CORVALLIS – Wednesday's practice was all about the good, the bad and the injured. A key starter, linebacker D.J. Alexander, went to the turf halfway through practice. Still, football is a game of balance and the OSU defense took the incident in stride and put on a show, particularly in the secondary.
Meanwhile, a dinged up O-lineman spent Day 9 on the sidelines, paving the way for some of the lesser known names in depth chart, and the QB's had a rough day… But first to the news at hand.
Junior WIL D.J. Alexander
went to the turf Wednesday, seemingly clutching his knee though it was tough to tell for sure it was his knee or ankle that was injured or somewhere else on the lower leg. It was the first play of OSU's team drills, and it may have been a block gone wrong that turned into a man down.
Not hard to see why Mike Riley
was hesitant, even before Alexander's injury, about running a scrimmage Thursday with the "old guys." Riley may not even play any starters in Thursday's first official scrimmage of fall camp. We'll see.
Riley didn't know the extent of the injury immediately after practice, there are tests to be done. BF.C will keep you updated as OSU releases information.
Senior offensive guard Josh Andrews
was incapacitated on Day 9. He had a bad elbow according to Riley. In his stead were Josh Mitchell
and Roman Sapolu
It seemed pretty clear the coaching staff was in a sour mood at the end of their first session on Wednesday with Alexander getting injured, and sound bites were limited. And Riley cut practice way down on Wednesday, calling it quits for the veteran players around 12:50 p.m., with the newbies and scout team then only going at it for a brief period of time.
But hey, good stuff happened too! To whit…
Practice Notes – Day 8
I know I said there was good news as well, but I start these pieces off with QB updates, so you get no choice but a swift double dose of the bad. Sean Mannion tossed two interceptions, both snared by CB Steven Nelson. The junior quarter back ran with the 1's and had an off day. During another set of short yardage simulations in the red zone, Mannion tossed the ball away twice, as did Cody Vaz, and wasn't hugely accurate on Day 9.
That little thing called consistency was lacking for both Vaz and Mannion on Wednesday. There were some good throws they made – plays that are as familiar to the QB tandem as my fingers are to this keyboard. But anything slightly new or when hurried and they were either tossing it away or playing it very safe.
To be fair, both Vaz and Mannion had a small volume of clean passes down inside the 25-yard line on Wednesday. Vaz tossed a strike in perfect position for Connor Hamlett to reel it in, even with a defender wrapped over his shoulders. Vaz's target crossed the pylons in the process.
By far the most outstanding offensive effort in the red zone came on a lob to fullback Tyler Anderson. Anderson leapt into the air and came down with the ball cleanly and inbounds. It was a stunning catch in good coverage, and both the offense and defense got jacked up over that one.
Sean Harlow has gotten some work as a left tackle behind Michael Philip and has looked pretty solid on the end. Harlow has a chance to line up at guard or tackle with his strength and knack for getting leverage. I liked what I saw out of the freshman today.
Mitchell also had a big impact on the O-line in lieu of Andrews. The 6-3 290-pound center/guard has some cleaning up to do to make Cavanaugh happy and keep the tailbacks safe, and he was a mix of impressive and not-so-much on Wednesday, which Cavanaugh made sure he was well aware of. Mitchell, maybe, is the type of guy OSU might develop as that critical handyman, much like the role Derek Nielsen served during the 2012 season. He is quality blocking stock for Cavanaugh and GA Tavita Thompson, so keep an eye on him.
Sapolu, formerly the only center listed on the OSU depth chart now can be seen participating at guard – which he did as a backup for Mitchell on Day 9. The starting center is Isaac Seumalo, who has only been receiving minimal coverage from BF.C because he is a quiet but consistently aggressive and overpowering player in the middle for OSU. His style doesn't really lend itself toward over-analysis because he is a heck of an athlete who has matured more as a player in one year of college ball than most guys do in three. He sure is a lot of fun to watch and he has future NFL player written all over him.
Richard Mullaney halted his practice session early for the third day in a row. Mullaney has been gradually reinserted into the receiving, skelly and team drills since Monday. But he remains less than 100 percent and is being smart about not rushing back and risking further aggravation of the hip pointer he suffered on Day 6.
