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Offense, defense mix as roommates, with positive results/

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Oregon State receiver Jordan Villamin says having a week of football camp in Bend is like 'Remember the Titans,' and gives the Beavers an 'old-school feel.'BEND — After a 2-10 inaugural season at the helm of Oregon State football, coach Gary Andersen figured change was necessary heading into the 2016 campaign.

One of Andersen’s ideas was to move Oregon State’s weeklong training camp from the Corvallis campus to Central Oregon.

Beginning last Friday, the Beavers have practiced at Summit High and been housed at Central Oregon Community College.

Reviews from those involved are overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s been great,” says Andersen, whose previous head coaching stints have been at Southern Utah, Utah State and Wisconsin. “These are unbelievable facilities for us, from the high school to the college. (Coming to Bend) breaks camp up. You’re here for a week and then you go back home. Then we switch gears to prepping for the first game.

“I really like it. I’ve never done it before as a head coach. Never had the opportunity to do it before. It’s been a great experience.”

On road trips, offensive players typically room with offensive players, defensive players with defensive players, and specialists with specialists. In the year-old dormitories at COCC, room assignments have been switched so defensive players get to know offensive players, and vice versa.

“It’s probably something I thought of as I was mowing my lawn this summer,” Anderson says with a smile. “Hopefully, it’s one more thing that’s a little bit of a help.

“There are some relationships here that possibly would never have been built, and it’s not just because of the mix-ups of the roommates. These kids are together for a week. We give them a couple of hours at night to do what they want. I don’t feel like I have to baby-sit them. They’re going to stay on campus, and they’re going to be together.

“It’s been really good along those lines. As coaches, you get to know players better. You’re with them in the cafeteria. They’re not getting out of practice and running home. We have some more time to interact.”

Cornerback Dwayne Williams is rooming with offensive guard Gus Lavaka.

“I didn’t know him that much,” Williams says, “but everybody told me he’s a cool guy. Everything’s going good. I don’t mind living with him at all.”

Putting defensive players with offensive players “was a very smart move,” Williams says. “It has created more chemistry with the team. Like Coach A said, that can help win some games, if you have that bond with them.”

“It’s a great idea,” says quarterback Darell Garretson, who has roomed with safety Omar Hicks-Onu. “I didn’t know him that well, but I’ve found he’s a good kid and a good roommate. He’s clean, so I know his mom taught him right.

“You get the perspective of the defense, and the defense gets the perspective of the offense. I think it has brought us closer together as a team.”

Says receiver Jordan Villamin: “I’m rooming with (nose tackle) Sumner Houston. I don’t usually talk to the D-line, but I’ve been talking to Sumner every day. It’s been pretty cool.”

So has the experience in Bend.

“I’m enjoying this camp,” Williams says. “We’re away from everybody and everything. It’s football and your brothers. The campus is pretty nice. We’re getting fed pretty good four meals a day, and I’m loving it.”

“It’s been awesome,” Garretson says. “We’ve had nice weather. I think the altitude (3,600 feet) will help us with conditioning. The first couple of days, guys had to get acclimated. It’s going to benefit us in the long run.”

Villamin says the camp has “an old-school feel.”

“It reminds me of ‘Remember the Titans,’ when they went to wherever they went,” he says. “It promotes team bonding. I like that. I’d never been to Bend before. I’m excited we’re all here together as a family.”

Families have squabbles, and there were several of them during Monday's contentious scrimmage session at Summit. Villamin and freshman cornerback Chris Henry got into the most heated fracas that eventually involved several players, including receiver Seth Collins, who had to be pulled from the scrum.

Andersen stopped the action at one point, instructing the players to line up for a couple of group wind sprints and 20 sit-ups.

“It’s a reminding moment,” the OSU coach says, “a teaching moment rather than a scolding moment. We’ve talked about being competitive, but not combative. Bottom line, this was a good practice. It’s important you get into those situations where you get competitive, but there’s that line where you’re not making the right decisions with your teammates.

“These kids will handle it and continue to learn from it. As youthful as they are, you have to take every moment and try to teach.”

The players say the altercations were in the heat of battle and soon forgotten.

“Guys are competing out there,” Williams says. “Things are going to happen. We’re all one team. We understand what’s on the field, stays on the field. It’s nothing personal.”

“It’s just guys competing, guys getting aggressive,” Garretson says. “If it doesn’t happen, I don’t know if you have really competitive guys. Those things blow over. Everyone’s going to be lovey-dovey in the locker room.”

Oregon State’s Valley Football Center is undergoing the final touches of a $42-million renovation, so it was a good time for the Beavers to be out of town. But they very well might return to Bend again next summer. Oregon State’s Bend campus is near completion, and there will be brand-new dorms the football team could use.

“We’ll sit down and take a look at it, but I absolutely could see us being back next year,” Andersen says. “We have a pretty cool new facility waiting for us (in Corvallis), too. But right now, I would say yes.”

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