PRACTICE REPORT: Banker talks D

CORVALLIS -- Instead of a game tomorrow, OSU will practice. But the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Beavers postponed home opener against Nicholls State did not affect the team's performance in practice today, with some fluid and strong football from both the offense and defense. Mike Riley and Mark Banker talk game preparation and more in light of the tweaked schedule.

"It really feels like we should be playing now," Mike Riley said. "Especially after watching the games last night - but this was a really good practice for this team today. If they keep this up, we will be good (against Wisconsin)."

Yes, valuable game experience against a live opponent has been lost. But Riley will always find a silver lining.

"It is great lesson (for the team) right now," Riley said. "We were all ready to play, and it was pretty exciting. But it's not going to happen, so let's go – and I think that these guys have responded well."

When asked if he would allow for a higher level of contact during tomorrow's practice to better simulate a game situation, Riley shook his head.

"Well you know we had a great interior (line) drill today that was all full speed stuff," Riley said. "Then we went 24 plays as a team, and that was all full speed except for taking people to the ground. We are going to get some fast hard work in so we can stay tuned for full-speed stuff."

Defensive Coordinator on Friday Mark Banker wasn't much for silver linings when talking about last season.

"We played like a bunch of Pop-Warner guys in the back end last year in that the first thing we saw, we jumped on it, and next thing you know it's a double pass. Those are the kind of things that we miss that mess with our schematics. We can't have that," he said.

So what's the answer for 2012?

"The biggest thing is not so much the aggressiveness - blocking schemes and what not," said Banker. "Number one, it comes down to the communication and the chemistry - and that idea of truly getting ready for a game that initial first quarter - the emotional part of it. We still need be able to play within the defense without going all haywire mentally because we are so excited to play."

Injury Report Colby Prince participated in the majority of Friday's practice, but headed off the field early into team drills with pain in his left shoulder. Prince separated the shoulder earlier and missed about a week of fall camp.

Obum Gwacham remained in shorts for the third day in a row, although he is expected back soon. Gwacham experienced a foot injury earlier in camp, but does not appear to be in any serious pain.

Garrett Weinreich turned up at practice today with a cast and heavy tape on his left leg. Weinreich suffered a serious knee injury in fall camp and Riley is hopeful that after surgery, Weinreich will be able to return and play for the Beavers next year.

J.C. Grim went to the sideline today with what appeared to be a less than threatening injury, perhaps a strained muscle in his leg. Grim did not participate for the remainder of practice.

Depth Chart: The 1's

OFFENSE –
Quarterback: Sean Mannion

Tailback: Storm Woods/Malcolm Agnew

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

DEFENSE –
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: The 2's
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

OFFENSE:
Quarterback: Mannion had a good day throwing the ball despite an interception thrown to Reynolds. He has tightened up his passes and looked better throwing under pressure. Mannion looked particularly good today while throwing in the red zone – most of his throws were on target and he had to thread the needle quite a few times to get passes by defenders who were playing tight man coverage.

Cody Vaz, despite throwing a pick today, has also been improving. He is a smart quarterback, who shows the ability to make plays whether he is stationary or on the move.

Tailback: Agnew and Woods had some nice runs today with the 1's and 2's. Agnew was with the 1's in some 11-on-11 drills, and took one carry for a "touchdown.: But Agnew also struggled with catching the ball today. While Woods did not see as many looks in the running game, he performed much better in the receiving game. He cut through the 3's on defense like a knife through butter on a regular basis.

Tight end: A quiet group on Friday. Colby Prince caught a few passes before retiring to the sidelines favoring his shoulder. Smith blocked a little better today, but still needs to improve his technique in order to be truly successful as a tight end. Connor Hamlett saw looks on the 1's and 2's, and also pulled in a few catches.

Offensive Line: The 2's and 3's struggled today for the offensive line, but the 1's had a good performance, and managed to give Mannion and Vaz some pretty ample time in the pocket.

Colin Kelly and Josh Andrews held their blocking assignments down, and Andrews especially looked to be getting the upper hand leverage-wise against lineman and linebackers alike.

Aggressiveness is not always a favorable trait in a lineman, it can lead to false starts and missed assignments. Philipp needed to get more aggressive on his blocks at the onset of fall camp – he looked ill-prepared and susceptible to quicker defensive linemen. But he's starting to hit his stride now, with a lot more aggressiveness the snap. He has been moving faster and his technique has improved, and he hardly moves a muscle on the line until the ball is snapped.

DEFENSE:
Defensive Line: Communication on D has been an emphasis and Banker dished out praise to Dylan Wynn and Scott Crichton on Friday -- saying that they have improved since last year in both stopping the run and getting quick pressure on the QB to force an interception or at least a bad throw. But…

"We (the defensive line) have got to emphasize tackling," Banker said. "Tackling on the run, angle tackling, open field tackling – the whole deal. Especially looking ahead to Wisconsin, tackling will be a big focus."

Masaniai, Lopez and Andrew Seumalo, along with Wynn and Crichton, have all had their moments disrupting plays in the backfield. On Friday, Masaniai and Seumalo blew through the 2's and 3's on the offensive line without much effort and frequently disrupted the timing of pass plays.

Wynn and Crichton combined for 66 solo tackles last season (118 total) and Banker expects them to raise those stats significantly in 2012. He has been increasingly confident in his two-deeps on the defensive line -- a good sign considering Banker has coached some of the most prolific Beaver linemen in his decade long tenure at OSU.

Linebackers: Banker has very high hopes for D.J. Welch at the strongside backer slot.

"We have a guy (in Welch) that we as a staff feel could really be a difference maker in our history as a linebacker," Banker said.

Welch has been developing his game slowly and has been most focused on the fundamentals. He is an obvious talent with speed and awareness and if he continues on his upward path, and puts a little bit of weight on, he could be a dynamic ‘backer for OSU.

Akuna, Robinson, Skotte and Johnson continued to make plays for the backer corps on the 2's. Akuna had an interception today off of a bad throw from Richie Harrington. Both Robinson and Skotte have been playing tighter pass coverage and have been getting better at slowing down running plays, something both struggled with earlier in the fall.

Secondary: Brian Watkins and Reynolds had big days. Watkins batted two passes from Mannion on the same drive, and was more than capable of keeping up with Wheaton on routes.

Reynolds got a pick when he read Mannion's eyes perfectly and adjusted to the route by Cooks. Reynolds and Cooks caught the ball at the same time but it was Reynolds who had the strength to rip the ball away from Cooks right before the pair headed out of bounds.


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