CORVALLIS – Over on the defensive side for the Beavers on Day 6 of fall camp, one player has taken a few steps forward in the box and switched units. A senior backup is beginning to show signs that he might have had a corner-turning offseason and figure in more prominently in 2013, youth was served plus there might be the beginnings of some movement at one of the defensive position battles.
Practice Notes – Day 6, Session 1
Jaswha James has officially made the switch from linebacker to defensive linemen. James, a 6-2, 245 pound sophomore listed on the OSU roster as a linebacker, has spent time with Joe Seumalo's gang working as a defensive end on the 2's and scout team. Seumalo said the transition is not tentative nor temporary, but instead permanent. James did run with the 2's as a defensive end backing up Scott Crichton on Saturday. He looks like he's trying to absorb it all in at this point, but clearly the OSU coaches think he can be an asset there down the road.
Senior Devon Kell is looking more and more explosive at DE this fall camp. He replaced Dylan Wynn on the 1's a couple times on Saturday after Wynn slid inside -- there's been a lot of movement up front the past three days with guys sliding around. Kell got solid, quick position on his blocker, and used his long arms to keep more stout O-linemen from cutting off his lane to the QB. Those long arms also help him separate from an assignment quicker to cover runs around the edge he is defending. Kell isn't a huge d-lineman at 6-4, 246 – but he is learning to use his strengths -- speed, balance and most importantly, technique -- to his advantage.
Speaking of Wynn, he's becoming a more consistent fixture on the inside in certain situations, normally being utilized to give Braun/Rosa a break for a play or two. Wynn performed well again on the interior on Day 6 and is just as relentless as an occasional DT as he is a starting d-end.
Wynn's ability to successfully traverse these positions may not only soften the blow felt in the middle with the continued absence of Kyle Peko, it may mean Kell, who can ably play both the weakside and strongside end spots, might be the guy who fills Rudolf Fifita's vacated super-sub role. I originally figured that designation would go the way of Braun, but given that Braun is being looked at an interior starting lineman now, Kell might be that guy and he seems to be making that transition rather smoothly. Still no word yet on Peko or Charles Tuaau or when/if they may arrive.
Strong Safety Ryan Murphy is a huge weapon, pure and simple. Yet even a player with the obvious skill of No. 25 makes mistakes. A trip down memory lane occurred between LBs coach Trent Bray and Murphy after the junior dropped an easy pick that popped right off his chest. Someone yelled out that the drop was "Just like Texas." Bray turned around to look at Murphy on the sideline and zipped off a few one-liners -- Bray mentioned Nicholls State, where Murphy dropped an interception that ended up landing in the hands of the opposing receiver. It made Murphy think, and mention that he wants to stop missing those opportunities. Everyone has work to do.
Youngsters Cyril Noland, Larry Scott, Dashon Hunt and Zack Robinson all stood out today in the secondary. Scott continued to fill in from time to time for Rashaad Reynolds, and Noland saw time with the 1's along with Micah Audiss in order to replace the resting starting safety, Zimmerman. Both Hunt and Robinson earn looks intermittently, but when they do have a go at the offense they tend to make contact with the ball frequently enough. Robinson has a knack for making sure the ball doesn't connect with its intended target, and Hunt is certainly a well-developed ballplayer for a freshman. He just needs more practice, in my book.
Robinson is particularly effective against the short passing game, where he relies on long arms and decent closing speed to diminish gaps between him and a target. Being the biggest, most physical safety doesn't seem to be his bag – he seems to be a bit more of a tactician.
CB Steven Nelson had another strong day, and he might be making some gains in his position battle with senior Sean Martin for the starting CB gig opposite Rashaad Reynolds. Exhibit A -- Nelson is one of the few players who has managed to consistently keep pace with Brandin Cooks when the starting offense and defense collide. Cooks is a machine, yet Nelson manages to give him a run for his money more often than not. Above all, Nelson makes Cooks work for each yard he earns in practice, something that Martin's different style of play doesn't lend itself to as much.
In general, the 1's and 2's on the DL did their part to shut down what could have been some huge runs by RBs Chris Brown, Storm Woods and Terron Ward. A big reason why? Defensive tackle Siale Hautau had a standout day, swiftly plugging up holes in the middle of the d-line.
That said, John Braun and Mana Rosa continue to be the top dogs with the interior linemen. Both continued as the starting DT's on Saturday, and are adjusting well to their new-ish roles as starters on Seumalo's somewhat makeshift defensive line.
Another DT, Edwin Delva, has been quiet these past few days – at least, he hasn't done anything to catch my eye beyond getting his usual reps in with the big boys up front.
Running with the 1's
DE – Dylan Wynn/Devon Kell
DT – John Braun
DT – Mana Rosa
DE –Scott Crichton
WIL – D.J. Alexander
MIK – Joel Skotte
SAM –Michael Doctor
CB- Rashaad Reynolds
CB- Steven Nelson/Sean Martin
FS – Cyril Noland
SS – Ryan Murphy