BeaversEdge - Oregon State takes first step in building new culture
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Oregon State takes first step in building new culture

Culture.

Family.

Togetherness.

These are the core values that head football coach Jonathan Smith and his staff are instilling in his players as he begins to rebuild the Oregon State football program brick-by-brick.

When Smith was brought to OSU from Washington, he inherited a program that was coming off perhaps it’s lowest point in the 21st century. The Beavers had just completed a 1-11 season where the end of of the season and a 69-10 loss to Oregon was the Beavers’ lowest point.

Once the season ended, many pundits around the country called OSU “The Hardest Job” in college football. Whether it was lack of funding, an unfinished stadium, or recruiting disadvantages, there were plenty of reasons not to take the job.

Those reasons didn’t scare off Smith, who had a plan and vision for resurrecting his alma mater. From the moment he stepped on campus, he preached that he would build a program with high character players and coaches, and hold everyone accountable to the highest level of success.

With the spring session now in the rearview mirror, Smith knows that while the Beavers have grown and developed faster than expected, they still have a lot of work in front of them that is going to be the key to whether or not Smith turns this program around sooner rather than later.

“We’ve gotta have the best summer of our lives,” Smith said. “We have to get in great shape and hit the weight room to get bigger, stronger and faster.”

Smith is absolutely correct.

The Beavers have lost 29 games over the course of the past three seasons in large part to their inability to win the battles in the trenches both offensively and defensively. OSU ranked dead last in the Pac-12 in sacks and created turnovers in each of the last three seasons and that’s directly correlated to lack of success.

On the other side of the ball, the Beavers’ offensive line had some very nice moments opening up holes for Ryan Nall, but they were inconsistent and struggled to protect the numerous QB’s the Beavers have deployed since the start of 2015 season.

As the Beavers now retreat to Valley Football Center for preparation and development the next several months, the biggest question mark surrounding the team is who is going to be at quarterback for the Beavers.

While Smith and Co. haven’t put a timetable on deciding a starting QB, I imagine it will linger into the first couple weeks of fall camp and that it will essentially be between Jake Luton and Conor Blount, who both really distanced themselves in the spring game.

“I put myself in a good spot,” Blount said when asked if he felt he made a push for the starting job. “I’ll leave that up to the coaches, but I’m going to keep doing what I do and put my head down and work. I need to get bigger, faster, and stronger and stay in the playbook (over the summer).”

Blount, who like many other Beavers, has had to go through a very difficult transition coaching wise over the past few months. He said after the spring game on Saturday that what Smith is building is genuinely helping the Beavers become better players on the field.

An example of just how stringent the Beavers are in daily workouts is that the players have to wear the correct bracelet to weight room otherwise they’ll be held accountable. While remembering to wear the right bracelet might seem somewhat comical, it’s helped the players with accountability while also building a new culture.

“No question, there’s a different culture,” Blount said. “The littlest things make a difference and out here, it’s a game of inches and if a bracelet is going to get you in trouble, you’ll never know what will happen on the field. That’s how you change a culture.”

Safety Jalen Moore, who has been a staple of the Beavers’ secondary since his arrival, feels that what Smith and his staff have done in terms of bringing the team closer is going to pay big dividends come fall.

“He’s doing a really good job at making sure we all know each other's names,” Moore said about Smith instilling a culture. “When you go on the field with your teammates, you need to know what they are capable of. It’s a team out there. A brotherhood. If I know that I have my brothers beside me and I can trust them, that’s going to help us win games. There’s trust in the players, coaches, and even the equipment managers. It’s around the whole program and (Smith) is doing a really good job helping us get unity as a team.”