Sunshine in El Paso
Dec. 26, 2008
The Oregon State football team hasn’t seen much of that lately after December’s Arctic blast in the Pacific Northwest. The team was greeted to a 64 degree temperature, but a pretty strong wind, in the first day of practice at Canutillo High School on the outskirts of El Paso. Okay, make that near gale force winds causing dust/sand storms as the practice progressed, even a tumbleweed blew through the practice facility outside one of the end zones.
“I was very impressed with the kids’ focus today, I thought they stayed with it pretty good,” Beaver head coach Mike Riley said. “I wish we could have punted, kicked and received kicks more today because the weather at home hasn’t allowed us to do that since we have been indoors – hopefully we will be able to do that the next couple of days.”
The weather however is going to change, as possible snow showers are in the forecast tonight and then highs in the upper 40s for Saturday. It rebounds nicely with highs expected to be around 60 for the actual game.
It was nice to see junior running back Jeremy Francis back at practice today; he flew in this morning from Florida. Francis left the team shortly after fall term to care for his ailing mother (look for more info from the GT and RG later today and tomorrow). He expects to play a key role for the depleted offense that will face the No. 18 Pittsburgh Panthers without the services of James and Jacquizz Rodgers.
Beaver defensive linemen Stephen Paea and Mitchel Hunt did not practice Friday, but according to Riley they are both expected to play in the 75th Brut Sun Bowl (did you know the Sun Bowl was the first bowl game to have a corporate sponsor?). Some good news today was tight end Joe Halahuni returned to practice in a limited fashion.
Check out Beaver Nation Online later tonight for Kurt Richter’s video clips from today’s drills, including some post-practice interviews. Richter was also at the Sunland Park barbecue, the first function where the Beavers and Pitt Panthers got to mingle. Senior cornerback Brandon Hughes is working as the unofficial roaming reporter this week, watch for his clips on Beaver Nation Online and nightly on KEZI-9 in Eugene.
A strong media contingent at practice today, including the aforementioned KEZI, Cliff Kirkpatrick of the Corvallis Gazette Times, Bob Clark of the Register Guard, two writers from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the El Paso Times and local television stations. Some other interested onlookers included UTEP Athletic Director Bob Stull, former head coach for the Miners.
OSU staffers stopped by Sun Bowl Stadium on the way to practice, where a 10-15 person crew was busy painting the field. And in this week’s edition of El Paso’s What’s Up entertainment newspaper. Local writer Steve Kaplowitz states that Yvenson Bernard’s two-point conversion run in the 2006 Sun Bowl is the second-best moment in the Bowl’s history. Priest Holmes, the former Texas and Kansas City Chief standout, was highlighted for having the most significant Sun Bowl moment when he scored his fourth rushing touchdown late in a 1994 victory over North Carolina.
Check back tomorrow for more from OSU’s eighth bowl appearance in 10 years.