CORVALLIS – The second session of an OSU 2-a-day is usually quick and somewhat light on noteworthy details. Well, stuff that noise. Four interceptions and a big-time defensive effort characterized the second portion of Day 6 for the Beavs – the first two-a-day of the fall session for Oregon State. Offense and defense went head to head during third down simulations, some of which got pretty heated.
The practice was held in Reser Stadium, and it seemed to light a fire under Mark Banker's defenders.
Just shells Saturday night but substantial "thud" contact – meaning no tackling to the ground -- was still in play. Boy, was it ever. The Beavs practiced a lot of third-down passing situations, and just by virtue of having ‘third and five' and ‘third and eight' tagged onto a play gave the whole practice a sense of reality.
Sean Mannion was having a much better run at the latter half of Day 6 than Cody Vaz, and the junior saw the bulk of the time with the starting unit yet again. He did. however, throw one interception -- smartly nabbed by CB Steven Nelson -- during 7-on-7 drills.
Mannion also managed to draw half of the starting defensive line and a few linebackers offside on a hard count that could have fooled even the wide receivers, had they not known better.
Vaz's throws were largely off target, and he threw three interceptions – two of which could have been easily avoided. One was to safety Micah Audiss, the other to freshman D-lineman Noke Tago on a really horrible looking attempted screen pass. The third could easily be considered the mutual fault of Vaz and Jordan Villamin. Vaz threw too high, Villamin leaps but couldn't hold on, and the ball fell into the hands of cornerback Larry Scott.
But from this chair, brilliant work in the secondary was certainly the highlight of Saturday's second practice. Cyril Noland continued to fill in for Tyrequek Zimmerman at safety and Scott, Nelson, Malcolm Marable and Audiss all stayed tight in coverage, while Ryan Murphy was his usual standout presence.
Marable also laid a sideline block against WR Victor Bolden that had his defensive teammates going wild.
The tight ends and h-backs -- Kellen Clute, Dustin Stanton and Connor Hamlett -- stood out most for the offense Saturday night. The trio made some nifty grabs despite being pretty well covered all night long. Stanton was electric on a few plays, moving with impressive speed through the defense.
Tyler Anderson returned for the second half of Day 6, but participated minimally. He iced his knee for a significant portion of the evening.
Mike Cavanaugh was very vocal. Generally, that is a sign that his OL needs to step it up – both the 1's and 2's did struggle a bit more during the second session than they did in the morning practice.
Very few running plays Saturday night, as most of the focus was dedicated to third-down passing. However, a few run plays did get called and they worked quite well. Still, Storm Woods, Terron Ward and Chris Brown mostly got their work in executing their assignments in the passing game.
Prior to going full steam ahead at the offense, the Beaver stop corps under assistants Mark Banker, Trent Bray, Joe Seumalo and Rod Perry focused mostly on the fundamentals and techniques in third down looks.
Some rotating occurred on the defensive line for both the 1's and 2's, but not as much as has been seen previously. Wynn and Crichton got quick, sometimes easy penetration coming off the edge and DT Mana Rosa ignited a combination of frustration/excitement from Joe Seumalo with how close he was coming to stopping a play in its tracks.
Tago's interception was the pinnacle of the evening for the defensive linemen under Seumalo, hands down.
Zack Robinson had a strong evening in the secondary as well. I've noticed an increase in his presence on the field, and that is not only due to more reps. Robinson has been a playmaker here in the early going and he manages to make some eye-opening stops from time to time.
At linebacker, D.J. Alexander, Jabral Johnson, Michael Doctor and Rommel Mageo were all pretty fired up on Saturday night. When they saw playing time, there were always pretty close to the ball. The TE's seemed to be the only squad that could get legitimate leverage on the ‘backer unit in the open field.
The Beavers also worked on their nickel package. Sean Martin looked noticeably proficient there, taking care of his responsibilities and patrolling in the back forty quite nicely.