PRACTICE REPORT: Beaver O and D rising

CORVALLIS – The latest word is Saturday's game with Nicholls State is still on – good news for a Beaver team that was wired in on the practice field. Sharp plays from the offense in the red zone and solid play by the Beaver d-line and linebackers were among the highlights as the 1's continued to work on likely game scenarios. OSU's head man also talked a little about what he expects come Saturday.

The latest from OSU on the potential game delay due to Hurrican Isaac -- including a possible Sunday or Monday scenario. Click here.

"There is a whole process to game prep, it's all about focusing on situations," Mike Riley said. "You focus hard a couple of days on first and ten (scenarios) - – and then another day you focus a little more on third down. Today we focused more on the red zone and goal line, and then tomorrow we put it all together."

Riley said the Beavs have been working a lot on running the ball as of late. When asked if the offense has fallen more into place since he named Storm Woods the starting running back, Riley smiled.

"Well, we are good against ourselves," Riley said. "I don't know – we will only prove that we can run the ball again when we do it in the games."

The running game looked particularly well tuned this afternoon - the whole unit played with verve and received praise from the coaching staff.

Injury Report:
With the exception of the usual suspects (Anthony Watkins, Garrett Weinreich, Blake Harrah, Desmond Collins, Chase Eldredge, Kendall Hill), Obum Gwacham was the only injured player occupying the sideline this afternoon -- a good sign for Riley and crew.

An injury bug had hit the Beavs halfway through fall camp and its bite was felt by many. But now the list is whittled down to a select few, none of which can be considered surprises at this point.

Depth Chart: The 1's

Quarterback: Sean Mannion

Tailback: Storm Woods

Fullback: Clayton York/Tyler Anderson

Tight End: Colby Prince/Connor Hamlett

Wide Receiver: Markus Wheaton (X), Brandin Cooks (Z), Kevin Cummings (Slot)

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

Defensive Line: DE – Dylan Wynn, DT – Castro Masaniai, DT – Andrew Seumalo, 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 (Free), Ryan Murphy (Strong)

Depth Chart: The 2's

OFFENSE: Quarterback: Cody Vaz

Tailback: Malcolm Agnew/Terron Ward

Fullback: Tyler Anderson/Clayton York

Tight End: Caleb Smith/Tyler Perry

Wide Receiver: Kevin Cummings (X), Brandin Cooks (Z), Richard Mullaney/Micah Hatfield

Offensive Line: OT - Derek Nielsen, OG – Justin Addie /Josh Mitchell, C – Roman Sapolu OG – Gavin Andrews. OT – Nolan Hansen

DEFENSE: Defensive Line: DE - Rudolf Fifita, DT - Joe Lopez, DT - Mana Rosa, DE – Devon Kell/ John Braun

Linebackers (OLB): Shaydon Akuna/Rueben Robinson (Weak), Jabral Johnson (Strong)

ILB: Rueben Robinson/Joel Skotte

Cornerbacks: Sean Martin, Brian Watkins/Ryan Handford

Safeties: Peter Ashton (Free) Steven Christian/Chris Miller (Strong)

Practice Notes:
Mannion looked game ready – pure and simple. He showed great command of the offense while working against the scout team. Even while under pressure and moving, Mannion remained accurate with his throws. Granted, the sophomore is no sprinter but he has been increasingly nimble in the pocket the more comfortable he's been. Mannion also threw clean, deep passes – a phase of his game he has sometimes struggled with since fall camp practices began.

Cody Vaz had a good day as well. He really showed up in the red zone thanks to some good play from his receivers. One thing on Vaz – he plays better while on the move. Some quarterbacks (Mannion include) can get really off balance while throwing in motion. But Vaz has a tendency to perform with more confidence and urgency when he is moving outside of the pocket and making plays open up in the secondary.

Tailback: Dynamic performances across the board today for the tailback unit. Agnew, Ward, Jenkins and Woods played today in a way that helped affirm Riley's sentiment from earlier in the week that the running crew had made the most progress since spring.

Each one of them made plays in the receiving game - Agnew and Jenkins in particular saw some big gainers.

