CORVALLIS – The offensive line got a big lift on Wednesday with their anchor in the middle returning to the practicing ranks. Two QB's lit things up, and the starting receiving corps looked sharp as a tack, sans a few hiccups. The future looks a little brighter for a player who has been out of action since last fall and talk of a fullback's progress spurned on Mike Riley's feel-good demeanor.
was back in the center of OSU's starting offensive line for Wednesday's practice, and it brought a big smile to Mike Riley
's face in the media huddle.
"We had a big move today," Riley said. "It's kind of (just) about confidence right now, (Seumalo) put his pads on, did some individual work and did the quarterback-center stuff – if he is able to play (against EWU) he'll play."
That seems likely. And Seumalo's return to limited action with the first team offense wasn't the only highlight of the day for the offensive line, with Garrett Weinreich
(knee) making progress.
"Gosh I hope that's a good story," Riley said. "He is kind of every-other-day practicing, so if he continues to make progress…I finally saw him yesterday, feel optimistic - I just got a sense from him that he thinks things might be coming around for him. And he is a smart kid, we could really use him. And just for him personally, it would be awesome if (his health) would come around."
Linebacker D.J. Alexander
was in good spirits today, despite being inactive for two weeks. He raced linebackers coach Trent Bray
around Tommy Prothro Practice Field when the ‘backer squad was transitioning from drill to drill on Wednesday.
"I think (his progression) is all good. Positive progress and no setbacks," Riley said of Alexander's injured knee. "(He might) feel better sooner than what may be (considered) normal."
The projection by Bray when Alexander first injured was four weeks (at least). That would put him back in the lineup for Week 3 against Utah.
It could have been that Seumalo was back in with the 1's, it could have been the lack of wind on the practice field. It may have simply been a matter of confidence blossoming in a young player. Call it what you will, but Sean Mannion was spot on for Wednesday's practice session. The junior QB was highly effective with his red zone tosses, the deep balls he threw were fluid and accurate, and his release was timely. A great day of football practice for Mannion and he notched a multitude of positive notes in the BF.C notebook. When Mannion is on like that, the offense can really clicks as a unit.
I suppose that it didn't hurt Mannion that he had four wideouts who were firing on all cylinders Wednesday afternoon. Kevin Cummings, Obum Gwacham, Brandin Cooks and Richard Mullaney all had good days, and for the most part all were efficient route runners. Cummings had a number of clean grabs, as well as one easy drop. But Cummings was sharp otherwise, making a good target and catching a few zingers - one of them on a laser beam from Mannion that slipped past double coverage and right into the hands of the senior slotback. Cooks was making chain-movers and Mullaney was all over the field making grabs.
A note on Cooks – I've been covering fall camp for two seasons now, and if there's a more adept route runner in recent times at OSU, I can't think of him. Every route is sharp and angular, his transitions are near flawless. Fans could be in for some big things from Cooks this season. He and Mannion have been clicking this camp.
Practice was not so bright for true freshman wideout Victor Bolden, who struggled to find the proper timing on Wednesday. This was unusual for the 5-10, 165-pound receiver, who typically is right in step with the signal caller when his number is dialed in. Bolden hand a handful of drops Wednesday, the large majority of which came being a step or two behind the timing.
Redshirt freshman and second string slotback Malik Gilmore (6-3, 213) also struggled to get his routes down pat on Wednesday, and Riley let him know about it on one less-than-crisp transition.
Tyler Anderson showed up big time in offensive drills. Anderson, a junior who was out all of spring ball with a knee injury, had some nice grabs and was a stout blocking threat when in charge of paving the way for Storm Woods, Terron Ward, and Jovan Stevenson. When asked how having a healthy and game-ready fullback made him fell, Riley simply grinned. "I like Ty a lot, that's another good story," Riley said Wednesday. "He is a really good football player – he plays special teams all over the place – he is just one of the best football players on our team. It's good to have him back."
OSU's tight end corps was decent on Wednesday, but not perfect. Caleb Smith and Kellen Clute dropped a few passes, but were otherwise dependable and ran solid routes in the pattern. Smith and Clute are starting to develop their receiving skills, while Connor Hamlett is becoming more of a dual threat H-back. Tyler Perry may well be the best blocker that GA Kyle Devan has in my opinion and he plays the part well. Hayden Craig and Dustin Stanton have both found a home with the scout team offense, and were adequate blocking/receiving options on Wednesday.
Speed was the highlight of the day for the OSU running backs under Chris Brasfield – and Woods was the guy really turning on the jets. He burned the scout team defense Wednesday on one play, some defenders were caught off guard with a puzzled "Where did he come from?" look on their faces. As the sophomore took off, another member of the offense looked at the questioning defenders and said, "Well, he ain't slow."
Freshman running back Damien Haskins might be reaping the benefits of a wealth of repetitions with the scout team offense during the last week and a half. The 5-8, 223 pound running back made a sweet one-handed grab on a throw from freshman QB Kyle Kempt. Haskins found a seam in the defense and picked up some nice yardage on the play. Haskins has had some receiving issues but he's working on them and Wednesday's grab was a good indicator of that.
Speaking of Kempt – the freshman quarterback is young and has yet to turn the learning curve completely, and he is prone to small mistakes, naturally. But he has a high ceiling and his mechanics are good. I saw some stellar throws leave his hand today while he was working with the scout team. Kempt also displayed times of keen awareness – sensing pressure from the blitz and putting a timely zip on some throws that generally found their mark in stride. It was a good day for the youngster.
Quick Injury Update
Freshman O-lineman Derrionte Freeney did not participate in Wednesday' practice session. J.C. Grim and Will Hopkins remain inactive as well.
Running with the 1's
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Storm Woods
FB – Tyler Anderson
H-Back – Connor Hamlett
TE – Caleb Smith/Kellen Clute
LT- Michael Philipp
LG- Josh Andrews
C- Isaac Seumalo
RG- Josh Mitchell/Roman Sapolu
RT- Grant Enger
FL –Brandin Cooks
SE – Obum Gwacham/Richard Mullaney
SB –Kevin Cummings