DAY 11: Tight ends highlight offensive report

CORVALLIS – No quarterback decisions were handed down Friday as were expected, and the redshirt waters are still a little murky. A key wideout had a big day, and there was intriguing movement on the O-line. The injured/resting count rose for the orange and black, although a big day on behalf of a few tight ends helped to put the bloom back on the OSU rose. But back to that starting QB thing…

Mike Riley tempted the media earlier this week with a possible end-of-the-week announcement of who would be the Beavs' starting QB against Eastern Washington. But in the end, Riley refused to dole out his decision just yet.

"I was thinking about thinking about (naming a QB starter)," Riley clarified with a smile. He went on to say there would be no sense asking him again about it before Monday, and that even then a decision may or may not be announced.

Riley had also been contemplated announcing some redshirt decisions at the end of this week, but he was reluctant to say anything just yet, saying that he has already made his decisions but he wants to inform the players prior to announcing it to the public.

From this chair, can't quite shake the feeling that the list of true freshmen who will play will grow in spite of Riley's original estimate of 4-5 – injuries have a way of changing those things up.

Consider the nine players who were on the sidelines today, albeit most with minor injuries or bruises. Center Isaac Seumalo (knee), WR Micah Hatfield (hamstring), TE Connor Hamlett, S Steven Christian, CB Malcolm Marable, LB D.J. Alexander (knee), Michael Greer, OL Garrett Weinreich (knee) and TE Will Hopkins (toe) were all inactive today. WR Brandin Cooks played minimally.

With the exception of Alexander, Weinreich, Hopkins and Hatfield, most of the injuries are not considered long term. But six of the nine resting Beavs are guys that should start or see playing time in 2013, which means depth is taking a hit the more guys get dinged up. If you're an optimist, though, you could also say opportunities are there for the taking for backups to try and shine.

Notable Note
Freshman safety Kendall Hill remains on the sidelines as well, bumping the walking wounded list to 10. Hill is recuperating from a knee injury that has hindered him since spring ball

. Practice Notes Day 11 – Session 1

  • It was as if wide receiver Obum Gwacham had bottled lighting and canned hops on Friday. He was all over the field, depending on the route he was meant to run, and made a handful of downright spectacular catches. The best came on a pass from Sean Mannion deep downfield, and seemingly just a yard or two out of reach over the right shoulder of the sprinting Gwacham. Next thing you know the 6-5, 224-pound receiver is laying out, making a diving grab worthy of a highlight reel.

  • Cody Vaz was in charge of the first team offense during Friday afternoon's practice. He walked the line between accurate and off-target, making some crisp throws and also showing a deft touch, mingled with some questionable decision making. From this chair, Mannion had a better run of Day 11 than Vaz did despite Mannion throwing two picks - one to Sean Martin and the other to Zack Robinson. Granted, picks can be game changing momentum-swingers and Vaz didn't throw a one. But my rationale here is Mannion's other tosses were largely on target compared to Vaz, and even when he was hurried the junior managed to get off some accurate passes. Vaz overthrew, underthrew and was slow to make decisions for a good chunk of the day.

  • Overall it was a heck of a start to Day 11 for some of the Oregon State tight ends. Second-year freshman Dustin Stanton laid out some very impressive blocks in the pit when the OL, TE's and TB's went to work against defensive front consisting of a safety, linebackers and the DL. One of those great blocks sent tight ends coach Kyle DeVan into a joyous combination of dancing and fist pumping, while yelling that Stanton had done it just like they had practiced. Kellen Clute also received some love from Devan on Day 11 for his improved hands and blocking capabilities.

  • Caleb Smith - sophomore tight end and candidate for serious playing time this season – had a rough first half of Friday. He dropped passes during team competition and separate TE unit drills. However Tyler Perry looked great for the first session on Friday. He made a stellar one handed grab toward the beginning of practice when the QB's and TE's ran various routes, and he looked solid setting blocks in the run game. Perry was more of a factor today in the receiving game than I have seen him be since fall camp began on August 5.

  • WR Victor Bolden continued to be a dagger in the side of the secondary. Bolden, a true freshman who is one of the top candidates to take off the redshirt this year injured his knee Wednesday night, sat out Thursday but returned Friday and had absolutely no trouble outpacing defenders in the backfield or in open terrain his first day back. He beat CB Steven Nelson and walk on safety Micah Audis like they had stolen his lunch money on one play -- he caught a bomb in stride and left the defenders in his wake as he cruised into the end zone. He might be something special over the next few years.

  • Mike Cavanaugh has really been getting on his O-line this week, but the first half of Day 11 was a little more low key compared to the hooting and hollering he's dished out the last four days. With Seumalo out, junior Roman Sapolu and sophomore Josh Mitchell shared time at center, with Mitchell seeing the lion's share of the snaps with the 1's. Both were adequate in their containment of d-linemen John Braun, Mana Rosa and Brandon Bennett. But without Seumalo anchoring the middle of the line, one could tell that the middle's sturdiness just wasn't the same.

  • Offensive linemen Grant Enger and Gavin Andrews were top-notch for most of Friday. Andrews had a hard time blocking Scott Crichton when the junior DE slid inside, but who doesn't. Sometimes there is just no coping with sheer speed and dynamic athleticism but overall, Andrews had a good looking day. Senior left tackle Michael Philipp also cleared paths for the run game.

  • Walter Jones, the 5-11, 182 pound true freshman wideout who started at the bottom of the rotation of a stacked OSU receiving corps, is making up ground. Lately, the youngster has been building his skill set and to the approval of Brent Brennan. It's resulted in a slight uptick in the amount of playing time. He had a good first session on Friday, making some tough catches in coverage. Jones is still working on consistently seeing the ball into his hands – he often turns upfield before he has full control of the ball. That's led to dropped passes and some catches that just get straight swatted out of his hands.

  • Freshman receiver Jordan Villamin struggled for the better half of Friday's first practice session, but really seemed to be pulling it together when Riley gave the younger athletes the last 10 minutes.

  • Storm Woods stood out today, which at this point is as much of a surprise as saying, ‘Brandin Cooks caught the ball today.' His confidence is certainly there and he's really starting run downhill as a result of the offseason muscle he put on. Yet there are some defenders even an agile back like Woods can't shake, more on that later in the defensive report.

    Running with the 1's – Day 11 – Session 1
    QB – Cody Vaz
    TB – Storm Woods
    FB – Tyler Anderson
    H-Back – Tyler Perry
    TE – Caleb Smith
    LT- Michael Philipp
    LG- Josh Andrews
    C- Josh Mitchell
    RG- Grant Enger
    RT- Gavin Andrews
    FL –Brandin Cooks (minimal), Victor Bolden
    SE – Obum Gwacham
    SB –Kevin Cummings

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