OSU SPRING DAY 10: Offense finds a groove

CORVALLIS – One tight end was back on the field Tuesday and another, while likely out for the rest of the spring, has a brighter prognosis than many thought. Cody Vaz got more playing time with the 1's and the running backs experimented with a new package. Sean Martin and Steven Nelson continued to play tough football and Rod Perry gives you an in-depth look at the competition in the secondary…

Practice Notes Day 10
Offense

  • Connor Hamlett was back in pads and running with the tight end group on Tuesday after getting dinged up on Monday.

  • Tyler Perry update – "The initial diagnosis is positive," Riley said. "It won't be necessarily long term – a major league bruise/contusion." While Riley did not produce a definitive yea or nay in regards to the length of the injury Perry incurred, he did go as far as to theorize that the junior tight end would be out the rest of the spring.

  • Cody Vaz saw the majority of his snaps with the 1's during Day 10. Barring a few inaccurate throws and route confusion between signal caller and receiver, Vaz had yet another solid day this spring behind center.

  • Sean Mannion's day wasn't exactly sloppy, but it was not his best outing this spring. I noticed that the junior had some ball control issues, including a couple poor releases when under pressure and a muffed snap.

  • Tuesday saw a lot of looks to tight ends and tailbacks in the pass game. The overall focus of the offensive attack leaned more toward short and midrange throws to the likes of Kellen Clute, Dustin Stanton and Caleb Smith. Similarly, Storm Woods and Terron Ward have been seeing a higher volume of pass plays heading their direction.

  • The Beavs did some light experimentation with some dual running back sets on Tuesday.

  • Woods, Ward and Chris Brown are getting better by the day. They are adapting quite well to a slate of increasingly complex run formations. Ward and Woods in particular have been shouldering the responsibility of further incorporation into passing schemes quite well.

  • Riley on his top two runners - "Both (Ward) and Storm are much more confident players than they were a year ago," Riley said. "They are kind of breaking into an opportunity to play more and more. Terron has really contributed a lot already in a lot of ways. He is a kickoff returner, he covers kickoffs, he is a very productive runner – Terron Ward is really a good football player. He just does a lot of stuff for us."

  • A pretty decent day all-in-all for the offensive line, characterized by a little less barking coming from Mike Cavanaugh. I've said it before, and I will say it again – the less yelling Cavanaugh does, the better his unit is doing.

  • Riley on the state of the offensive line – depth and rotation. "With Isaac (Seumalo) being out for as long as he has, it's probably good for us to be able to look a lot at Josh Mitchell and Gavin Andrews and some of the other guys that I think can make a move," Riley said. "We kind of know who is going to be starting – Grant Enger is going to start. So we are looking to develop and (we are looking) for guys to push up into a position where we feel good about them playing in the games."

    Defense
  • Micah Audiss had a nice interception today – the redshirt sophomore was in perfect position to snag the ball out of the air after Mannion's intended receiver slipped on the turf.

  • It was a good day for corners Sean Martin and Steven Nelson in pass defense. Both players had spurts of lockdown play, and proved mostly effective in the end zone.

  • It was certainly not a banner day for the defensive line – Woods and Ward had a good amount of success running the ball both inside and out. The tailback tandem often found their way to the middle of the field after a dodged/broken tackle. If I had to sum up the DL with just one word it would be: sluggish.

  • That said, part of the aforementioned success of the running game could be attributed to frequent rotation on the defensive line during Day 10. A good example of this occurred when Riley called upon the young guys to finish out practice. One of the formations saw Blake Harrah and Lavonte Barnett take over defensive end duty for a few plays, with Edwin Delva, Ali'i Robins and Noke Tago sharing time at DT.

    Rod Perry Talks Beaver defensive backs
    How has Steven Nelson, the former JC cornerback, been doing in his first spring at Oregon State? We caught up with the Beavs' secondary coach for an in-depth look at the OSU rookie's progress and more.

    "Steve's been good. He has a lot of energy and works hard, and he is beginning to learn our system. He's got a lot of skills - he just needs to learn how we do things," said Perry.

    Perry added that Nelson is meshing well with his teammates and competitors in the thick of battle for Jordan Poyer's vacated starting corner slot.

    "He's fit in great. The players like him and he has a good relationship with them. They work hard and they play hard – I've been happy about how they have responded to one another."

    Perry mentioned that Larry Scott is also in the mix for playing time at corner behind Nelson and Sean Martin.

    Last Tuesday I reported on "The Rod Perry Effect" – it was a discussion of how various players under Perry's guidance (Martin, Scott, Rashaad Reynolds and others) have been ‘coaching' themselves on the sidelines, even without Perry being present for the discussion. Today, I asked Perry what he thought of that particular dynamic.

    "That's outstanding – that's the leadership that we have on the sideline with (Reynolds), Ryan (Murphy) and Sean (Martin) – that's what I encourage those guys to do."

    Perry closed out the discussion by noting that he has been impressed with the play of Noland, Audiss and Steven Christian – these three have been the chief replacements filling the void left by the injured Tyrequek Zimmerman, who is not participating in spring ball.

    The Gwacham Grading System
    One of the first things I heard in practice today was Brent Brennan shouting "Now you're playing Boom!" Indeed, Obum Gwacham looked like a threat on Tuesday.

    He did have a few dropped passes, some of which were the result of tight defense. But for whatever he dropped, he redeemed with some impressive displays of coordination and soft hands. He managed to raise Danny Langsdorf's ire at one point though – there was a miscommunication between Vaz and Gwacham on what appeared to be a simple route. Gwacham went toward the sideline instead of his immediate right, which was where the ball was headed. Still, a good day for Boom.

    Technique – 8
    Hands – 8
    YAC/Possession Capability – 6
    Overall – 7.5

    Running with the 1's
    OFFENSE

    QB – Cody Vaz

    TB – Storm Woods

    FB – Michael Balfour

    TE – Connor Hamlett (TE/H-Back), Caleb Smith (TE)

    WR – Brandin Cooks (Flanker), Obum Gwacham (Split End), Kevin Cummings (Slotback)

    OL- Michael Philipp (LT), Josh Andrews (LG), Josh Mitchell (C), Grant Enger (RG), Gavin Andrews (RT)

    DEFENSE
    Defensive Line – Dylan Wynn (RE), Edwin Delva (DT) (lots of rotation behind Delva), John Braun. (Note: Devon Kell was in shorts today and did not participate)

    Linebackers – Michael Doctor (Strong Side), Joel Skotte (MIK), D.J. Alexander (WIL)

    Cornerbacks – Rashaad Reynolds, Sean Martin/Steven Nelson

    Strong Safety – Ryan Murphy

    Free Safety – Cyril Noland


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