An already-thin Oregon State defensive line took a hit earlier this week when Jeromy Reichner was injured.
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound redshirt junior, who transferred in from Los Angeles Valley College after two seasons at Temple, was being counted on to make an immediate impact.
“It’s a huge loss,” defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar said Wednesday after practice. “Jeromy was one of our best defensive linemen. We’re just fortunate he’s going to be able to come back still this season.
“I think he had surgery today and we’ll hope for a healthy recovery for him. It’s a big blow to us. We weren’t very deep with experienced players on the D-line as it was. He was a starter for us and one of our top defensive linemen and that hurts.”
The Beavers will have to get creative to fill the void left by Reichner’s absence.
“We just have to keep developing the young guys as fast as we can,” Tibesar said. “There’s no magic bullet to just pull in and replace a guy. We can’t go get a guy off waivers like you can in the National Football League or anything like that. So we’ve got to work with the guys who are here and keep developing them.”
One player who could help is Miki Fifita, who is making the move from offensive line to defensive line.
“Miki’s been a great addition to our defense,” Tibesar said. “That showed late in spring. He made an immediate impact. I thought he brought some toughness both physically and mentally to the position and to the defense.”
The Beavers took the non-contact gray jerseys off the quarterbacks and did a mini scrimmage at the end of Wednesday’s practice.
Players on both sides felt the excitement.
Cornerback Jay Irvine had a pick-six off a Jake Luton pass on the second play while running back B.J. Baylor had a long TD run and Rweha Munyaji closed the practice with a nice catch and run for a score.
It appeared Irvine suffered an injury to his upper body and left the field. He was scheduled to speak after practice but was scratched. There was no update on his injury or status.
Jonathan Smith has taken a bit of a different approach early in fall camp by having his Oregon State football team practice in the afternoon.
Typically under both Mike Riley and Gary Andersen the Beavers held morning workouts.
Smith said before camp began that he likes the idea of using the morning to get prepared for practice and to give the players an idea of what to expect when they take the field in the afternoon.
“I just like the flow of getting ready in the morning, getting some work done early afternoon and then rehashing it at night,” he said.
Temperatures weren’t too bad last weekend when camp began, but it has been much hotter this week.
Luton was asked Tuesday about the change and if he thought it was Smith’s way to possibly toughen up the team some.
“He might, I’m not really sure. I haven’t asked him,” Luton said Tuesday. “But I think it’s good. It gets you out here and there’s not a hotter part of the day than when we step on the field so it really tests your toughness, to get out here and just kind of no excuses. Whatever the weather is we’re going to come out here and compete, if it’s 60 degrees or 90 degrees, it doesn’t matter.”
Under his wings
Junior running back Artavis Pierce saw plenty of action as a freshman with 98 carries for 523 yards and four touchdowns.
Pierce believes true freshmen Jermar Jefferson could have a similar impact this season.
Jefferson has had an impressive start to his first fall camp and had gotten a few more reps with Calvin Tyler out the first few practices.
Those three, along with Christian Wallace, B.J. Baylor, Kase Rogers and Hunter Matson, provide a number of options.
“As a whole, I feel like we’re a great group of guys. We just have to buy in and get better every day,” Pierce said. “I feel like Jermar Jefferson, he’s standing out each and every day, making big runs. He’s separating himself.”
Pierce said he’s trying to be a good leader for Jefferson.
“Just believe, stay focused and don’t be scared,” he said of his advice. “It is what it is. He could follow me. I’ve been through it, I feel like I can lead him in the right direction.”