CORVALLIS – A young corner stood out on defense as the Oregon State secondary notched yet another fall camp pick on Day 15. A few injured players made room for some interesting new arrangements on the defensive line, and a defensive tackle went to the turf. The defense emphasized ‘hitting without really hitting' and the D made a very impressive, in-sync read and execution.
Practice Notes – Day 15 Session 1 Defense
DE Dylan Wynn, LB Darrell Songy and S Ryan Murphy made a great read of the offensive pattern at one point on Wednesday when the teams did some 11-on-11 work. On a run by Terron Ward, Wynn bullied his way into the backfield and made an imaginary tackle on the running back almost immediately – but, seeing as how the defensive players weren't supposed to bring a guy down to the turf, the play continued. Before Ward could get any more than a yard or two up field and past Wynn, Songy was ready to smother him and Murphy was right behind. It's impressive to see a defense move in sync like that.
Dashon Hunt on Wednesday continued to make Mike Riley look very smart for taking the redshirt off the 5-8, 189-pound corner. He snagged another interception today, this one off of Cody Vaz. It was a nice leaping effort by Hunt, who has been spending most of the last few weeks practicing with the 2's.
Sophomore DE Lavonte Barnett did not practice on Wednesday and it led to some interesting shifts on the second-string defensive line. Brandon Bennett - normally a DT with the 2's and scout team – moved to end and played some serious football while there. From this chair, Bennett (6-2, 257) is slightly undersized for an interior lineman in some of Mark Banker's schemes, but he showed up just fine on the edge and made a higher volume of good plays than I am used to seeing him make.
Siale Hautau was lying on the turf for a spell as the rest of the D-line were running fundamental penetration and evasion drills against the third string corps of O-linemen. Hautau appeared to have tweaked something on his lower leg – two members of the training staff surrounded the 6-1, 345-pound nose tackle and aided him in various stretches. Shortly afterward, Hautau gently limped back toward where his teammates were running drills under the gaze of Joe Seumalo – his knee was iced and he did not practice for the remainder of the afternoon.
Corners Sean Martin and Malcolm Marable had solid afternoons. Team drills that pitted the offense against the defense and the senior Martin and junior Marable stayed tight in their assignments and weren't afraid to get a body on a big receiver in order to throw him off his route. Marable had a nice pass deflection, and Martin stuck to Kevin Cummings like Gorilla Glue on a few plays.
Where Martin's strength lies, in my view, is in his consistency and knowledge of the game. I see Martin fitting into the nickel corner/rover roll quite nicely, if that's what the Beavs end up doing, because not only will he be covering receivers that are more or less the physical equivalent of him in the slot, but it also gives one of the more experienced members of the secondary additional opportunities to roam around in the zone and make those less heralded but all-important plays that eventually help win games.
Junior corner Steven Nelson had a rough first part of Day 15. He missed some assignments and was a little delayed in closing some of the gaps that Richard Mullaney and Bolden managed to create when they faced him during 11-on-11 drills toward the beginning of the day. He's had a very good camp, but today wasn't his day.
Senior corner Rashaad Reynolds and junior safeties Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman were taking care of business on Wednesday, which is like saying water is wet. The Beaver secondary under Rod Perry ran a couple light contact/tackling exercises on Wednesday where veterans and youngsters both went at half speed and simulated tackling and focused on proper technique. This drill was meant to help educate the secondary unit on proper open field tackling that doesn't constitute targeting under the new NCAA regulations. Murphy, Reynolds and Zimmerman were the most proficient in this area, and Micah Audiss also got a few good cracks in there.
Freshman linebacker Michael Greer (6-0, 213) made a habit of getting into little squabbles with members of the starting OL when the scout team defense took to the field against the 1's and 2's on offense for the final 30-40 minutes. Give Greer credit for being very fast and showing enthusiasm when trying to make a play on the ball, but not a good idea to pick fights with veterans twice his size. Grant Enger and Gavin Andrews shoved Greer around some, during the play, naturally, and the ‘backer got the message, he was calmed down for the rest of his reps.
Manase Hungalu's first live reps with the Oregon State defense occurred Wednesday when the scout team defense was on the field. Hungalu was a late arrival of Oregon State's 2013 recruiting class and is now able to fully participate having completed the NCAA-mandated acclimation period.