DAY 7, SESSION 1: Player moves & Vaz heats up

CORVALLIS – One of the Beav quarterbacks vying for the starting job was cracklin' sharp on Monday. The O-line lost a member of its squad to retirement, and a wideout made a position change in the offensive scheme to better support the depth. Is a decision at hand for the starting split-end role? Some important notes from Mike Riley and much more are also on tap in this offensive report on Day 7.

David Keller has retired from football, said Mike Riley. Keller, a 6-3, 314 pound sophomore who transferred from Fresno State in 2012, sat out during the Beavs' 9-4 run last year due to NCAA rules. Keller, an OT, suffered an injury last fall that limited his progress as an O-lineman behind Michael Philipp.

Keller's departure from the program does take a swipe at the depth of Mike Cavanaugh's current slate of blockers, but it shouldn't be a loss the Beavs struggle to recover from.

In other news, redshirt freshman wideout Malik Gilmore has made what sounds like a permanent switch to slotback behind senior Kevin Cummings.

The transition not only adds depth to a slotback position that desperately needed fortification, but also provides a strong physical player for what Riley and Danny Langsdorf are looking for in the slot.

"Kevin has been out with a hamstring, and we are very thin there (at slotback)," Riley said Monday. "We are probably going to leave him (Gilmore) there. We are trying to look at two-deeps and he has a chance to be two deep in slotback and I think he can be pretty good.

"We've got a couple guys with (Richard) Mullaney and (Obum) Gwacham out there at X, and Micah (Hatfield) and of course Brandin (Cooks) at Z - if we can get that two-deep looking good (at slotback), we will probably leave Malik there."

Riley pointed to Gilmore's physically aggressive blocking as something that made him particularly appealing at the slot.

Gilmore's movement also gives more clarity to who will officially be duking it out for playing time at the starting split-end – that tussle is reserved for Obum Gwacham and Richard Mullaney now.

Notable Note 'n Quote
On the defensive side of the ball, Dyllon Mafi becomes yet another member of Trent Bray's linebacker unit that has been absorbed by the defensive line of Joe Seumalo.

A senior, Mafi saw the vast majority of his time as a scout team ‘backer this past season and spring.

"Mafi is a versatile guy. He might see some lineman play as a specialist, like a third down guy," Riley said. "He has got some pass rush skills, and he is pretty slippery off the edge so he might find a way to get on the field on third down."

Mafi saw some action on the DL during third down scenarios on Monday, making some quick moves into the backfield that had QBs forcing throws. Jaswha James earlier this camp moved from linebacker to d-end.

Practice Notes – Day 7
Offense -

  • From this chair, quarterback Cody Vaz had one heck of a day behind center. Despite throwing one interception toward the end of practice that Larry Scott snagged, Vaz's passes were largely on target and frankly, looked damned good. He and Brandin Cooks seemed to be dialed into one another – the duo connected on numerous occasions both long and short. Vaz's more precise throws typically ended up in the hands of No. 7, and Cooks' ability to gain separation also makes any QB look good at times. Vaz much of this camp has not thrown well when his receivers are tightly covered but that wasn't the case today.

  • Sean Mannion had a decent day himself, it was more that Vaz was just in a zone. The two are still dead even in my book over the whole of fall camp. Mannion's biggest drawback has been his consistency issues -- and in my opinion they have to do with his mechanics not always being sharp. He also has the type of release and body language that arguably can make some throws predictable -- he seems to struggle when he needs to look off a defender.

  • Mullaney, Micah Hatfield, Will Hopkins (who Riley said had a toe injury), Tyler Perry and Kevin Cummings all stayed put on the sidelines with injury concerns on Monday. Cummings suited up and took part in huddles, but did not run any plays, handing the designation of No.1 slotback over to Gilmore for the day.

  • The way Riley made it sound in the media huddle on Monday, Mullaney has got some serious work to do if he wants to earn the title of starting split end. Riley stressed that keeping a talented athlete like Mullaney healthy is obviously key to their success, but OSU's head man also noted that Mullaney being out all of last spring and part of this crucial period in fall camp has been detrimental to his progress as a go-to-guy.

