CORVALLIS–Day Two of spring ball for OSU focused on helping players find a niche in the offensive/defensive schemes. There was some shifting of personnel on both sides of the ball and some position battles are heating up. Some looks at the offensive line, an update on the progress of Obum Gwacham, standout members of the secondary and more. All in all, Tuesday was just a great day for football.
When asked about how position clashes are going across the board, Mike Riley said that it was simply too early to tell one way or other with it being the second session and still helmets-only.
"It's a long term evaluation that has to do with consistency – doing the right thing and making good decisions," Riley said. "It's a conglomerate of all those small parts that helps us make a decision."
Other than that, Riley was mum on the topic of position skirmishes. So let's talk football.
New plays along with some run packages were the highlight of the first half of practice for the offensive 1's and 2's.
Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz practiced play action tosses at the onset of offensive drills. Perhaps more interesting was the aptitude both QB's showed while outside the pocket. They managed to hit receivers with accurate, powerful throws in QB rollout formations – this aspect of the position was something that Mannion in particular struggled with last season.
Garrett Weinreich remains inactive for spring due to a knee injury he incurred last fall. However, while the rest of the OL was practicing running drills with Mannion/Vaz and Co., Weinreich was on the sideline going over the fundamentals of setting strong blocks. Granted, it was against a large pad controlled by an OL assistant – but hey, practice makes perfect, right?
Obum Gwacham's hands continue to improve. He was commended by wide receivers coach Brent Brennan for looking the ball into his hands and waiting to turn up field until the ball was secure.
Malik Gilmore had a rough go, characterized by a few dropped passes and some ill-timed route adjustments that left the wideout in poor position.
Richie Harrington is shaping up nicely as a scout team QB. Both his accuracy and throw power show signs of improvement when compared to what I observed during last fall and OSU's Alamo Bowl prep.
Roman Sapolu and Josh Mitchell got a lot of looks today while filling in for Isaac Seumalo, who is taking it easy during the beginning of spring camp. Sapolu appears to have gained some weight heading into spring, and his blocking technique is stronger than that of Mitchell. At any rate, both players heard minimal criticism from Mike Cavanaugh.
D.J. Alexander (6-2, 228) has added some weight to his frame in order to look more like a ‘backer and less like a defensive back. In addition, Alexander saw time as both the starting WIL and strong side linebacker Tuesday, sharing time at each position with Michael Doctor. Alexander saw nearly all his time during the regular season on the strong side, so the fact that he is accepting some new duties this spring is an interesting twist.
The safety group ran coverage drills for the first half of practice. Cyril Noland, Ryan Murphy and Kendall Hill stood out most, and the trio was all praised by Rod Perry for blanketing the field and showing good speed to the ball.
Malcolm Marable may be 5-7, but do not discount his ability to defend passes. He has some of the best closing speed in the OSU secondary and manages to get a hand on the ball even if he is caught out of position. Marable plays like he is hungry for playing time and if he keeps up this pace, he could be in the running to earn some of it come fall camp.
Steven Nelson, Micah Audis and Steven Christian – the latter was running with the 1s today – had a hard time covering deeper passes Tuesday afternoon.
Joe Seumalo is not taking mediocrity lightly this spring – John Braun drew the ire of the OSU defensive line coach and saw his day with the starting unit end early after consistently failing on an assignment during D-line drills.
Mana Rosa replaced Braun at LE after the senior was relegated to the group of players not participating in drills with the 1's.
Spotlight on Some of the Position Battles CB – Steven Nelson and Sean Martin are both jockeying for a shot at playing time, and it is already ramping up. Martin was very aggressive to the football today and covered a lot of turf when defending passes lobbed his way by defensive drill coordinators. Nelson showed that he may not quite be adjusted to the heightened level of play at OSU – the former JUCO player put together a solid day, but struggled in sticking faster assignments and he had some issues reeling in catches. Day Two goes to Martin.
WR – Gwacham had a heck of a day. If he keeps improving in the way Riley and Brennan think he is capable of, he could put up some serious competition come fall camp. Gilmore, on the other hand, struggled with his mechanics and did not see as many passes as Gwacham.
QB – Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion split time equally on the 1's, and both looked quite sharp. These two were even when it comes to looking at the battle for the coveted starting QB slot.
Seumalo, who Riley said pre-spring is likely to be limited for the 15-practice session, played briefly with the 1's toward the inception of practice. There were scattered appearances between Andrews and Enger throughout the rest of the day at center. The rest of the work Seumalo experienced was with the scout team, and even then his time equated to just a few snaps.
Special Teams Notes
Both Dustin Stanton and Hamlett participated in special team's drills today, blocking the ends from blitzing corners during simulated field goals. Their roles as effective blockers can only be enhanced by the presence of GA Kyle DeVan as the Beavs' new tight ends coach – can we expect them to make a significant contribution and provide a solid pocket around kicker Trevor Romaine?
DL – Dylan Wynn (LE) Edwin Delva (DT), Siale Hautau (DT), John Braun/Mana Rosa (RE)
LB – Michael Doctor/D.J. Alexander (WIL), Joel Skotte (MIK), D.J. Alexander/Michael Doctor (Strong Side)
CB's – Rashaad Reynolds, Sean Martin
SS – Steven Christian
FS – Ryan Murphy