CORVALLIS - It was an abbreviated Thursday session for the Beavs with the bulk of the work already in this week for their opener on Saturday. For the most part, it was a calm, quicker session for the orange and black, but it was easy to tell that players are itching for the season to start.
Thursday was also the first time since fall camp began where the Oregon clouds really cracked open and let loose some rain on the hustling Beavs.
Mike Riley didn't have much to say after Thursday's practice. But what else is there to say?
With a light session on Thursday and a walk through tomorrow, things are pretty much settled for the Beavs. Saturday's starting lineup is more or less solidified, and it wasn't hard to tell that OSU's head man, just like his player, is just ready to play some football.
Practice Notes Offense
When the rain started falling on Reser Stadium, simple plays took on an element of increased difficulty – the ball slipped, and spirals from Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz were a little less tight.
Junior wideout Brandin Cooks and fellow junior tight end Connor Hamlett did not appear affected by the rain, though, and were consistent pass-catchers.
Senior slotback Kevin Cummings also shrugged off the weather, and made a few nice grabs.
Junior O-lineman Roman Sapolu got the lion's share of reps with the first string offense on Thursday at right guard. Grant Enger was again at the right tackle, with Isaac Seumalo anchoring the middle of the line at center alongside senior LG Josh Andrews. Senior tackle Michael Philipp was responsible, as he has been all of fall camp, for holding down the left end of the line.
A note on Seumalo – Riley mentioned that he is still considered day by day, but the anticipation is that he will start Saturday.
Sophomore tight end Caleb Smith was on my list of sure-handed receiving options for the majority of fall camp 2013, but the last few days - and Thursday especially - played host to Smith dropping a higher volume of what would generally be considered easy passes. Was it the rain? Pre-game jitters? We'll see how things unfold for him on Saturday.
Jovan Stevenson doesn't seem to have missed a beat as far as his return to the running back ranks is concerned. When Stevenson ran as the third string tailback in a few Beaver offensive formations, his juking was crisp, and his ability to read the field and react to the space available was impressive. Stevenson is currently replacing Chris Brown – the redshirt freshman tailback who was originally behind Terron Ward and Storm Woods prior to injuring his left foot. Brown is still sporting a boot and not practicing.
Ward and Woods were sharp Thursday while going through their usual practice routine with the starting lineup – both ran very well against the scout team defense, and Ward only dropped one pass after the rain started slicking things up.
Riley named freshman wideout Victor Bolden as one of the guys who will definitely be returning kicks for the orange and black on Saturday.
Bolden looked good receiving kicks during the early swing of Thursdays practice – he can hide behind some of his bigger teammates and jet out from behind a block to snag some extra yardage.
Fullback Ricky Ortiz, a redshirt walk on behind starting junior Tyler Anderson and Michael Balfour, got a few snaps in with the starting rotation Thursday and looked good.
Sean Martin intercepted passes off both Kyle Kempt and Brent Vanderveen Thursday afternoon while the senior corner was operating with the starting secondary in the Beavs' nickel package. Both picks came while the defense was backed up against their own end zone. Martin joined forces with senior Rashaad Reynolds and junior Steven Nelson for a display of stout situational defense - Reynolds intercepted a pass against the scout offense, and Nelson let his hands do the talking when he batted down a few balls in the end zone.
A note on Nelson – he has a tendency to be pretty physical. With the Pac-12 throwing lots of laundry in recent years and the added emphasis this coming season on big hits, will he get flagged on Saturday? Or will he be less touchy-felly with opponents when there is a yellow flag and yards attached to his mistakes?
Keep an eye out for Darrell Songy this season. From my vantage point high in the seats of Reser, I couldn't see Michael Doctor practicing as much as freshman ‘backer Songy -- which would make sense late in the week when you're trying to get your young guns some extra reps -- you already know what Doctor can do. Songy saw a lot of first team snaps against the scout offense, switching between the WIL and SAM backer functions with junior Jabral Johnson.
The Beaver D-line was impressive for both the scout team defenders and starting rotation. Oregon State's defense took Thursday to rehash a lot of fresh formations and interesting protections that they are planning on using against Eastern Washington on Saturday, and that meant that the D-line was the subject of various player adjustments in their base and nickel/dime fronts.
Freshman scout team corner Chris Hayes (6-0, 173) would have had a few great stops against Mannion and Vaz but the scout defense is heavily encouraged to resist making plays because the goal is to get the No. 1 offense ready and give them the right looks. But had it been live, twice Hayes was in position to make an interception or pass deflection, with the freshman intentionally pulling his outstretched hands away each time.
Freshman defensive end Titus Failauga (6-3,231) showed some giddy-up as a member of the scout team D-line on Thursday. He read one of the offense's plays to perfection and burst past Sapolu to put an early halt to things. Failauga was into the backfield in what felt like a second, and he earned some praise from members of the coaching staff.
Running with the 1's Offense
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Storm Woods
FB – Tyler Anderson
H-Back – Connor Hamlett
TE – Caleb Smith
LT- Michael Philipp
LG- Josh Andrews
C- Isaac Seumalo
RG- Roman Sapolu
RT- Grant Enger
FL –Brandin Cooks
SE – Richard Mullaney/Obum Gwacham
SB –Kevin Cummings
DE – Dylan Wynn
DT – John Braun
DT – Mana Rosa
DE – Scott Crichton
WIL – Jabral Johnson/Darrel Songy
MIK – Joel Skotte
SAM – Michael Doctor(minimal)/ Jabral Johnson/Darrel Songy
CB- Rashaad Reynolds
CB- Steven Nelson
CB-Sean Martin (Nickel)
FS – Tyrequek Zimmerman
SS – Ryan Murphy