DAY 12: Banker, Perry, Bray all weigh in

CORVALLIS -- Mike Riley was absent on Day 12 of the Beavers fall camp – Mark Banker called the shots and at session's end, there were water balloons involved. But a slew of Beaver players remained inactive during practice today and the defense is still in the midst of rebuilding, says Banker. Still, we asked the OSU d-coordinator who is standing out on D and he had no shortage of names to offer..

Banker Sums It Up – No B.S.

"It (the defense) is a bit more than a work in progress," Mark Banker said. "I think the parts are starting to come together – we have grown so much over the course of the offseason and into the spring. I think we are beyond some of the more fundamental issues."

Mike Riley was attending his father's funeral service.

The water balloon fight was spirited, and likely designed as a good way to get the players to blow off some steam headed into an off-day. The players didn't just take aim at one another, a few coaches got wet, too.

Injury Report Day 12

RB Terron Ward returned to work today. He ran well – seeing work on the 1's and 2's. Ward had missed a few days favoring a tight hamstring.

Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Desmond Collins showed up to practice with a brace around the lower half of his right leg. Collins left practice early Wednesday evening on a cart. The severity of the injury is unknown at this time.

TE Caleb Smith was back in action after missing nearly a week of practice time with the tight end group. Smith had been experiencing "concussion symptoms" and was not allowed to return until cleared by the training staff. Smith had a rusty day – something to be expected after missing as much time as he did.

WR Micah Hatfield, OT Derek Nielsen and FB Clayton York took a break from practice today too, amongst a number of other Beavers who appear to be taking physical wellness breaks. However, Hatfield did look to be in some pain at times as he made his rounds of the field.

S Chris Miller was again an observer today as the safety group ran drills. Miller was also on the "concussion symptoms" list.

CB Jordan Poyer did not adorn pads this afternoon. Mark Banker and Rod Perry both said that Poyer is fine, just taking a breather day. Poyer has indeed been a veritable work horse throughout camp – he has seen extensive time on the 1's (and 2's) and continues to work with the special teams unit. Poyer is expected to return on Monday after the Beavs' off-day on Sunday.

S Anthony Watkins remains out, the duration of his already lengthy stay on the sidelines still subject to speculation.

DL Mana Rosa was also in shorts sans the pads this afternoon, but showed no serious signs of injury.

Sean Martin stepped off the practice field about an hour into the day and was favoring his left leg a bit as he made his way to the sidelines. It appeared nothing too serious, merely a strain perhaps, but one can never be too sure these days. Martin remained on the sideline for the duration of practice.

DB Steven Christian was back on the field today after leaving practice Wednesday evening on crutches. Christian had a solid day and saw some time on the 2's.

Position Changes/ Tweaks:

Saturday was the subject of a lot of rotation in the defensive line, specifically with the defensive tackles. Joe Lopez saw more time on the 1's than 2's, and played the part well, smashing tough the middle on a few occasions. Lopez has been improving steadily since the beginning of camp, and is starting to look like a real option backing up Castro Masaniai at nose tackle.

The redshirt freshman Brandon Bennett also saw some time on the 1's, although he was mostly in the middle with the 2's. Defensive line Coach Joe Seumalo had to correct Bennett on his technique a few times, but otherwise, he played really well.

Devon Kell spent a considerable amount of time with the 2's today, and had a bit of a rough performance, struggling to make an impact on numerous runs in his direction.

Rudolf Fifita, who has been seeing more action on the 1's recently, backing up for Dylan Wynn, also had a tough time getting to the ball carrier on hand-offs, but otherwise demonstrated good technique and an ability to get into back field pretty quickly.

John Braun put in a good effort backing up Scott Crichton today, and both defensive ends had a strong overall performance. The general theme of the day was to get everyone a little work in, and sharpen up some key fundamentals prior to heading into the latter half of fall camp.

With Martin out for the day and Poyer in shorts, senior Brian Watkins saw a lot of work with the 1's and 2's. Watkins was aggressive and quick to the ball, managing to knock down a few passes from Cody Vaz.

Malcolm Agnew saw the majority of his carries on the 2's today, as Terron Ward and Jordan Jenkins occupied the 1's.

Practice Notes Day 12:

Offense:
Quarterback: It was another windy day on the practice field, and it had a big effect on the accuracy of passes from Richie Harrington and Brent Vanderveen when the young guys were in to finish out practice. The wind was less of a factor during the first half of practice – Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion had an easier time of it.

Vaz and Mannion did not see as much action today – 11-on-11 drills were brief and sporadic - but when they did it was good football.

Mannion is starting to look more comfortable moving around in the pocket, and even moving outside of it to open up the offense a bit. Vaz is certainly more adept at it, and has the upper hand still when it comes to throwing on the fly – but Mannion moved around with ease today and got off some good short passes while on the run.

Tailback: Terron Ward looks like he is over the stressed hammy, and he had a good practice this afternoon. Ward is a talented option – and it shows in his running style. His legs never stop moving until he is on the turf.

Riley said earlier this fall that Jenkins is the most reliable and versatile tailback in the backfield. So far this fall camp, Jenkins has seen numerous carries on the 1's and 2's, as well as his share of passes.

Jenkins is not the type of back to break off huge chucks of yardage on every down – but he knows how to read a defense and move the ball fairly well.

