DAY 15: In the trenches, and who redshirts?

CORVALLIS -- Mike Riley called the final huddle Wednesday about 30 minutes early on what was a relatively calm day for the Beavers. That is not to say there was any shortage of hard work – both the offense and defense shined in red zone drills. And the offensive line continues to develop, despite a dogged injury bug. How about the newcomers – who will redshirt and who will play early?

O-line coach Mike Cavanaugh was absent today due to shoulder surgery, so Mike Riley assumed control of the offensive line.

"Well, me and everybody else," Riley said. "We (the coaching staff) are all taking part in it. The good thing is that right now we are doing a lot of team stuff, so everyone is kind of around one another."

Today also marked a day closer to the coaching staff making a final decision as to who will be redshirted during the regular season.

"We have got a pretty good redshirt list," Riley said. "So in the next couple days (a list will be released). As far as the coaching staff – we have about a 90 percent idea (about who will redshirt).

The injury bug struck again today as three players had to come out early with minor bumps and bruises. But Riley is not one to worry about it.

"Well you know my goal now is to get them (the injured players) back," Riley said. "But we still have to practice. Stuff happens but I'm trying to limit those kinds of (injuries)."

Injury Report Day 15:
Redshirt junior defensive lineman Blake Harrah sat out today with a cast around the lower half of his left arm. A return date was unknown.

Redshirt freshman Desmond Collins stood adjacent to Harrah for a good portion of practice, adorning a brace on his right leg instead of pads and walking with a limp. Collin's return does not yet have a date.

Storm Woods retired to the sideline within the first hour of practice, nursing a small scale injury on his right foot. He iced the foot for a good twenty minutes before putting on socks and walking around – Woods did not participate for the remainder of practice. Woods did not seem to be in any serious pain.

Colby Prince took a knee with the training staff after apparently tweaking his right arm. He was attended to by the staff and wore a thin brace on his arm and was done for the session.

Colin Kelly complained of strain in his left arm after running a few blocking drills against the defense. Kelly did not participate for the rest of practice but looked healthy and ready to go as he stood on the sideline.

Jordan Poyer and Derek Nielsen returned to the field this afternoon.

Kevin Cummings and Obum Gwacham remained out of commission today – Gwacham with a nagging foot injury and Cummings with an injury to his arm.

Position Changes/Tweaks
For the most part, the 1's were the 1's, and the 2's were the 2's today with the exception of guys filling in for injured players. Riley and crew are now nearing the inevitable phase of depth chart production – the days of frequent rotation are now drawing to a close.

Freshman offensive lineman Gavin Andrews filled the void left by Kelly during the latter half of the day's first practice. Andrews held his own against the likes of Scott Crichton and Devon Kell.

Connor Hamlett and Caleb Smith filled in on the 1's in the absence of Prince. Tyler Perry saw increased time with the two's in lieu of Hamlett and Smith seeing extended work the 1's.

With a receiving corps trio out due to injury (Hatfield, Gwacham, Cummings), freshmen Malik Gilmore and Blair Cavanaugh saw a hefty amount of looks on the 2's. Both showed some lack of discipline when catching the ball and turning upfield – Cavanaugh especially had a series of drops. But both players were quick to get open and also set some good blocks for the run – a surprise for Cavanaugh, who at 5-8, 168 might be the smallest guy on the team.

Joe Lopez saw a small amount of time on the 1's, subbing in for Andrew Seumalo.

Practice Notes:

Offense:
Quarterbacks – Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz had one of their better showings in terms of red zone offense today.

Both lifted the ball into the end zone with precision and rarely overthrew a wideout. One thing on Mannion – toward the beginning of camp (especially within the first four days) he was decent, but inconsistent. Riley was sure to call him out on it whenever appropriate too. But this last week has been rather positive in that respect for Mannion -- he has been increasingly efficient. The same can be said for Vaz. They both know their job and look good doing it.

Tailback: A relatively low key day for the running back corps, due in part to Riley's decision to call practice early. But Agnew did have a 75-yard run for a touchdown this afternoon.

From what I saw of Woods, he is currently still a good bet for No.1 or No.2 in the ongoing running back battle, which is expected to be settled within the next few days. But as up and down as the RB battle has been, it doesn't pay to count the extra points before they clear the goalposts – Malcolm Agnew, Terron Ward, and Jordan Jenkins have all had strong showings in camp thus far, and from what Riley have implied, any one of the four could potentially grab the starting job. And it may all be moot anyway, as a running back by committee approach seems to still be on the table.

