Oregon State football players are looking forward to time off this week before practice resumes.
It has been a long season that took a physical toll with the way the schedule was disrupted.
That postponed season opener with Nicholls State was finally played Saturday, but as the final game of the season. OSU rolled, 77-3.
While the No. 15 Beavers (9-3) played well over the course of the season and earned a place in the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl against Texas, they had to play 11 straight weeks.
Their two byes came during the first week of the season and the week after the first game against Wisconsin on Sept. 8.
“I’m excited about the change,” receiver Markus Wheaton said. “We are out of school and it’s all football.”
The biggest benefit will be several players resting nagging injuries over the next three weeks before the Beavers leave town for San Antonio on Dec. 23 or 24.
However, senior reserve running back Jordan Jenkins broke his left ankle against Nicholls State on Saturday and will miss the Alamo Bowl, coach Mike Riley said.
Jenkins caught a 20-yard touchdown pass and carried the ball twice against Nicholls State. On the second carry he couldn’t get up and was helped off the field.
“That’s too bad,” Riley said. “There’s a kid who had his second-to-last chance to play for Oregon State, and now he’ll miss the bowl game. We’ll miss him and I’m really sorry about that.”
Jenkins, a Salem native, began his career as a walk-on and eventually earned a scholarship. He became a reliable receiver out of the backfield the last two seasons.
He was a special teams standout who was named first-team all-conference this season for his work on the coverage and return teams.
The only other regular unable to play due to injury is short-yardage fullback Tyler Anderson, who injured his knee against California on Nov. 17.
Receiver Brandin Cooks started the Nicholls State game and was out after the first drive to rest a bruised knee. Running back Storm Woods (knee), cornerback Jordan Poyer (knee), offensive guard Grant Enger (ankle) and Wheaton (quad) have been playing hurt.
Players can also concentrate on finals this week and lift weights on their own, while many coaches will be doing home visits with recruits.
“The break is going to be nice,” Poyer said. “I’ll be able to rest my knee up a little bit. It’s still a little sore. Other guys will rest and get healthy again. It’s finals week, so it’s school first, that’s what everyone says. And then when it’s time to prepare we’ll have no distractions. It will be time to go.”
Riley plans to visit recruits early in the week and be in San Antonio for a press conference Thursday morning for the Alamo Bowl’s local media. Then he’s off to do more recruiting.
His staff has video from Texas coming so they can study the Longhorns this week to be ready for Monday’s first bowl practice.