Isaiah Dunn and Isaiah Hodgins have been going head-to-head on the football field since they were kids.
The pair of Oregon State standouts grew up just seven miles apart in California’s East Bay, and their series of individual battles over the years has yielded plenty of friendly trash talk.
“He thinks that he’s open all the time,” Dunn jokingly told reporters on Tuesday after Hodgins walked into his interview. “But there’s a lot of times when I see (quarterback Jake Luton) look out my way and then look away really quick.”
“What about tackling in the open field, how has that worked out for this fall camp?” Hodgins shot back.
Dunn laughs and swears he hasn’t had a chance to hit his friend yet, but later relays just how important Hodgins and the rest of Oregon State’s group of wideouts have been in helping the Beavers defensive backs improve this fall. They might not face a better group of wideouts all season than the ones they face in practice each day.
“Just seeing him get better and seeing how much better I’ve gotten over the years, it’s always a battle whenever we go against each other,” Dunn said. “The whole receiver room, honestly, there’s a few guys in there that get me better on a day-to-day basis. With (Hodgins) being a big-body receiver with prototypical receiver height, it’s intriguing. It’s a good challenge for me and it gets me better everyday.”
The daily task of squaring off with Hodgins, Tyjon Lindsey and the rest of Oregon State’s talented group of receivers can be a tough task — but it is one that Dunn admits it is one the Beavers cornerbacks need. Last season, the Beavers ranked 123rd out of 129 teams in defensive passing efficiency, and no team gave up more touchdowns through the air.
Other areas of Oregon State’s defense have received substantial reinforcements — Addison Gumbs and Avery Roberts are impact transfers at the linebacker positions, and Jordan Whittley, a JUCO transfer, could play a pivotal role on the defensive line.
When it comes to the secondary, though, improvement will have to be provided by a group of cornerbacks who struggled at times last season. Dunn believes the corners have taken a big step this fall, thanks in large part to more competitive workouts.
“It’s about learning to compete every snap,” Dunn said. “You can be in perfect coverage and the quarterback decides to scramble out of the pocket and you’ve just gotta keep on covering, keep on battling every play. There’s guys on the other side of the ball, on the other team, trying to get to the next level just like you are and they aren’t playing around out there.”
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For their part, the improvement the corners have shown since the arrival of secondary coach Blue Adams has also made for a better practice environment for the receivers.
“They are lightyears better,” Hodgins said of this year’s secondary compared to last. “It’s been a lot more competition which has made practice more fun, too. It’s kind of hard from an offensive standpoint because some days, they’re gonna get us and they’re gonna have a better practice than us, which can be frustrating. But in a game, it’s gonna help us out.”
With safeties Jalen Moore and David Morris both easing back into things after missing most of fall camp due to injuries, the success of Dunn and the rest of Oregon State’s corners could largely decide how far the Beavers go in the opening weeks of the season.
“I feel like this year the competition has just kicked up way more and that's a credit to coach Blue and the DB”s just getting that mindset that they have to step up this year,” Hodgins said. “They know that a lot of people are going to be trying to attack them. They’ve attacked camp and mentally prepared for the season. They’re going to be ready.”
Tufaga to transfer
Linebacker Isaiah Tufaga announced his intention to leave Oregon State and transfer to University of Hawaii.
Tufaga played in nine games last year with five starts. He finished with 36 total tackles and a quarterback hurry.
Greens-Richards retires from football
The Oregonian reported that defensive back Myles Green-Richards has announced his retirement from football due to an ongoing medical issue.