Day 11: Departures, arrivals and more

CORVALLIS -- Good news has tended to mingle with the bad at every turn for OSU this fall camp, and a well executed practice on Friday culminated with news that two players have left the team for personal reasons. A pair of injured players returned to the practice squads, Mike Riley is taking a look at a potential walk on wide receiver to compensate for a of depth at that position and much more.

No major surprises, just consistent football down until the final huddle, and the offensive line continued to steadily improve as a group.

Gone for Good: Senior defensive tackle Mana Tuivailala and sophomore offensive lineman Michael Beaton left the team for personal reasons, effective as of today.

New Blood: Riley did not reveal the name of the young man standing alongside Brent Brennan's corps of wideouts earlier today at practice. Apparently the Beavs are hoping to add some depth to receiving ranks, and this kid could fit the bill – but he will not make an impact during fall camp. "He has not cleared all the hurdles (to participate) yet," Riley said, in explaining why he can't talk about him yet. "So he will just be watching practice for now."

Injury Report Day 11: Senior defensive end Rusty Fernando and freshman offensive lineman Gavin Andrews both returned to the field today after sitting out for the better portion of the first half of camp. Fernando saw some limited work with the 2's and defense, and Andrews saw action with the secondary offensive line unit.

RB Terron Ward remained on the sidelines for the second full day in a row, nursing a tight hamstring.

TE Caleb Smith continues to sit out, and Riley says it will remain that way for awhile. "I'm afraid it's going to take him some time to get back," Riley said. "For a freshman, missing as much time as he has – it's a lot of plays. So we will have to see." Smith, while he was healthy, looked to be the type of player that could have had an immediate impact for the Beavs – his size and strength are still greatly needed in the tight end platoon.

Senior safety Anthony Watkins remains out, favoring a hip flexor (today marking an entire week without any participation in team drills for the projected starter). Riley told Watkins not to return until he was fully healthy, and it looks like that day is swiftly approaching. Watkins ran at full speed alongside Kendall Hill today – both looked fresh while they did basic training drills as their teammates practiced today.

And the hits keep coming for a Beaver secondary that is slowly but surely dwindling in number, at least in terms of a consistent practice squad. Tyler Hasty (right quadriceps), Steven Christian (unclear, had a slight limp) and Chris Miller (unclear) all looked on today as the rest of team ran drills.

Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Desmond Collins sat out today, favoring his foot.

Position Changes/ Tweaks: Riley seems to be honing in on his definitive list of 1's and 2's a little more every day, and it was particularly evident during Fridays practice - the player rotations were not as sporadic as they had been at the beginning of the week and there was a definite system to how Riley and crew were orchestrating transitions.

Offensively, there were a few slight tweaks here and there. Jordan Jenkins, Storm Woods and Malcolm Agnew all shared time on the 1's.

Kevin Cummings and Obum Gwacham shared time in the slot, and Gwacham even saw some time as the X when he ran with the 2's.

Richard Mullaney ran with the 2's pretty consistently today as well.

There were some interesting moves on defense today, specifically within the linebacker squad. Rueben Robinson did not see any play on the 1's, but with the 2's he manned the strongside linebacker position as Joel Skotte took over at MIK and Caleb Saulo ran on the weakside.

Robinson made the transition back over to MIK when the 3's (or "the young guys" as Riley calls them) took the field. Jabral Johnson continued to fill in minimally for D.J. Welch on the strong side for the 1's.

Also seeing more time on the 2's has been freshman defensive end Noa Aluesi. He has played the weak side end slot behind Dylan Wynn for the last three days in a row.

Practice Notes Day 11:
Offense:

Quarterback - Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz were their usual selves today. Consistent passes, Mannion's accuracy improving almost daily – he has really trained himself on how to fit passes into small gaps on the field, something he struggled with constantly last season and even a bit toward the inception of fall camp. Vaz is making small strides in taming his deep passes.

Tailback - Today belonged to Malcolm Agnew and Storm Woods. The offensive drills and 11-on-11's were not particularly run-heavy but when those two got the ball, they read their blocks and hit open gaps with precision. Agnew on one play took it right past stunned linebackers Feti Unga and Jabral Johnson, into the defense's secondary, and jetted upfield for what would have been an easy six.

Woods' break-neck speed and considerable agility served him well. He managed to bounce to the outside behind Justin Addie and Michael Philipp (on the 2's) and blow past defenders, heading up field for a touchdown.

And therein lies Woods's ultimate strength at the position – guys just have a hard time catching him, pure and simple.

Tight End - Not a good day at all for the tight end corps -they missed most of their blocking assignments during 11-on-11's, with the rare exception of Colby Price getting low enough to not topple over as soon as a defender engaged him. Connor Hamlett and Dustin Stanton also struggled against the soft blitz packages thrown at them.