But what about…? Chris Brown? Brown has looked just okay to date. Nothing eye popping by any means, but Brown is a coach's player who seems to learn quickly and has solid ball control. He is an asset to the team at this point, but has seen comparatively few looks to the volume of carries between the aforementioned tailbacks. Bottom line -- he has developed well to this point but shows that he still has a significant amount of learning to do.

Wide Receiver: With the two primary competitors for the slot wideout position currently out due to injury, Richard Mullaney has seen a lot of playing time with the 1's there. He continues to perform well and is a gifted athlete – something that is abundantly clear when he participates in red zone offense.

Mullaney and Brandin Cooks are both standouts when it comes to making plays in the red zone. Cooks displayed astute awareness of the sideline and twice managed to barely plant his feet in the edge of the end zone for a "touchdown" against Sean Martin.

Offensive Line: Today was a good day for the O-line, they opened up a lot of running lanes and having Nielsen back in the line up only helped. It hasn't been pretty the entire time, and there have been a veritable slew of four letter words blast from the mouth of Mike Cavanaugh, but they are working together and being louder/more aggressive on the field.

Leaps and bounds from Day One they are not, but the Beavers' starting offensive line have improved their performance (and endurance) since the inception of fall camp. You may have noticed that for the last week and a half, the attention has slowly drifted away from Isaac Seumalo being the best player on that line.

The reason for the spotlight slightly drifting away from Seumalo? Teamwork – the OSU O-line has been performing as a cohesive unit, not as ‘Isaac Seumalo and four other guys that pick up after him.' Seumalo, Kelly, Grant Enger, Josh Andrews and Michael Philipp have all been doing their jobs better.

Defense:
Defensive Line: The defensive line seemed to get the upper hand more often than not during run drills. They did not necessarily beat down the opposing lineman every time, but both the 1's and 2's gave a strong push on nearly every snap.

The 1's and 2's all seem to demonstrate a good grasp of their duties in certain packages. Joe Lopez has been very vocal over the last few days – he and Dylan Wynn have an ability to breathe life into the defensive line with their aggressive style of play.

Particularly impressive to date has been Rudolf Fifita. He plays with tenacity and is quick to get around the corner of a block. Similar build to Crichton and a similar style of play make him a valuable No.2 at defensive end.

Linebackers: A much better day today in run pursuit for the linebacker ranks. Michael Doctor and D.J. Welch both played the run well coming off the outside, and Doctor even had a "sack" against Mannion on a hypothetical third down and six.

Welch still struggles at times with his proficiency stopping the pass, but has been getting his hands in the face of the quarterback with more regularity and seems to be developing a solid technique for moving around opposing tight ends and offensive lineman.

Welch's speed is undeniably his best weapon at this juncture, and he has learned to hone that gift and not overreact to the ball while a play is developing.

Secondary: Poyer returned with some flare today and encouraged his fellow teammates to hustle the entire time. Naji Patrick and Marable both demonstrated improve capabilities defending the pass in the red zone.

When asked about how he felt about his depth at cornerback this year, Rod Perry just smiled. "When I was with coach Tony Dungy (in Indianapolis), he used to always say ‘next man up', so we always pride ourselves on having everybody ready and in place – to have the development of younger players and play winning football."

Brian Watkins and Sean Martin have been stepping up their game lately, and Perry commended their efforts.

"Martin has really been playing well," said Perry. "You have Watkins and Handford too making progress), and Marable is coming along. We've got a good group to work with; we just need to keep getting better."

Depth Chart Day 15:

OFFENSE
Quarterback: Sean Mannion

Tailback: Malcolm Agnew, Storm Woods

Fullback: Tyler Anderson

Tight End: Colby Prince/ Connor Hamlett

Wide Receiver: Markus Wheaton (X), Brandin Cooks (Z), Richard Mullaney (Slot)

Offensive Line: OT- Michael Philipp OG - Josh Andrews C - Isaac Seumalo OG- Grant Enger OT – Colin Kelly/Gavin Andrews

DEFENSE
Defensive Line: DE – Dylan Wynn, DT – Castro Masaniai, DT – Andrew Seumalo/Joe Lopez, DE Scott Crichton

Linebackers (OLB): Michael Doctor (Weak), D.J. Welch (Strong)

ILB: Feti Unga (or Taumoepeau)

Cornerbacks: Jordan Poyer, Rashaad Reynolds

Safeties: Tyrequek Zimmerman/Anthony Watkins (Free), Ryan Murphy (Strong)


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