CORVALLIS – There could be a hurricane a-brewin' on the defensive line down the road with one JC transfer. A corner who has really come into his own this fall camp was like a thief in the night when the pigskin was in the air. A young linebacker merited some lines on the BF.C notepad, and an utter lack of bear crawls spoke to good news for the Beaver D-line.
Practice Notes – Day 18 Defense
The 1's and 2's on defense spent the vast majority of their time locked in Eastern Washington preparations. Not surprisingly, Saturday's drills were centered mostly on the defense properly making a read and communicating it to their teammates as opposed to more physical confrontations. ,br>
A few players who seemed to really benefit from the slightly different practice routine were sophomore linebacker Joel Skotte and freshman Darrell Songy.
Scott, a sophomore, has been the first in line to replace Reynolds throughout fall camp -- and since the Beavs took the field earlier this month, he has put together one of the most concrete performances I have observed this fall camp. Saturday was no different – Scott nabbed two interceptions off of Kyle Kempt and lent a hand in the disruption of others.
Marable was solid on the day, with a few struggles in the red zone defending Obum Gwacham. It's the junior's constant motor that legitimizes him as a threat to the success of opposing offenses. Marable has shown serious hustle on just about every rep of his that I've observed and he possesses impressive leaping ability, which helps account for his lack of height (5-7).
Yet height sure isn't the end all-be all when it's come to some OSU players over the years. Both the 2013 offense and defense are peopled with guys whose skills are predicated more on speed, athleticism and giddy-up than on size, and it just so happens that OSU's cornerback unit houses three players that measure below 5-10. Marable, Dashon Hunt and walk on Naji Patrick they've all had their moments this August in defending passes. Patrick was a more pronounced force against the pass on Saturday than Hunt, but both were on point.
In the end, it was not a very bright day for Kempt, who threw three picks on Day 18. Cyril Noland grabbed the third as practice was winding down. But it also must be be taken into account that scout team and third-string QBs are also, at times, throwing off a card. It doesn't matter if the play is "open" or not, they're there to give the defense the look of the opponent. 'Covered tight? Double-coverage? Tough beans, throw it.'
I kept a watchful eye on DTs Devan Filipe and Jalen Grimble while they worked together with the interior line Saturday. Filipe, eligible to play this year, is pretty fast for a guy who weighs 300 pounds, but in my opinion -- and it's a strongly held one -- he'll need some seasoning, conditioning and refinement before he is ready for playing time. Filipe was a decent last minute acquisition by the staff, but he's at the beginning of the road.
Grimble, on the other hand, showed some real strengths in the trenches today. A transfer from Miami who has to sit out this year, I was scribbling fast in my notebook when he was in there. The first thing I wrote after watching him for two straight plays was "quick hands." I'm not prepared to predict greatness just yet, but I watched him closely today and liked what I saw as far as raw talent goes.
The second note etched in the notebook upon observing Grimble was this - "Grimble with quick penetration against (Josh) Mitchell and Josh Andrews, has strong technique." Grimble slapped Mitchell's hands down before he even got them up. Grimble then proceeded to rip right past Andrews and found himself standing behind Sean Mannion, watching him throw the ball because he couldn't sack him. DT has been on the receiving end of a lot of bad voodoo this preseason, Grimble's mild success could signal something far different at this time next year.
The collective effort of Joe Seumalo's defensive line was impressive on Day 18. From scout team members like Grimble and Ali'i Robins to starters such as DE Scott Crichton and DT Mana Rosa – it seemed like the unit learned a lesson from Thursday's bear crawls and kicked it into high gear for Saturday's practice drills and game prep.
I found myself surprised by freshman linebacker Terin Solomon's performance on Saturday. It wasn't like he killed it all day long but on one play, he vaulted high into the air to tip down a very tall pass from Sean Mannion that was intended for Victor Bolden. Solomon showed today that he is capable of becoming a very athletic option as a WIL ‘backer. In other words, once he gets some seasoning, when reacting becomes second nature rather than all of the thinking that goes on for young guns at the start, it could be fun to watch.
Michael Doctor was resting for all of Saturdays practice, but the starting SAM ‘backer did not hesitate to insert him into the formation during the less intense portions of the session. Doctor was seen manning his usual spot in the linebacker setup when Trent Bray was running his players through more strategy oriented routines.
Freshman corner Chris Hayes had an above average run at Day 18 with the scout team defense. The 6-0, 168-pounder was in charge of Obum Gwacham and Richard Mullaney on a few plays and deflected two passes while I was watching him. Hayes uses speed as a substitute for inherent size to create difficulties for QB's and wideouts. Hayes struggles to really get a body on short aggressive receivers, like Bolden and bigger athletes like Gwacham can overpower him at this stage. But if Hayes bulks up and maintains his agility and closing speed, he could emerge down the road.