Beavers’ Andersen has a connection with Weber State coach
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Oregon State coach Gary Andersen says facing Weber State coach Jay Hill in the Beavers’ opener makes him feel old.
Andersen recruited Hill way back when the Beavers’ coach was an assistant at Utah. Their paths have crossed many times since.
They’ll reunite again on Friday night when Oregon State opens the season at home against the Wildcats. It will be Andersen’s first game as coach of the new-look Beavers.
“I’m proud of him,” Andersen said about his friend. “It just makes me feel old.”
Weber State went 2-10 last season in Hill’s first year as head coach.
Nearly 20 years ago, Hill was a promising junior college cornerback when Andersen, then an assistant under coach Ron McBride, helped recruit him to play for the Utes. Hill went on to be the team’s defensive MVP as a senior in 1999.
Later, Hill coached cornerbacks at Utah for two years when Andersen was defensive coordinator under Kyle Whittingham. Weber State is Hill’s first crack at being a head coach.
During the first of what will be a weekly press conference throughout the season, Andersen said he has nothing but respect for Hill, adding that he would hire him in a heartbeat because he cares about his players and he is a great recruiter.
“When Jay was making the decision to become a head football coach he called me. That was a tough decision for him to leave Utah and jump out and go be a head coach,” Andersen said. “There’s no question in my mind that he made the right decision.”
Hill and Andersen aren’t the only coaches who will have a connection on Friday: Weber State receivers coach Fesi Sitake is the brother of Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake.
“I’d rather have a reunion maybe like on July 4th or something,” Andersen joked.
Andersen, who got his first head coaching gig in 2009 at Utah State, came to the Beavers in December after two seasons at Wisconsin. He is charged with remaking Oregon State following the departure of longtime coach Mike Riley for the top job at Nebraska.
Andersen is installing a new spread offense with the help of offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin, in addition to switching up the defensive scheme. Oregon State, which went 5-7 last season, used a largely pro-style offense under Riley.
The Beavers also are breaking in a new quarterback — or quarterbacks, more specifically — after Pac-12 record-setter Sean Mannion wrapped up his career. Andersen announced last week that he’ll play both freshman Seth Collins and redshirt freshman Marcus McMaryion — neither of whom have experience in a live game.
Known as more of a defensive coach, Andersen has left the details to Baldwin; including who will take the first snap on Friday night. Last week, Baldwin said it was important, at least at the start of the season, to make sure both players got game experience.
“It’s always exciting to get to this part of the year,” Andersen said. “These kids have put in countless hours of time and effort and energy. They’ve gone through a lot together already.”
Weber State returns 15 starters, including junior quarterback Jadrian Clark, who took over for the Wildcats’ last five games last season to throw for 902 yards and seven touchdowns. His top target this season will be junior Cam Livingston, who caught 57 passes for 856 yards. Junior Zach Smith and sophomore Eric Wilkes anchor Weber State’s rushing attack.