priority

OSU football notebook: More turnovers is defense's top priority

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OSU football - linemen

Oregon State offensive linemen Kelsen Hennessy (67) and Nous Keobounnam, right, run through a drill during a recent practice.

The one item that tops the list for Oregon State’s football coaches when it comes to improving on defense this fall is creating more takeaways.

The Beavers tied for fifth in the Pac-12 with eight fumble recoveries in 2019. They tied for ninth in the conference with eight interceptions. Nahshon Wright’s three picks were the most by an individual player since 2014.

The coaches want more, and they’ve made it a priority.

OSU defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar said he’s excited about the possibilities ahead because of what has cropped up the first few official practices of the season.

“So you’re seeing it from the guys, the more strip attempts in practice and getting a few more balls on the ground, and we’ve seen an uptick in interceptions as well,” Tibesar said. “That’s awesome in practice. Now we’ve got to keep working on it and so it translates into a game.”

Jaydon Grant, a junior defensive back, said he’s confident this year’s numbers will improve because of the attention already put on that area in practices.

It’s a focus every time on the field and in every defensive meeting.

“Improving ourselves in certain places where we can take the ball away, then capitalizing on our opportunities to take the ball away,” Grant said. “This year we should definitely see a lot more takeaways from our defense, specifically our secondary.”

Returning the favor

Beavers offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren and quarterback Tristan Gebbia heaped praise on the team’s defense in their Tuesday session with the media.

Defensive back David Morris did a little in return a day later when he was asked about who has impressed him on the opposite side of the ball.

“Luke Musgrave has come out, he’s pretty physical. Same with Teagan (Quitoriano),” Morris said. “They're both really physically tight ends but they also can move and run pretty good routes. I also think that (wide receiver) Zeriah Beason has stepped up and been doing pretty well. All around our offense is doing great. I think the quarterbacks are putting balls where they need to go.

“I think that we’re just pushing each other, and they’re pushing us. It’s just how we’re going to get better and have a good season.”

Asked if he’s impressed by his defense so far, Tibesar said because he’s a coach he’s rarely impressed.

“There’s always more that we can work on. And that’s what we want, because we tell them we’re shooting for perfection. We’re going to coach them for perfection and keep pushing it,” he said. “So even when they go in there and make a play, we’re telling them how they could have done it better, a first step or making the proper angle and those types of things. So I think we’ve made some improvements, but we are a long way from having arrived.”

Striving for more

As Oregon State’s secondary coach, former NFL player Blue Adams brings some stability to a position that’s had some turnover in recent years.

Grant said Adams, now in his second season with the Beavers, wants his players to push to be their best on and off the field.

“Another thing he did is he made our secondary family,” Grant added. “That’s why it kind of speaks for the depth that we have now. We’re really a tight-knit unit and we play with a lot of fire. We’re just very fortunate to have a coach like coach Blue that can bring us all together and really get us to work to our fullest potential.”

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