Also worthy of note -- the continued improvement of the running backs' ability to pass block. Ward and Jenkins were already fairly skilled at that and have remained so -- Agnew and Woods came into fall a little less aggressive but as time has transpired, both have improved and helped create big-play opportunities for Mannion and Vaz.

Fullback: Tyler Anderson and Clayton York continue to do a time share on the 1's. York has tenure, and opens up big holes in the secondary when he can stay in step with his tailback.

York is not slow - but he is not as agile as Anderson, who shows skill at running the ball and making plays in the open field. The pair is (arguably) equal when it comes to their blocking ability. Anderson is quicker, York has better recognition of the defense and especially blitz packages.

Tight End: Solid day for the tight end corps, with a couple speed bumps. Jay Locey expressed his displeasure with Smith and Prince a few times for missed blocking assignments, but the number of lapses were fewer than they had been. Hamlett and Perry both had receptions that went for touchdowns. And to the credit of the tight end corps - they all know how to use their size to their advantage down in scoring territory.

Wide Receiver: Wheaton and Cooks continued to get space from their defenders and make big catches in the secondary. This pair has been on-point and improving since fall camp practices began. Cummings had a knack for getting separation from his defender today, coming up with big plays against Tyler Hasty on a few occasions.

Offensive Line: Riley's confidence in his offensive line seemed well founded today. They have been coming on since the beginning of the week, and continued to hold up blitzers during 11-on-11's in Wednesday's session.

Seumalo looks very comfortable snapping the ball. And perhaps part of the reason Mannion has been steadily growing more confident behind the wheel is related to the presence that Seumalo brings to the line despite his true freshman status.

Enger, Kelly, Andrews and Philipp have all looked their best this last week.

Philip and Kelly were doing a great job of pushing their guys back away from the line and at times, they are quick enough to get out and get to the second level blocks.

Defensive Line:
Riley and Rod Perry both said they expect to see a heavy contingent of run plays out of Nicholls State and if that is the case, it felt on Wednesday as if the starting defensive line would be ready.

Crichton and Wynn were very quick on their release from the line while rushing against the No. 2 offensive line. Both exploded around their blockers numerous times, getting into the backfield with ease and stopping plays for little or no yardage.

Seumalo, Lopez, Masaniai and Tago also put in a good effort, getting a good push through the middle and slimming up some running lanes that RB Chris Brown was trying to fit through.

Linebackers: The 1's for the linebackers were looking crisp. They have been sticking their assignments better and have been a regular force against the rushing attack when going against the scout team. Combined, Unga, Doctor and Welch had a minimum of five "tackles" that went for a loss during 11-on-11's.

Akuna and Skotte stood out today.

Skotte is very fluid at the MIK slot, and is not easily fooled by a quarterback's eyes when they try to look him off. He is a bit more adept at making plays on the pass as opposed to being a wall against the running attack – but Skotte moves well on the field and is quick to get to the ball carrier.

Akuna and Skotte are a nice complement to one another on the 2's. Akuna is a pretty strong guy, and he can be a dominant force in breaking through the lines to disrupt the run. He is often good in pursuit too -- a bonus because his aggressiveness gets the better of him from time to time.

Secondary: Zoom in – On Zimmerman. It looks virtually certain that Zimmerman will see the start on Saturday opposite Murphy, the other safety starter. Today marked another day with Watkins not participating and at this point, Zimmerman has seen more time with the 1's during the fall than Watkins has since practices began.

"I'm confident in his ability against anybody," Perry said of Zimmerman. "He had an outstanding spring and has come along very well during fall. I'm looking for good things from him."

Zimmerman is versatile, and his impact has been especially apparent when it comes to run support. Zimmerman is not the best at stopping a play before it happens – such is the bane of inexperience. But he is very good in pursuit of the ball and displays swift closing speed in the open field.

Another guy making some noise has been Peter Ashton, the redshirt freshman safety. He and Zimmerman both have demonstrated that they are well rounded athletes that fit the mold of Perry's coaching philosophy – be good at everything.

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