CORVALLIS – Oregon State's D didn't necessarily put up highlight reel action on Wednesday – but shouldn't consistency be considered a highlight? A solid effort all around led to some nice plays on the line and in the secondary, while an integral LB is starting to come full circle. And Mike Riley had a thing or two to say about the ongoing battle for playing time at starting corner on Wednesday.
and Steven Nelson
have been locked tightly in a friendly skirmish for starting looks adjacent to Rashaad Reynolds
"Well they are both pretty darn good players – it's like trying to separate what was going on at quarterback," Riley said. "The one difference is that Sean has been here a little while longer, and Sean is going to have some versatility. They are both going to play in the games because of our substitute packages – whether it's dime or nickel stuff."
Nelson is a JC transfer that arrived last spring. After a spring where he was clearly in learning mode, his fall camp has been a eye opener. He's shown a much greater grasp of the defensive schemes, dependable and with a good eye for the pigskin.
Nelson's success, along with that of junior transfers Edwin Delva
and Siale Hautau
, had Riley thinking on Wednesday.
"We haven't made this a rule, but I almost would like to – that if we get a transfer in, they have to be here for at least spring term (and spring ball by extension)." Riley said. "Otherwise, we don't know if they will be ready. So, I won't say that yet – that it is a rule – but I sure do like it a lot better. (Spring ball) was very good for Delva, it was very good for Hautau."
I liked what I saw from MIK Joel Skotte today while he was operating with the first team defense in the MIK ‘backer slot. His reads were goog, his movements to the ball more confident. He was a force in putting an early halt to a few running plays, and moved smoothly through his zone when defending the pass. Freshman QB Kyle Kempt didn't have much luck throwing to Skotte's area. The first real test for the sophomore, of course, comes this Saturday.
The better Skotte does, the less Jabral Johnson and Michael Doctor have to compensate for his relative lack of experience in the middle of the linebacker set up. Johnson (Jr.) and Doctor (Sr.) were both stout defenders on Wednesday.
Similar success occurred within the second team LB ranks, where SAM Caleb Saulo, MIK Rommel Mageo and WIL Darrell Songy were sharp with their coverages and displayed good awareness of where the ball was as they were charging the offensive line.
Saulo notched an interception on one play, where the sophomore backer read QB Brent Vanderveen. Mageo earned props from Trent Bray on more than one occasion, and Songy continues his speedy development toward being a steadfast option at linebacker for the Beavers.
Starting corner Rashaad Reynolds was great in his red zone coverage of various wideouts, knocking down a throw from Mannion on Wednesday. Tyrequek Zimmerman - one member of OSU's premier junior safety tandem with Ryan Murphy – was also a firm defensive threat down inside the 20-yard line.
Micah Audiss saw some repetitions come with the first team defense on Wednesday when Oregon State was in certain packages. The sophomore free safety backup has played an increasingly active role this fall camp. He's not going to challenge Murphy or Zimmerman, but he could become a valued sub. Audiss has the speed of an aggressive safety, and the frame (6-1, 207 pounds) of a guy who could tackle in the open field when the time comes for the Beavers to officially start cracking opponents on Saturday.
Riley has clearly been impressed with the progress and physical capabilities of defensive tackle Jalen Grimble, the 6-2, 297 pound transfer from Miami who joined the team last week but won't be eligible to play for the Beavs until next year."Grimble is not hard to spot," Riley said Wednesday. "He is very explosive – he should really be a good addition to our team."
Grimble once again saw time at DT with the scout team defense, showing some of that explosiveness. Grimble and fellow junior Devan Filipe have been alternating between nose tackle and standard DT reps for the last three days.
Defensive tackle Brandon Bennett was also a fixture with the scout team defense on OSU's third day of game week preparations for Eastern Washington. Bennett is typically seen running as a second or third option on the interior defensive line with the second team defense under Joe Seumalo, but today saw Bennett trying to get a bead on Mannion and Cody Vaz, instead of Kempt and/or Vanderveen. Bennett is fiery and with a little work, he might surprise a few offensive linemen down the road.
Safety Steven Christian finally made a shelled up, running with the 2's type of reappearance to the OSU defensive patterns on Wednesday. The fifth year senior saw limited reps but made a statement upon his return to action. He smashed into freshman receiver Hunter Jarmon mid-air with a resounding WHAP! that could be heard on the sideline.
Charlie Gilmur, a walk on 6-1, 235-pound senior ‘backer, saw ample playing time on the scout team defense during practice. Gilmur snuck up on sophomore TE Caleb Smith on one play, forcing the ball out of Smith's hands and onto the turf.
With the exception of a few specific plays, the Oregon State defense – the 1's all the way down to the scouts – mostly had a very good day reading and properly responding to the running game of the offense.
Running with the 1's – Day
DE – Dylan Wynn
DT – John Braun
DT – Mana Rosa
DE –Scott Crichton
WIL –Jabral Johnson
MIK – Joel Skotte
SAM –Michael Doctor
CB- Rashaad Reynolds
CB- Steven Nelson
CB-Sean Martin (Nickel)
FS – Tyrequek Zimmerman
SS – Ryan Murphy