Agnew and Ward were rather quiet today, mostly due to the tail end of player rotations for the week.

Fullback: With York out, Tyler Anderson saw all the work on the 1's and set some strong blocks on Feti Unga and Jabral Johnson. We also got a closer look at the redshirt freshman Michael Balfour. Balfour saw a little work with the 2's and even caught a pair of passes, not going very far after either reception, but showing up nonetheless.

Tight End: This was a strong end to an otherwise mediocre second week for the tight end corps.

They did not see a lot of looks in the passing game, despite being in on many of the passing drills, but they ran well -- especially Tyler Perry and Connor Hamlett. We mentioned Smith earlier, and as noted he didn't see extensive work today and he looked a bit rusty.

As a group, the tight ends have consistently struggled with establishing good blocks alongside the offensive line. Today was a better bid on their behalf.

Hamlett and Colby Price both got low into a few blocks and helped hold off Wynn and Crichton. Hamlett faired particularly well against Fifita when it came to holding off the D-line.

Wide Receiver: Again, it is hard not to mention how well Brandin Cooks has done up until this point. He put on a show today alongside Markus Wheaton.

Cooks has serious acceleration off the line, and it continues to result in him getting almost immediate separation from his defender. On top of that, Cooks is a downhill runner – he gets momentum and just zips away, even against the likes of Poyer. He may not be as much of a physical target as Gwacham, Mullaney or Cummings – but he is a complete receiver and his motor is always gunning.

Freshman walk on J.C. Grim also stuck out in the crowd today. He made some good plays and got physical with his defender.

Offensive Line: Another impressive day for the 1's and 2's up front.

Colin Kelly and Grant Enger had a lot of good pushes against Crichton and Andrew Seumalo.

Isaac Seumalo continues to look like he belongs in the starting center slot, his technique is really effective against defenders of any size. Seumalo is one of the few guys on the line that has proven he can marginally disrupt Masaniai and Lopez single-handedly.

More hard work form Michael Philipp and Josh Andrews – the absence of Nielsen afforded the freshmen Grant Bays and Nolan Hansen more looks on the line.

Defense:
Riley and Banker have both mentioned that in order for the Beaver defense to be truly effective and successful in the future, some leaders would have to step up for on D. We asked Banker who has assumed that role thus far..

"The first two guys that come to my mind are Crichton and Poyer," Banker said. "And now all of a sudden we add (Ryan) Murphy into the crowd, and Feti Unga. Michael Doctor (has been) more vocal because he can back it up a little more."

Banker went on to list both Lopez and Andrew Seumalo as others who have stepped up and added some fire to the defense during fall camp.

Good news for a unit that is also "a bit more than a work in progress."

Defensive Line: The last two days have been a little rough for Dylan Wynn. Today he got a bit riled after failing to make it around Philipp and Andrews on multiple occasions.

Otherwise, Wynn has been a big presence in the backfield. Wynn has also been assuming a leadership role with some of the younger guys on the defense.

If Lopez continues in his current fashion, he could very likely be making an honest bid for significant playing time come football season.

He has a solid technique and good reaction time off the snap. He is also patient – rarely jumping the gun when the offense attempts to draw a defender offside.

John Braun put on a good show today working with the two's behind Crichton/Wynn. He plays somewhat like Crichton – quick push and an even quicker roll around the edge of a block.

Linebackers: "Today we were average. Overall I think it's been a great deal of improvement," GA/linebackers coach Craig Bray said. "I've been happy with them all fall camp as a collective."

It was a low key day for the Beavs on Saturday, so an "average" practice from this chair is probably nothing to sweat over. Still, a position coach is rarely satisfied and low key or not, Bray saw plenty of room for improvement.

"Today was a little sloppy," said Bray. "Just missed some easy stuff you know – proper angles, stuff that we just need to stay focused on all the time."

NOTABLE NOTE: Bray rates his linebackers run stopping ability at an 8 (on a scale of 1-10) in the event that they had to play in a game tomorrow.

Unga has looked sharper the last two days, demonstrating more complete awareness of the play in front of him and making more of an impact against the run.

"We can always be better," Bray said. "He (Unga) has improved a lot, and for him it's been about discipline. He is understanding, ‘Where I have to show up first before I get to the ball'. Last year he was trying to make every play on the field - there were times where he was making the ones he wasn't supposed to."

Secondary: The secondary under Rod Perry had a good practice today.

Perry said he is still stressing the fundamentals to his players, and will continue to do so all the way through fall camp.

He's also pleased with the success that Tyrequek Zimmerman has seen backing up the injured Watkins in the safety slot.

"He is athletic enough, he just has to keep learning consistently," Perry said. "He is a physical guy, he has some pass rushing ability, and he will tackle."

But is he ready to fill in for Watkins if the hip flexor continues to act up? Only time will tell.

Ryan Handford and Malcolm Marable were crisp today, both showing good acceleration off the snap and fair closing speed. Christian returned to see some time on the two and managed to keep pace with Cooks pretty well.

Depth Chart Day 12:

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:
DL- DE Dylan Wynn – DT Castro Masaniai – DT Andrew Seumalo/Joe Lopez - DE Scott Crichton/Rudolf Fifita

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

ILB- Feti Unga/Rueben Robinson

CB- Sean Martin/Brian Watkins/Malcolm Marable - Rashaad Reynolds

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


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