CORVALLIS – The OSU offensive units had nothing handed to them on Friday, and turnovers were a theme for both QB's and RB's. Nonetheless, it was a solid day for the Beaver O, who shrugged off miscues and chugged right along. Questions persist at split end – and there may be a young gun emerging within the receiving ranks. The OL got pushed around more than usual, but it wasn't for lack of effort.
Practice Notes – Day 5
Special teams always takes the field first, and today Bruce Read's corps of kickers, punters and kick returners looked solid. The standout performer was senior place kicker Trevor Romaine, who squeezed one through the uprights from 47 yards out right before the offense and defense took to the turf.
Call me picky, but QB Sean Mannion could do to toss a bit higher to certain receiving targets – he was picked off by Tyrequek Zimmerman on Friday, after a tipped ball went over his intended receiver and into the hands of the starting safety.
Mannion saw most of his repetitions with the 1'S Friday, and had yet another day characterized by a so-so performance. He was a tad off to start, but rallied during the latter portion of the day and started fitting in some tight throws. If I were to offer a grade for his accuracy on Day 5, he would receive a B. Consistency across the board remains as Mannion's primary bugaboo so far..
Cody Vaz has seen better days offensively. On one drive, the senior QB was staring down a target -- Cyril Noland read him like a pop-up book and picked it off for what would have probably been six if it would have been live. Vaz seemed to make a habit of not looking off defenders and checking down Friday afternoon.
With Mannion and Vaz rotating for time on the 1's regularly, it has become difficult to pick out who Riley may have already tabbed as the starter. Vaz still had some issues with delaying in the pocket, but aside from some little inconsistencies and the previously mentioned INT, he looked about average.
Damien Haskins and Storm Woods both displayed some neat power-running skills on Day 5. The additional beef Woods has packed on has made it easier for him to bounce to the outside after initially meeting with contact toward the interior - whether it is a white or black jersey he bumps into - and he sure is looking like starting material from this chair. With a slightly bigger body, he is putting his head down more often and using ‘the pile' to his advantage, kind of like a makeshift screen.
Terron Ward was having another good run of practice until the slippery running back had some slippery hands -- and fumbled the ball to the defense. This is not a common happenstance for Ward, quite the ball hog. To the best of my knowledge, Ward's muffed carry is the first legitimate fumble that the RBs unit has experienced this fall.
Mike Riley was pacing the sideline watching TE's run around when Brent Vanderveen laced a nice throw into one of Kyle DeVan's crew. It was impressive enough that Riley remarked on how far the freshman signal caller has come along, even hinting that he could "be a guy" down the road.
The tight end unit had another good outing on Friday, one that impressed Riley at least. As he watched Devan's troops practice route running and receiving, he commented on the speed of Dustin Stanton and the sure-handedness of Kellen Clute.
Junior TE Tyler Perry came in and ran hard on Day 5, despite being popped a good one by freshman safety Justin Strong during yesterdays practice. Perry did not appear to be fazed by the contact he experienced on Thursday – good news for a player who has had bad luck with injuries during his time as a Beaver.
Caleb Smith and Connor Hamlett did it all on Day 5. The duo not only navigated routes with precision when going through the motions of practice, but they had clean grabs during skellies and 11-on-11's coupled with some adept blocking. It's hard to find too many qualms with this pair of TE's.
Hayden Craig has also improved his catching and is moving a hair faster than he did during the spring. He only dropped three pounds between fall camp and OSU's spring session, but with increased confidence and self-awareness, some of those physical capabilities that earned the walk-on a spot on the roster are starting to show. His blocking is also worthy of note, as the 6-3, 259-pound sophomore has the frame to be really physical down on the line.
Wideouts Richard Mullaney and Obum Gwacham yet again shared time at split end on Friday, with Mullaney receiving the lion's share of reps with the 1's by my count. One thing about Mullaney that cannot be stressed enough -- how damn physical he is out there. His ability to get position on a DB and shut them out of the passing lane is one of the main reasons why quarterbacks find him so frequently. Additionally, Mullaney's no-fear policy regarding contact with a defender is partially responsible for his talents in the red zone.
Not to be overshadowed, Gwacham had an impressive run of Day 5. His hands are much less troublesome that they were in the spring and he too is starting to reap the benefits of making some more contact with the guy across from him. It's going to be a hard decision for Riley and his staff to make when it comes to naming "that guy" at split end for the opener.
Redshirt freshman Malik Gilmore filled in as the primary slotback while Kevin Cummings was getting friendly with the sideline due to his hurt hammy. Micah Hatfield also continues to see time as the No.2 flanker behind Brandin Cooks – both Hatfield and Cooks used their speed to create space and a range of targets for the likes of Mannion, Vaz, and Vanderveen on Friday.
Freshman WR Victor Bolden remains active with the 2's in a variety of roles. From what I've gathered, seems like the coaching staff is rather high on him, because he has been seeing significantly more action than his counterparts (Jordan Villamin, Hunter Jarmon and Walter Jones) from the 2013 recruiting class through the first five days.
My take on the SE job is that with Gilmore, Gwacham and Mullaney, whoever truly proves his mettle and versatility as an athlete – not just a receiver – is going to win that starting split end role. OSU appears to be looking for a guy who can do more than just catch and run. Every college receivers coach loves guys who can block and block handily.
OSU's O-linemen – both the 1's and 2's – got pushed around a little today. There was a lot of good penetration by the defense as well, and the side of the line that got worked the hardest was that manned by Grant Enger and Gavin Andrews.
Michael Philipp, Josh Mitchell, Sean Harlow and Justin Addie held tough and blocked with some veracity on Friday. Harlow made a big splash during the spring session, but has been a bit under the radar after five days of fall camp. Is he biding his time? Or is there less need for him to stand up and make some noise now that Gavin Andrews has officially received that starting nod at tackle?
Harlow, Addie, Nolan Hansen and Grant Bays are constant fixtures with the 2's – is this the O-line of the future?
Rashaad Reynolds and A.J. Hedgecock did not participate in practice today. They suited up in their normal practice attire, but did not run drills or receive reps in the secondary. Whatever the maladies, they didn't appear serious.
Jovan Stevenson tweaked his hand/fingers toward the very beginning of practice on Friday. He was in visible pain when he ran over to a trainer, who proceeded to work his hand in a fashion very similar to relocating some popped phalanges. Stevenson walked off the field shortly thereafter, only to return later with tape on the middle and index fingers of his left hand.
Cummings, who tweaked a hamstring during yesterdays practice, sported sweat pants and no pads on Friday. He did not run drills, but his sitting out is likely more of a precautionary measure, and the injury does not appear serious.
Running with the 1's
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Storm Woods
FB – Tyler Anderson
H-Back – Connor Hamlett
TE – Caleb Smith
LT- Michael Philipp
LG- Josh Andrews
C- Isaac Seumalo
RG- Grant Enger
RT- Gavin Andrews
FL –Brandin Cooks
SE – Richard Mullaney/Obum Gwacham
SB –Malik Gilmore