OSU DAY 14: Youth gears up for Spring Game

CORVALLIS – The final practice before the OSU Spring Game saw more bites from the injury bug that has made its home with the Beaver football squad, including a member of the special teams unit. We have some updates on Chris Brown, and a young corner snags an INT. The offensive and defensive lines partake in an end of spring ritual, and Mike Riley lends us his insights on what we'll see tomorrow.

D.J. Alexander sat out of practice on the final day. The reason? A concussion for the junior linebacker, and he isn't the only one.

"Yeah – we've got a couple of concussion symptom guys," Riley said. "Storm (Woods), Trevor Romaine and D.J."

Romaine's concussion was the result of an "off the field accident" according to Riley. Judging by the grin on Mike Riley's face upon divulging this information, and the laughter that followed the announcement, the kicker's "accident" may have provided some comic relief for the team.

In more serious news however, Kendall Hill sat on the medical bench for the majority of Thursday's practice session with a brace on his right leg. Riley indicated it was a knee injury. It does not appear as if the redshirt freshman - who sat out all of last season with a similar affliction – will be playing in tomorrow's spring game. Riley indicated that rehabilitation is in the young safety's future – he will only be 100 percent after the training staff has given him the go ahead.

"He (Hill) is a great kid and he worked really hard to get back," Riley said. "And I know he will work hard, but for the moment that has got to be disappointing (for Hill)."

Riley hopes that at the bare minimum, the spring game will give his players a chance to showcase their talent and have a little bit of fun.

"I think it's a chance for them to play in a situation that feels somewhat like a game," Riley said of tomorrow's showdown. "For some of them it will be the first time they really get to do that. (I'm looking for) how they handle all that and still be able to perform and make themselves and our team look good – that's important."

  • Storm Woods, David Keller, Trevor Romaine (ST), Garrett Weinreich, Richard Mullaney and Tyler Anderson make up the list of injured players that will not be seeing any action in the spring game.

  • Isaac Seumalo saw his share of snaps with the 1's on Thursday. While it isn't quite safe to say the sophomore is good as new, he appears to have alleviated most of the strain on his elbow that left him limited for a good portion of spring ball.

  • Sean Mannion (2's) had one of his better days throwing. The junior put some pepper on the short tosses, and finesse on a few bombs that routinely found their mark.

  • Cody Vaz (1's) on the other hand had a mediocre day. He managed to hit a few receivers in stride, and fared well on the shorter passes, but on the whole Vaz's final day of spring ball lent itself to overthrown/underthrown passes, poor pocket presence and some wobbly tosses.

  • Chris Brown has been seeing more reps these last two practices due to the Woods concussion, and has looked more and more like a capable ball carrier. Brown is likely to see a lot of looks during the spring game, as Terron Ward is the only other available tailback and Riley has made it quite clear that many starters/playmakers will not be seeing an overwhelming amount of reps on Friday.

  • Redshirt freshman Ricky Ortiz made the shift from the tight end group to the fullback squad at the onset of spring ball. Today, Ortiz looked pretty good as a playmaker in the open field –quick feet and good vision saw the third string fullback achieve a 10-plus yard gain after a pass found him in the flat Thursday.

  • Malik Gilmore had one of his more impressive days this spring. Seems like a little tough love courtesy of Brent Brennan had its desired effect – the redshirt freshman wideout reeled in quite a few passes on Day 14 and showed he is becoming better at making reads past those first 5-10 yards.

  • Obum Gwacham was a bit of a deep threat Thursday – Mannion lofted a gorgeous pass into the air as Boomer was streaking down the sideline. Gwacham had a defender glued to him, yet he still managed to pull down Mannion's high-arcing bomb for a gain of over 30 yards. Much of the work Gwacham has seen this spring has revolved around the short game and midrange routes – it was a nice change of pace seeing the 6-5, 227 receiver make some noise in the deep game.

