CORVALLIS – With D.J. Alexander's injured knee already the equivalent of old news in Beaver Country, it's all about next man up. That means Jabral Johnson in for the injured Alexander, but it also meant Thursday that two linebacker normally with the 2s got a lot of repetitions with the starting unit. We delve into all things linebacker and a lot more in BF.C's defensive report on Day 10.
Hopefully ‘next man up' doesn't become OSU's defensive motto for 2013. Meanwhile on Thursday, another starting linebacker took a break, and a young corner sat out the latter half of practice after some hard contact.
Practice Notes – Day 10 Defense
Michael Doctor was dressed but sans a helmet for most of Day 10 - the reason was unknown but it may have just been Mike Riley resting some starters. The senior SAM ‘backer was joking with fellow teammates on the sideline, and for the most part No.40 was business as usual except he didn't participate as much in Thursday's shortened practice session.
With injuries biting the ‘backer corps, Jabral Johnson and Darrell Songy saw a ton of time with the starting defense on Thursday – Songy as the SAM for Doctor, and Johnson at WIL in place of D.J. Alexander.
Johnson, a 6-1, 227-pound junior who drew praise as having a breakout spring by Riley and position coach Trent Bray, a couple days ago the backup for both Alexander and Doctor and expected to be in the rotation at ‘backer. With Alexander estimated to be out four weeks by Bray, he's now the expected starter at WIL.
The read here since fall camp began is that Johnson has certainly shown promise thus far, but still needs to work on his reads and his pass coverage technique.
According to Bray, Songy is highly unlikely to be redshirted and will probably see Week 1 action with the linebacker group. Alexander's injury threw into even sharper focus the fact that OSU is tissue-paper thin in the middle of the field.
"He is playing at a level where he can (play in games immediately)," Bray said of Songy. "It's not just a guy we are throwing in there – he is learning quick, playing well and he has just got a nose for the football. Right now, he is playing like he can play for (us), so these next two weeks will be big for him. He needs to be consistent and say ‘Hey, I'm ready to play.'"
In addition to Doctor, CB Dashon Hunt's day ended early. Hunt looked to hurt his chest while making a diving interception off of Cody Vaz when the defense went against the offensive 2's. Hunt was addressed by trainers immediately and did not seem to be in much pain following the removal of his shell. Hunt has been a part of just about every nickel and dime package OSU has applied since fall camp began and looks to be a strong candidate to also see playing time as a true freshman.
Hunt been playing pretty well for a guy who was at his senior prom a few short months ago.
Bray didn't officially name Joel Skotte as the starting middle linebacker for the Beavs but it seems a foregone conclusion. Bray said redshirt freshman Rommel Mageo is the clear No.2 at MIK behind Joel Skotte at this stage. Mageo had been primarily in contention for that role with another second-year freshman, Caleb Saulo (6-1, 225). Saulo saw time at SAM with the 2's on Thursday, replacing Songy.
Bray indicated that it is still an open competition at the MIK but a strong fall camp from Mageo has solidified the current pecking order. But Bray also said the battle is tight enough that his official standing on who fits where could easily change in the next few weeks depending on who puts up the most consistent effort. Game on.
Lavonte Barnett had a banner day as a DE with the 2's. And the 6-2, 257-pound sophomore showed off his athleticism in varying ways on Thursday. Without giving away any details, Barnett has been factoring into the picture more and more as the days roll on.
The standouts on the Beaver d-line were Scott Crichton, Edwin Delva, Brandon Bennett and Mana Rosa. For all the anxiety being dumped into the lack of a veritable beast/do-it-all DT, I must say that the slew of individuals who see time at DT are not doing that bad and that thought was fortified on Day 10. John Braun is more athlete than I gave him credit for and he's working hard in the middle. Noke Tago is coming along – albeit slowly. Bear in mind that Dylan Wynn will slide inside on occasion and in varying scenarios, with Devon Kell moving to DE at times as well. We won't know until the games start to count for real but on days like Thursday, the landscape might not be as barren as it appears. We'll see.
Senior CB Rashaad Reynolds who missed a little time to injury is back to his old self. He was lining up across from Brandin Cooks on Thursday and giving OSU's fastest receiver a run for his money. Corner Sean Martin and Steven Nelson, battling for that starting job opposite Reynolds, also had decent days, though neither managed to notch more than small scribbles in the BF.C notebook. Sophomore Larry Scott, who is having a good camp, had an off day.
Malcolm Marable was also on the sidelines without a helmet on Day 10. The junior corner has been off and on for the last few practices.
Running with the 1's – Day 10
DE – Dylan Wynn
DT – John Braun
DT – Mana Rosa
DE –Scott Crichton
WIL –Jabral Johnson
MIK – Joel Skotte
SAM –Michael Doctor (brief)/Darrell Songy
CB- Rashaad Reynolds
CB- Steven Nelson
CB-Sean Martin (Nickel)
FS – Tyrequek Zimmerman
SS – Ryan Murphy