Three times during practice Riley got on the group's case for poor technique and missed assignments - the last of which resulted in him suggesting that the whole group just take a seat on the bench.

The rare exception to this general display of mediocrity was Tyler Perry, who set a good block for Jenkins with the 2's. But Perry saw limited action with the offense otherwise.

Wide Receiver - Obum Gwacham is coming on as a receiver. The last two days have seen him getting the ball into his hands with less difficulty the earlier in fall camp, where it often looked like Gwacham was struggling to hold onto the rock like it was a live fish and his hands were covered in olive oil. But he is multi-faceted and possesses a number of attributes that are real weapons for a wideout.

Gwacham also sets strong, swift blocks for the run game in the secondary. His sheer size and height make him a good match against most corners and safeties trying to stuff the run. Gwacham set a solid block on Tyrequek Zimmerman this afternoon that allowed Woods to eke out some additional yardage on a toss play.

Offensive Line - A continued work in progress to be sure, but things are looking much brighter as camp progresses. The return of Andrews is negated in terms of additional depth with the departure of Beaton, but the overall o-line group (especially the 1's) is coming together.

"We are just working hard on our fundamentals and our blocking schemes," said Mike Cavanaugh. "They are working hard together. (Teamwork) is huge. All of them have to be on the same page, communicating."

Philipp in particular has stepped up his performance, much to the enjoyment of Cavanaugh, who has coached Philipp since he first made a splash his freshman year.

"I'm exciting about Michael now that he is practicing the way he should have his whole life." Cavanaugh said with a grin.

Defense:
Defensive Line: Turning our eye to the 2's for a nice change of pace – Aluesi and sophomore lineman Joe Lopez really played with vigor today. Lopez is probably the best option as a No.2 defensive tackle behind Castro Masaniai and Andrew Seumalo. He is incredibly strong, and shows that he is aware of how to use his size (and height) to his benefit.

Lopez stands at 6-0 and is the shortest player on the OSU defensive line. But he uses it to his advantage by getting low into his blocks and catching offensive linemen off balance by applying his technique to their midsection instead of their shoulders. The result on Friday? During drills Lopez got past his blockers every time, (including at one point Grant Enger and Isaac Seumalo).

Aluesi has been seeing consistent time on the 2's at the defensive end slot, despite the fact that looking at him, you'd think he is better suited to play basketball. Aluesi (6-6, 276) is a stringy looking DE but he is damned fast and has a well honed technique that gets him around blocks with ease. Aluesi is a key (young) cog in the new defensive paradigm for the Beavs that emphasizes speed over girth.

Linebackers: Unga and Doctor played very well today, holding their assignments and closing up most of the outside running lanes before they got too massive. Unga's strength, it can be said, lies within his aggressive style of play. He is quick off the snap and even quicker to the ball (when he knows where it is). He hits hard and accurate when he is aware of the play going on around him, which was generally the case this afternoon.

But, as mentioned often – his aggression is also his fault, and it will need to be better utilized (not necessarily toned down) if he is too make a big impact moving forward.

Freshman Joel Skotte is really stepping it up out on the field – he has is seeing a lot of playing time at the MIK slot (on the 2's). He is a bit small to be truly effective right off the bat, but Skotte displays the raw talent and play recognition at this stage in his young career to eventually be a starting linebacker (with considerable beefing up).

Secondary: Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy are stellar when it comes to closing on the ball in the run and short pass games.

Zimmerman is a bit faster, which often sets him up in the free safety slot in order to account for the long bombs that Mannion and Vaz have been practicing.

Peter Ashton also got really aggressive during red zone drills today, but he tends to not harness his enthusiasm in making that play on the ball, and twice today his defense would have resulted in pass interference calls in game.

Depth Chart Day 11

Offense:
QB- Sean Mannion, Cody Vaz

TB- Jordan Jenkins, Malcolm Agnew/Storm Woods

FB- Clayton York

WR- Brandin Cooks/Obum Gwacham, Markus Wheaton/ Richard Mullaney, Kevin Cummings

TE- Connor Hamlett , Colby Prince

OL- OT- Michael Philipp OG - Josh Andrews C - Isaac Seumalo OG- Grant Enger OT Colin Kelly

Defense:
DE Dylan Wynn DT Castro Masaniai DT Andrew Seumalo/Joe Lopez - DE Scott Crichton

OLB- Michael Doctor (Weak) D.J. Welch/ Jabral Johnson (Strong)

ILB- Feti Unga

CB- Jordan Poyer, Rashaad Reynolds

S- Tyrequek Zimmerman/Peter Ashton (free) Ryan Murphy (strong)


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