CORVALLIS - With bumps, bruises, pulls and strains peppering the OSU ranks, it should come as no surprise that there was no scrimmage Thursday as Mike Riley had originally intended. Practice - which took place in just shells – was even called a little early. But we've got the scoop on the offense's day and there's a new addition. Plus, there's word on how long D.J. Alexander will be out.
Disappointing news on the injury front.
Starting WIL linebacker D.J. Alexander
(knee) is expected to be inactive for at least four weeks if not a little bit longer, said Trent Bray
. That would place him back for the Beavs' third game of the season, at Utah -- IF he's only out four weeks.
Bray said Alexander will be available to start testing the waters week-to-week and it all depends on when the training staff deems him healthy enough to move on to the next stage and eventually, to play.
Junior Jabral Johnson
is Alexander's expected replacement, and true freshman Darrell Songy
is likely now on red alert and possibly in the rotation.
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Freshman linebacker Manase Hungala
made his first appearance on Tommy Prothro Practice Field on Thursday, sporting No. 55. Hungala needs two practices under his belt before he can don shoulder pads and won't be allowed to go full contact until his fifth day under NCAA rules. He mostly spent his first day observing the black jerseys dipping and dodging in and out of defensive formations.
Speaking of the dinged, battered and bruised - Mike Riley
wasn't going to take any chances by running the Beavs through their first fall camp scrimmage on Thursday.
"Besides a couple guys that are hurt a little bit, we've got so many pulled muscles and all that -- it would have been hard to do anything," Riley said. "The next time that we might scrimmage might be Saturday and it might just be younger guys."
That's "might" twice, so we aren't counting any chickens. But if we're looking into the BF.C crystal ball, here it is – Riley said that with the current rash of injuries, he has been tossing around the idea of minimalizing the amount of contact his players will see for the duration of fall camp. Does that mean fewer scrimmages or further still, no scrimmages for the starters?
We think so. With so many players that have considerable experience returning on both the offense and defense, Riley hinted that he would rather not risk further injury to his ranks with the opener a little more than two weeks away. He's trying to find the sweet spot -- enough contact that they're ready for the season but not so much that you're losing key players.
Practice Notes – Day 10
Not starting with the QBs because Thursday's slightly abbreviated practice belonged to the running backs, specifically the tenacious combo of Storm Woods and Terron Ward. The pair has put together a solid fall session so far, and it continued Thursday. Both backs slipped by would-be tacklers and squeezed through skinny holes to keep plays alive and add to their YAC. Woods has been the workhorse, seeing the highest volume of snaps and moving the rock.
But there is something about Ward, a spark of some kind. My take is that he is going to be crucial in 2013, for reasons above and beyond giving Woods a breather here and there. OSU is implementing plays specifically designed to utilize Ward to his fullest extent, and that should continue once the season rolls around. Ward ran the ball with gusto on Thursday, and looks like a fair option as a receiver coming out of the backfield. OSU, bottom line, has two weapons at tailback and I think they'll both see a lot of playing time.
Still not ready to talk QB yet because… Riley made a point in the media huddle that the first part of fall camp has shown a lack of game-ready talent on Mike Cavanaugh's O-line. And that has strengthened the case for burning a redshirt with freshman offensive lineman Sean Harlow.
Harlow, a 6-4 284 pound guard/tackle option has seen an extensive amount of playing time with the 2's since his arrival in Corvallis earlier this year for the Beavers' spring camp. Harlow has been above average in camp, but nothing like last year when Isaac Seumalo was dropping jaws all over the place. Cavanaugh will tell you that being physically and mentally ready to play such an integral role as offensive linemen -- whether as a starter or sub -- takes a ton of work.
By the by, Cavanaugh was none too pleased with ANY of his offensive linemen on Thursday afternoon. When the rest of the team was running skeleton drills, the offensive line was going over some standard blocking sets. Enough guys made mistakes as to send Cav into a brief stint of angry barking and finger pointing where every man under his employ stood stone still, hoping that he would not be the next man called out. It is worth noting that Cavanaugh has gotten louder and more frequent in his criticisms as the week has gone on, a sign that not everything is going according to plan.
There was a bright spot on the line today – Gavin Andrews. He got great position on DE Dylan Wynn two plays in a row. Wynn has blown by Andrews quite a bit this camp, but today the 6-5, 325-pound offensive tackle turned it up a notch and stuffed the agile Wynn before he could even think about making a statement in the backfield. Some very nice work by Andrews.
Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz were both pretty quiet Thursday. Mannion ran with the 1's predominantly and Vaz was in control of the 2's. By my mark, Vaz was the only one who tossed a pick on the afternoon, with Dashon Hunt absconding with the pigskin. Vaz by my count has committed more turnovers than Mannion this camp but he's also outplayed his competition for the starting gig at times. Despite the interception on Thursday, Vaz had mild success finding Richard Mullaney and Malik Gilmore in the pattern. Mannion had a handful of nice completions to Brandin Cooks and Obum Gwacham.
Neither are running QBs but Vaz is better suited for scrambling with a lower center of gravity and shorter, thicker legs. Granted, saying that either one of them is "better" at scrambling is all relative, but Vaz looks safer doing it. When Mannion runs the ball it's a little more like hold-your-breath time.
Cooks saw a lot of short and sweet passes on Thursday that allowed him to utilize his speed – Gwacham, on the other hand, did a nice job in utilizing his height (6-5) as much as possible.
Redshirt freshman receiver and new second string slotback Malik Gilmore had a better run of Day 10 than he has any other day this week. Gilmore seemed at home as a target but showed particular promise in the red zone, where the 6-3 wideout was a favorite target of Vaz.
TE sophomore Kellen Clute had a solid day. I noticed him in on a lot more plays than I did Connor Hamlett and Caleb Smith, but this could also be because the coaching staff is backing off situations that put the starters into a group of young defenders who have been getting feisty with just about everybody lately.
However, Clute did not play like a young guy Thursday. He had a handful of smart grabs, and snared a gorgeous catch along the sideline where he leapt for the ball and tried to high-point it -- the ball bounced off his mitts and was sinking toward the turf before he reeled the ball just before it would have made contact with the turf. It was a fun play to watch.
Victor Bolden and walk on J.C. Grim joined the ranks of guys not practicing on Thursday. Bolden hurt his right knee during last night's practice, but not seriously, said OSU. Other members of the offense that were inactive on Day 10 included Micah Hatfield (hamstring), and Will Hopkins (toe). Walk-on Sam Curtis was back in pads today as well.
Running with the 1's – Day 10
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