  • Tyrequek Zimmerman, Scott Crichton, D.J. Alexander, Siale Hautau and Kendall Hill constitute the defensive injured list.

  • In a slightly bizarre twist, the offensive and defensive lines switched roles in the trenches during trench battles today. I say bizarre, because very rarely does one see Michael Philipp use a sweet swim move to blow past a blocker, or Dylan Wynn pushing up against the shoulders of a blitzing pass blocker. "We do that on the last practice of the spring game," said d-line coach Joe Seumalo, who then smiled and said – "I think we are better than (the offensive line) – now people realize what we do in Truax. We prepare ourselves for that one drill right there."

  • Kendall Hill's injury means that Cyril Noland and Micah Audiss will see the bulk of the playing time at safety come tomorrow's spring matchup. Both Noland and Audiss have earned the praise of Riley and Rod Perry this spring, and while they are still young and perhaps unaccustomed to seeing as many reps as they have been, Riley maintains that unexpected injuries such as the one Hill incurred have a silver lining in that it allows the coaches to see who can step up in the clutch. Both Noland and Audiss fared well in the secondary today.

  • Tyler Hasty grabbed an interception off of Brent Vanderveen on Thursday. It was a clean, leaping grab that left Hasty with room to run. Had the pick come in a game scenario, Hasty would have likely notched a pick-six.

  • Jovan Stevenson laid into Chris Brown toward the end of Day 14. The pocket was collapsing and Brown was the only open target – ball shoots to Brown, who makes a clean grab mid-air - Stevenson (a tailback turned corner) was right there and cracked Brown before his feet touched the ground. It was a resounding hit that could be heard well away from the collision.

  • Joel Skotte drew the praise of Trent Bray for getting quick and efficient penetration against the offensive line on Thursday. Skotte's competition for playing time, Josh Williams, made some strong plays with the 2's as well.

  • There was a lot of shifting of personnel occurring on the defensive line during Day 14. Devon Kell saw a lot of work at defensive end, as did John Braun and Lavonte Barnett. Akeem Gonzales, Mana Rosa and Ali'i Robins also made an impact on the line, getting quick pressure on a couple downs and forcing QB's to wiggle around in the pocket.

    *Special Teams
    With Romaine out, who kicks? Riley Harper, Ryan Cope and Garrett Owens are all listed as place kickers on the OSU roster, and Riley indicated that one or two of them will be seeing time on the field tomorrow, replacing Romaine.

    "We've got a pretty good idea about Trevor," Riley said. "And the other three kids will get to kick more."

    The Gwacham Grading System – Day 14
    Strong day for the junior. From this chair, Gwacham is finally shaping up to be a reliable wideout for the likes of Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz. He has developed slightly better hands, has steadily become a more physical receiver, and has earned more positive feedback than criticism from Brent Brennan these past few practices. Is he a starter yet? I would say no – but fall practice may tell a different tale depending on the status of Richard Mullaney.

    Technique – 6
    Hands – 8
    YAC/Possession Capability – 8
    Overall – 7.3

    Running with the 1's

    QB – Cody Vaz

    TB – Terron Ward

    FB – Michael Balfour

    TE – Connor Hamlett (TE/H-Back), Caleb Smith (TE)

    WR – Brandin Cooks (Flanker), Obum Gwacham (Split End), Kevin Cummings (Slotback)

    OL- Michael Philipp (LT), Josh Andrews (LG), Isaac Seumalo (C), Grant Enger (RG), Gavin Andrews (RT)

    Defensive Line – Dylan Wynn/Devon Kell (DE), Edwin Delva (DT) Brandon Bennett/ Mana Rosa/ Ali'i Robins (DT), John Braun (DE)

    Linebackers – Michael Doctor (Strong Side), Joel Skotte (MIK), Jabral Johnson (WIL)

    Cornerbacks – Rashaad Reynolds, Sean Martin

    Strong Safety – Ryan Murphy

    Free Safety – Cyril Noland/Micah Audiss

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