That time of year is just around the corner.
That time of year when college football players around the country announce they’re bypassing bowl season to begin preparing for the NFL Draft.
One player who won’t be participating: Oregon State senior Brandon Kipper.
The question was posed to Kipper. He responded as if someone tried to pull a turkey leg from his hand on Thanksgiving.
At first, Kipper paused, with a quizzicle look. Players actually don’t want to play in a bowl game?
“Yeah, and there’s crazy people out there. I ain’t one of them. Absolutely, I want to play in that thing. I look forward to it,” Kipper said. “You’d have to handcuff me for me not to play.”
Kipper is savoring every moment of his sixth and final year of college football. When Oregon State posts the locker room celebration after victories on social media, Kipper always seems to be in the middle of the video.
“Lot of years where we didn’t get to do that a whole lot, so I appreciate it,” Kipper said.
Appreciating Martinez: Last Saturday’s 138-yard performance by freshman running back Damien Martinez might have been his best of the season. Many of his 22 carries were plays that were initially stopped by Arizona State’s defense, only to see Martinez continue to plow forward and add several yards to the run.
Kipper applauded the effort, as he says the offensive line can’t be perfect after every snap. That’s where Martinez comes in and saves the play.
“After the game I told him, you ain’t a freshman anymore. Those were some grown man runs,” Kipper said. “It’s awesome to have a back who can make it right. He did that multiple times for us last week.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said on runs where Martinez seemingly won’t go down, there’s some technique involved in keeping the pad level low. But mostly, it’s what came from the factory.
“A lot of it is just strength and physical ability. He’s just a super talented guy,” Lindgren said. “There were some where he was met at the line of scrimmage and it ended up being five, six sometimes 10-yard gains. Which was awesome as the playcaller.”
Behind offensive improvement: Oregon State has scored 38 and 31 points its past two games. That is the Beavers’ best two-game stretch during Pac-12 play this season. Yes, it was against California and Arizona State, two teams that will finish the season with losing records. But OSU was decidedly geared down toward the finish, coasting after doing most of their offensive damage during the game’s first 40 minutes.
Lindgren said there’s no mystery. The Beavers have found balance. It’s difficult to get closer to 50-50 than OSU’s stat total of the past two weeks. Against Arizona State, the Beavers had 222 rushing yards, 221 passing yards. In the Cal game, 166 on the ground, 196 though the air.
“Us being able to get the throwing game more consistent, particularly early last week, was great for us. Being able to keep the defense off balance so they can’t load up and stop our run has helped,” Lindgren said.
Nick Daschel reported from Corvallis