CORVALLIS – Day 11 was low key, but it was by design – Thursday marked the third day Oregon State ran without pads this spring. Center Isaac Seumalo returned for a few snaps, wide receiver Micah Hatfield got some love from Mike Riley and the defensive secondary had another impressive day. One would think that, sans the pads, the day might be light on details, but that would be wrong...
The Daily Riley – In Brief
"We did a little bit of installation, and a lot of just playing," Mike Riley said. "They have to learn to practice like this. It's good for them."
And practice was by no means short of interesting little tidbits.
Practice Notes – Day 11
Since Thursday's practice took place with no pads, it provided an opportunity for Isaac Seumalo to return and see some time on the "starting" offensive line at center. Riley indicated that, had the team been going full pads, the sophomore probably would not have seen playing time.
Tyler Perry was off crutches today and moving around the practice field. He did not participate in team drills.
Storm Woods was present at practice but he didn't see much action today. On that note, the offense ran a high volume of pass plays on Thursday – both Terron Ward and Storm Woods saw limited looks with the 1's and 2's.
Sean Mannion saw most of his time behind center running with the 1's on Thursday. He put on a decent performance overall.
Cody Vaz struggled to connect with his receivers during Day 11, especially when he saw quick pressure. Vaz did a good job of sniffing out the blitz, but when the heat was on him he made some questionable decisions and had difficulty properly leading his receivers. Thursday was one of the senior's least accurate days since spring ball began.
When the offense and defense ran skeleton formations, the secondary dominated. They were practically glued to receivers for a good portion of the drills. Obum Gwacham, Micah Hatfield and Malik Gilmore experienced a good amount of heartache, and very little breathing room. The dry spell was finally broken when Mannion connected with Kevin Cummings, who pulled away from defenders and managed to go pylon.
Spotlight on the WR's – Micah Hatfield
The senior has been getting a lot of looks as of late, and his role is increasing this spring in terms of contributions to the offense. Can we expect Hatfield to continue along this path and take the next step toward more playing time in the fall? According to the man in charge…
"Yes, he is in the process of doing that. He has definitely had a good spring," Riley said. "He is a candidate at Z – he can back up Brandin (Cooks) out there. We're going to give him an opportunity at X, and he should know enough even if he played the slot position."
I heard "Way to go J.C.!" come from Brent Brennan's mouth a few times today. J.C. Grim has been a bit overshadowed by the likes of Gwacham, Cummings, Cooks and Hatfield. Should he expect to see playing time in 2013? Probably not. But practice makes perfect and he could very well be a weapon in the future.
On the whole, it was a stellar day in the secondary. Receivers had to work hard for their catches, and tipped passes were frequent. With that being said – some of the younger members of the secondary still showed signs of confusion when it came to certain protections, and it lead to more receptions than d-coordinator Mark Banker and secondary coach Rod Perry would have liked.
This was particularly true of Steven Nelson and Cyril Noland. There was one play where Nelson was supposed to run man coverage, but he ended up running zone and Brandon Cooks notched a pretty sideline grab as a result of the misunderstanding.
Noland is a mixed bag of sorts - an aggressive athlete, agile and talkative on the sidelines. But he still has issues with pass recognition and does not always play his assignment as close as I would deem comfortable. Still, he is young talent and good things take time, even in football. I see Noland as weapon a year or two from now - and spring ball 2013 as a teaser of good things to come from the young safety.
The linebacker trio of Joel Skotte, Michael Doctor and D.J. Alexander did not have a banner day defending "the short game". Tight ends were potent weapons when it came to going over the top of the ‘backer squad.
The defensive line did not get off easy during Thursday's practice. Joe Seumalo sounded like he was drilling some of his players on their knowledge of the playbook, and much of the work the D-line experienced had to do with particular techniques and angles that Seumalo and Co. hope to implement in the future.
Rashaad Reynolds and Steven Christian both snagged an interception Thursday. Reynolds had a sweet grab off of Mannion toward the tail end of practice, and Christian wrapped up a Vaz zinger that was deflected and practically expressed mailed into the hands of the fifth year senior.
The Gwacham Grading System
Gwacham was looking very strong at the onset of practice - primarily when he wasn't being defended. But adding a defender into the mix seems to do something to Gwacham, and I've mentioned before that he is not very inclined toward making contact with the guy standing across from him. While Gwacham has developed a more physical style of play, he still shies away from the more aggressive aspects of his position, and it ends up leading to missed opportunities.