CORVALLIS – The offense may have had a decent run but Tuesday's practice belonged to the Beaver D. Indeed, it is easy to see the Oregon State defense is hankering for some good, old fashioned football contact. The thing was, they went a little overboard on Day 8.
They want to hit, and they want to hit hard. That said, the black-clad defenders seemed to be getting too antagonistic on Day 8, and it drew the ire of Mike Riley and various other coaches on Tuesday. We'll have more on that after the practice report.
Practice Notes Day 8
Brandon Bennett - a sophomore defensive tackle seeing reps with the 2's along with junior DT Edwin Delva – was very vocal on Tuesday. He made it clear on one play that he did not want anybody crossing the pylons through the middle for six. Bennett has been finding his stride of late, and he has been on the receiving end of increased reps as a result. Bennett, sometimes lining up at the nose, and Delva lined up adjacent to one another on Tuesday and established a consistent push against Derek Mitchel, Grant Bays and Justin Addie.
One of the more exciting duos Joe Seumalo put out on Tuesday was the aforementioned Bennett and Delva. The d-tackle spot is still a healthy concern of mine but Delva is getting better, and Bennett can be downright slippery. His technique is vastly improved, and he gives the interior O-line some heartache when he is amped in the way he was today.
The defense continued to work on their nickel and dime packages on Tuesda. With Rashaad Reynolds, Malcolm Marable and Sean Martin incapacitated for the day, some young guns showed up to defend passes and try to halt some crafty runs. Corner trio Larry Scott, Naji Patrick and Dashon Hunt put in a hard day's work, running multiple sets and maintaining some sharp coverage in the secondary.
Junior corner Steven Nelson showcased his endurance on Day 8 – with so many corners sidelined, Nelson was his own back-up half the time. Scott filled in for Reynolds and had another impressive day defending the pass and cutting off routes before they could fully develop.
Junior strong safety Ryan Murphy and his cohort, junior free safety Tyrequek Zimmerman have been tearing it up in the secondary as of late, and they've been moving around, making it difficult for the offense to account for them. Zimmerman was a brute, and got a solid bead on running backs who were trying to sneak into the open field.
Murphy worked his tail off as always, but also took some time to school the likes of safeties Zack Robinson and Cyril Noland on the trick to defending a tight end in the open field whilst keeping track of the fullback in the flat.
Noland didn't just defend the pass Tuesday. He snuck in on Sean Mannion with a designed safety blitz that seemed to catch the junior signal caller off guard. If hitting had been allowed, if Mannion didn't have a ‘Don't hit me" sign on his back, Noland almost certainly would have leveled him. The redshirt freshman's successful rush came against the secondary offensive line unit.
With the general mix-n-match approach to the secondary on Day 8, Robinson was one of the few steady fixtures at free safety with the 2's, where he did struggle against TE's but otherwise played well.
Solid defensive penetration was not in short supply Tuesday, as starting SAM Michael Doctor got really fired up and brought the house during some of the short range drills down in the red zone – he cut through with ease on a few plays and got right to the heart of run plays.
True, the blitz worked well for OSU ‘backers on Day 8, but they did have a hard time trying to stifle the run while practicing some of the newer defensive schemes and packages. Doctor and WIL D.J. Alexander were the two primary ‘backers in the nickel, with Doctor seeing most of the time in dime formations. The TB runs were infrequent, but successful enough when called - proof that even Doctor and Alexander have to rehash a few things before they are ready to take the field later this month.
Second-string LB Jabral Johnson and starting MIK Joel Skotte were the tandem assigned to run the nickel package with the 2's. Johnson got a lot of praise from Trent Bray and the linebacker unit for his effort Tuesday – he always had his motor running and finished every play. Johnson was another one of the guys who made it a habit of getting a smidge to aggressive when covering his assignments, but with some of these younger players seeing extensive reps for the first time, it comes down to being able to curb the enthusiasm and "learn how to practice" in the way Riley mentioned over the weekend.
It was a pretty low key day in the books for defensive tackle Siale Hautau, who shared time on the 2's with Bennett but failed to make a big statement. Hautau may have everything Banker and Seumalo look for in a nose tackle, but he will need to focus on small steps and saty healthy in order to come to the forefront of the Beaver D.
Tuesday represented Dyllon Mafi's second day as a member of Seumalo's defensive line. The senior LB-turned-DE was inserted into the defense for a few reps, where his speed off the edge threw the offense off a few times.
Sophomore Ali'i Robins was also inserted with the 2's with more regularity. The 6-2, 284-pound defensive tackle has been quiet to this point.
Running with the 1's – Day 8
DE – Dylan Wynn
DT – John Braun
DT – Mana Rosa
DE –Scott Crichton
WIL – D.J. Alexander
MIK – Joel Skotte
SAM –Michael Doctor
CB- Larry Scott
CB- Steven Nelson
FS – Tyrequek Zimmerman
SS – Ryan Murphy
A couple quick thoughts on the extracurricular activities.
Riley had to yell at Zimmerman and Nelson for getting overly physical -- mostly with prized offensive weapons Cooks and Woods.
If you are an offensive coach, heck yes you are worried some of your guys could suffer an injury as a result of unnecessary hits in fall camp. If you are Mike Riley, you are sometimes nervous when guys start going at it too much. But if you are Mark Banker, you probably understand.
Half-speed practices force the players to remain a lot less corporeal. It's like asking a kid not to squish the Army of ants invading his room then leaving him in that room with a sledgehammer and a sugary drink. Confusing, to say the least.
Still, it teaches restraint, which is just as much a part of football as the big hits and pulverizing sacks. But the OSU defense stood out quite a bit on Tuesday – and for reasons other than its inability to restrain itself here and there.