    So what is Riley looking for from Mullaney? He said speed off the snap is one of the things most lacking in Mullaney's game at the moment, and that injuries prevent a guy from training/participating as much as they need to in order to correct those mistakes.

  • Does this mean Gwacham has the upper hand? At this point, I would have to say yes. The more repetitions Gwacham has seen, the better he looks. His hands are much less clumsy than they were during the time of the ‘Gwacham Grading System' last spring, and his route running has gotten much better compared to seasons prior.

  • Gwacham's hops are superior to that of Mullaney and for that matter, just about anybody in Brent Brennan's receiving corps. Gwacham is by no means a complete package – yet. But all things considered, the junior may truly be the best option for OSU moving forward. Gwacham has speed, and plenty of it – Mullaney needs to find vertical swiftness and a tad more agility. With more practice under his belt and more time spent training instead of recuperating, Gwacham is starting to look like the favorite. Day 7 was another above-average day for Gwacham – strong catches and smooth routes characterized most of his afternoon.

  • Tight End Caleb Smith returned to take reps with the 1's today. Smith was active for a significant portion of the session, except for a stint where he took a breather after limping away from 7-on-7 running drills where he served as a blocker. Apart from that brief respite, Smith was hustling all over the field and catching passes in his usual fashion. He also made some noise as a blocker, fending off the likes of Dylan Wynn one occasion.

  • Tyler Anderson also found his way back into offensive formations. For the better part of practice, Anderson was limited and didn't see many looks. In his stead, sophomore FB Michael Balfour stuck with the 1's and made nice catch that he turned upfield for additional yardage after gliding past a linebacker. However, toward the end of practice, Anderson reappeared and had a crushing run for a hard-fought gain that received cheers from his offensive counterparts.

  • The offensive line struggled to keep up with some of the speed that was being thrown at them by the D-line on Monday in pass protection. Between having to deal with basically a starting DL stocked with traditional defensive ends (Mana Rosa being the handyman at DE/DL), and rotating ‘backers Mafi and James who are seeing time in certain scenarios, the big guys up front were getting worked to the bone on Monday.

    That said, the middle of the starting o-line – Josh Andrews, Isaac Seumalo and Grant Enger – seemed to keep their assignments pretty well locked down during 11-on-11's. It was a different story for Gavin Andrews, who missed a few assignments and heard about it from Cavanaugh and GA Tavita Thompson.

  • But when it came to opening up running lanes on the day, the offensive line shone brighter than freshly polished chrome. During 7-on-7 "middle" drills, the starting OL wreaked havoc and generated some big holes for Terron Ward, Storm Woods and Chris Brown to move through. Michael Philipp is playing like a boss this fall camp, and could be on the verge of something special this season.

  • Both Kellen Clute and Dustin Stanton took advantage of their time with the 2's and demonstrated fair blocking and some soft hands. Connor Hamlett's role has been minimal as of late in the passing game. With the recent nipping and gnawing from the injury bug, it wouldn't surprise me if Hamlett was seeing fewer reps as a receiving option simply because OSU wants to try and ensure he's not dinged up heading into the season. Besides, blocking is not only "safer" at this point in fall camp, but it is also is the facet of Hamlett's game that needs the most improvement.

  • The running game was rather quiet Monday, as most team drills and skelly reps were allocated to the passing game. Ward and Woods were explosive when they did run, each picking up good chunks of yardage on the ground, but nothing out of this world either. Chris Brown made some nice grabs in the passing game, and his elusiveness in the open field is starting to take a turn for the better.

  • You can tell Brown has kicked it into a higher gear, potentially due to the addition of Damien Haskins to the troops. Brown has made substantial improvement since the spring in my book -- in his reads and also his ability to handle the pigskin. Keep an eye out for him.

    Running with the 1's – Day 7
    QB – Cody Vaz
    TB – Storm Woods
    FB – Michael Balfour/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 – Obum Gwacham
    SB –Malik Gilmore

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