Players agree Defensive Coordinator Trent Bray’s aggressive style works

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Rafael Juarez: OMN Photographer

Defensive Coordinator Trent Bray during the Oregon State game against Washington State University

Ryan Harlan, Sport's Contributor

If you ask any Oregon State football player or coach, they’ll tell you that defensive coordinator Trent Bray brings the energy no matter where he is on the field, even on game day and in practice.  

“Coach Bray, wherever he is you’re going to feel his energy,” said redshirt senior inside linebacker Kyrei Fisher-Morris. “On the field he’s getting us amped up, we’re getting turnt up, we’re all meeting together, but a lot of the time Coach Bray gives the reins to the players.”

Even though you feel Coach Bray’s presence watching him coach from the sideline, he also allows the players to bring the energy on defense rather than have it all come from just him, which has been a benefit for the players.

“With him bringing that energy it’s kind of like more people are bought in with it, with his defense, you even have scout team players of the week going crazy,” said redshirt sophomore defensive back  Akili Arnold. “I think the energy that Bray brought into the defense more just makes us run through a wall for him. It’s like a shot of adrenaline when Bray talks to us.”

So far, the past eight months have shown that players on the defensive have bought into Bray’s defensive philosophy playing to the energy that Bray brings each day to practice.

As a first-year defensive coordinator, Bray has adopted a defensive style that leans on aggressiveness and the changes in philosophy have been well received by position groups and even the defensive position coaches throughout the course of fall training camp.

Secondary coach Blue Adams spoke of Bray’s defensive scheme and how it impacted the secondary’s play style.

“I think it fits us man, it fits us, it turns us loose, it allows us to play on edge, it allows us to play fast. I think for our guys and their skillset, that’s a perfect matchup,” said Adams.

Redshirt senior defensive lineman Simon Sandberg echoed similar sentiments to Coach Adams about Bray.

“Oh, we’re allowed to just go, which is what we’re meant to do and it fits us way better, go forward and be aggressive. It’s really nice,” said Sandberg.

Bray took over defensive play-calling from former defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar in the final four games of the 2021 football season as interim defensive coordinator. There was not a lot of time for him to put his fingerprints on the defense with the transition but made some minor alterations with the limited time he had.  

“We didn’t have to switch up a lot, we kinda just kept going with what our game plan was throughout the year with Tibs, because you know it’s really hard to change a full playbook throughout the year,” said Arnold

The transition between the two coaches was a bit of a challenge for the defense and the coaches initially but it helped simplify the schemes along with the playbook on the defensive side of the ball.

“It was kind of weird at first, but then I feel like it made it a lot more simple, a lot of people felt more comfortable being in better positions,” said Arnold, “With Bray, he just puts everybody in a good position and lets them play football free.”

However, now having eight months along with a full offseason under his belt as defensive coordinator, Bray has been able to explore, tinker, and put his fingerprints on the defense with the defensive schemes and play calls.

Even with that time during the offseason, the playbook remains simple, which allows the defense to attack what opposing offenses give them rather than just sit back and wait.

As a result, Bray has been able to develop a level of trust with the defense with the familiarity of the scheme and that has allowed more players to get playing time than previously before.  

“He trusts everybody, like he knows how everybody plays, it’s not necessarily we’re going to have the same five people on the field every time for DB’s [defensive backs], he knows that some people might be good at this, some people might be good at that,” said Arnold, “subbing people in and out knowing that this is their strength and this is their weakness, knowing everybody’s personnel and skill talent is really big for us.”

The expectations for Bray’s defense are sky-high this year as the defense returns a lot of veterans and has depth at multiple positions. The goal by the season’s end for the players on the defensive side of the ball is to be one of the best defenses in the nation but try not to get too ahead of themselves.

The aggressiveness and the energy of how the defense plays in both practice and on game day likely reflect Coach Bray’s playing style as a linebacker at Oregon State from 2002 to 2005. Even on a hot day in summer, you’ll find him sprinting down the sideline with his players when there is a loose ball on the field just as if he was still out on the field playing in a Beaver Uniform.

Although Bray’s playing days are behind him as a linebacker, with the energy he brings to the sideline Bray would still try to make a tackle if given a helmet and shoulder pads.

“Oh, one hundred percent, I don’t know if he’ll make the tackle, but he’ll sure try to,” said Arnold.