Kellen Clute saw increased work with the tight end unit on Wednesday. He gave the coaches a scare during team drills when he took to the air to try and catch a too-high pass and was bumped by a defender, changing directions mid-drop and coming down hard on his elbow. But Clute shook it off on his way back to his unit.
Garret Weinreich was back in pads on the field for the first half of Day 9. He did not see much work. Weinreich is coming back from a serious knee injury suffered a year ago in fall camp.
Next man up. It is a phrase uttered frequently on the Beaver sidelines. But it took on a somber note when Alexander went down. Jabral Johnson took to the field immediately after Alexander went down, and did his part to keep the offense honest for the rest of Day 9's first session.
And it was as if the Beaver secondary took the injury to Alexander personally. Three picks during the first half of Day 9 – two by Nelson and one by Ryan Murphy followed. Nelson and Murphy have been having a very successful camp, impressing Riley and putting a smile on the face of position coach Rod Perry. Nelson just seems to be catching fire these last several days. I feel like everywhere I look I see him making a play, and he has made quite the bid for the starting corner designation opposite Rashaad Reynolds these last few days.
Sean Martin filled in for the inactive Reynolds on Wednesday and managed to keep his side of the field relatively free of big gains by wideouts. Martin and Obum Gwacham are always a fun battle to observe, as their height and size create physically aggressive route running and coverage. Gwacham had a quiet day, so somebody must have been doing their job...
The defensive tackle group got some attention from D-line Coach Joe Seumalo Wednesday -- the defensive line went to the Merritt Truax Indoor Practice Facility for a spell as the rest of the team claimed the practice fields of Tommy Prothro. Seumalo was showing them how to get penetration while ensuring that they remain in good enough position to stop the cutback lanes. It was very hands-on, with Seumalo watching every player's hands and feet carefully during the individual drills, and giving them notes after each set. Seumalo was impressed with Edwin Delva on a few of these occasions, even using the word "perfect" to describe on of his plays.
Delva and Siale Hautau saw extra work with the 1's on Day 9, as did Devon Kell.
Freshman linebacker Darrell Songy is becoming an oft used component of Trent Bray's linebacker platoon. Songy, a 6-0, 210-pound SAM behind Michael Doctor, has been seeing a fair portion of his reps this fall with the 2s. He has been relatively proficient, but did get some specialized attention from Mark Banker on the sideline Wednesday afternoon. Hard to tell what was said but it might have been about walking the walk.
Sophomore walk on corner Naji Patrick (5-8, 188) had another day worthy of mention – albeit an overly aggressive one at times. He had some great pass defense against Gwacham (6-5, 224) on one snap, where he blocked the ball right as it touched the receiver's finger tips. Patrick then proceeded to politely muscle Gwacham out of bounds. Just one man's opinion but Patrick has a tendency to try and go for the big play so often that it also puts him out of position to make the smaller ones, like accurate tackles if his man makes the reception anyway.
DT Noke Tago, running with the scout team, nabbed his second pick of fall camp toward the tail end of Day 9's former session, this one off of a pass that was tipped at the line and fell oh-so-sweetly into his bear like paws.
D.J. Alexander (LB) - Unknown
Rashaad Reynolds (CB) - Hamstring
Micah Hatfield (WR) - Hamstring
Will Hopkins (TE) – Toe
Running with the 1's – Day 9 Session 1
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Storm Woods
FB – Tyler Anderson
H-Back – Connor Hamlett
TE – Caleb Smith
LT- Michael Philipp
LG- Josh Mitchell
C- Isaac Seumalo
RG- Grant Enger
RT- Gavin Andrews
FL –Brandin Cooks
SE – Obum Gwacham/Richard Mullaney
SB –Kevin Cummings
DE – Dylan Wynn
DT – John Braun/Edwin Delva
DT – Mana Rosa/Siale Hautau
DE –Scott Crichton
WIL – D.J. Alexander (brief)/Jabral Johnson
MIK – Joel Skotte
SAM –Michael Doctor
CB- Sean Martin
CB- Steven Nelson
FS – Tyrequek Zimmerman
SS – Ryan Murphy