Phillips and the receiving core
The pass game was the most inconsistent part of the Beaver offense last season, and the receiving core is looking to change that heading into this season behind new passing game coordinator and receivers coach Jason Phillips.
Phillips has a long background in coaching wide receivers at the Division-I level, most recently for the University of Kansas, and is a veteran of six bowl games. He said today that he is “very happy” with the situation at Oregon State
“(Practice) is going awesome. The people here are great, the situation is great, and coach Anderson is awesome,” Phillips said. “I feel very fortunate to be here and am looking forward to next season.”
He will have his hands full to increase the production in the air as Oregon State ranked second to last in the Pac-12 in the category last season, but has a defense to go up against in practice every day that ranked fourth in the conference in pass yards allowed per game. When asked about how he was working on bringing back the pass he jokingly said “We just want to make sure we catch every pass thrown our way.” then after he finished laughing added. “I wish it was that easy.”
“We’ve got to realize where we are in the Pac-12. We are going to see an opponent every week who is pretty good. We just have to go out every week and prepare for that and be ready to compete,” Phillips said.
The receivers on the team are also enjoying having coach Phillips on the team and say that he is constantly pushing them to be better.
“(Phillips_ pushes me to my full ability every single day. Whether it’s a good play or a bad play he tells me what I need to do better and I really like that about him.” said freshman Isaiah Hodgins, whose early graduation and enrollment in Oregon State is allowing him to participate in spring practice.
Hodgins’ first months
Hodgins has been thrown into the fire in his first month and a half on campus almost imediatly getting into winter workouts and then the early spring practice schedule. But even though he is the youngest guy on the field he is already making an impact in the pass game for the Beavers.
“It’s typically hard for a freshman to come in and for him to get here early I think he has done a tremendous job adapting,” Phillips said. “He hit the wall probably about a week ago. But he kept climbing and I think he’s making strides to get over the wall.
During the scrimmage he was targeted almost every drive and hauled in some big catches, most notably a 30 yard catch in which he tacked on 20 yards after the catch and a touchdown beating Christian Wallace down the sideline. He also blocked very well on the outside in multiple plays, one resulting in a near touchdown for Trevon Bradford on a screen. He did lose out on another touchdown during red zone drills that Wallace knocked away from him in the far left corner later in the practice, and dropped one ball on the sideline.
“(The scrimmage) went pretty good. I feel like I could have brought up my performance a bit in the redzone. I’m a big body and I’ve got to come down with those,” said Hodgins.
“I think Isaiah is doing really good,” said senior receiver Jordan Villamin. “I like the way he’s playing, making big plays. You know my little brother is doing well, I’m excited to see what he’ll bring this year.”
Seniors Hunter Jarmon and Jordan Villamin are poised to take over as the veteran leaders of the receiving core with Victor Bolden graduating after last season. Both have had good days throughout practice, and during the scrimmage they had some key catches. Villamin caught a 25 yard pass up the right hash mark that moved the chains on a 3rd and 9, and Jarmon worked in the short game with multiple catches for less than ten yards, but did drop his only long ball attempt when Luton tried to throw him a strike to the end zone.
“Jordan and Hunter are doing great. At this point in their careers the understand the purpose of why they’re here and that they are seniors,” Phillips said. “They have a chance to put a statement on this program before they leave. They understand that and have worked really hard since I’ve been here.”
Villamin has only recently hit the practice field as he was battling lingering injuries through the first few weeks of spring practice, but is taking advantage of every snap he gets.
“It feels good to be out with my teammates. It’s kind of boring watching from the sidelines,” Villamin said. “I’m just excited to get back out here.”
Another standout receiver during the scrimmage was sophomore Andre Bodden who hauled in a deep touchdown pass from Jake Luton, and continued to make plays specifically in cross routes in the middle of the field.