PRACTICE: Banker weighs in on Beaver D

CORVALLIS – At practice on Tuesday, BF.C talked with Mark Banker about all things defense and what Oregon State is doing to put on a much different show defensively this Saturday. Mike Riley also talked Hawaii, and on both sides of the pigskin. Meanwhile, out on the field, the beleaguered secondary turned things up a notch, and Sean Mannion put on a passing clinic.

So Eastern Washington happened, and while a loss of that caliber may be hard to simply forget, Mike Riley and his staff have their heads on straight and are looking forward to Hawaii. From a philosophical standpoint, are they doing anything different?

"(Practice) turns into the specifics of what Hawaii does," Riley said Tuesday. "You prepare for what they do and who they are doing it with. That's how every week changes basically – and then we try and gain more and more confidence throughout the week."

Riley and his staff did a fair amount of homework on Hawaii this offseason, touching on the various offensive strategies of Norm Chow. But upon watching tape of the USC-Hawaii game, Riley was also struck by something other than the offense.

"Defensively, I thought they were outstanding," Riley said of Hawaii. "They really made it hard for ‘SC to have any rhythm whatsoever. The points (USC) got on offense, which was 23, were very hard to come by. (Hawaii is) very disruptive and they don't want you to run, so they commit themselves to that and they play a lot of good, tight man-to-man coverage."

There will be no underestimating Hawaii, or their coach, said Riley.

"Offensively, they are Norm Chow – scary." Riley said. "(There exists) all those parts (of the offense) there that you have to be aware of. Norm is the master of balance and (play) action passes. It's a good looking team."

THE BIG QUESTION is how will the Beaver D perform against the multiple fronts Chow will undoubtedly throw at OSU come Saturday. For insight on that, BF.C turned to defensive coordinator Mark Banker.

"What we did in the offseason (for Hawaii) was we did an extensive study of UTEP because of the fact that the (offensive) coordinator that was at Hawaii before the first game was from UTEP," said Banker. "(The styles of play) were vastly different. They were strictly gun, pistol, zone, read-zone and quarterback running – things like that. So there are still elements of that in Hawaii's offense."

"So what we've done is looked at Hawaii's offense (from before the first game) and looked at things that would overlap and join in Norm Chow's philosophies."

Banker noted that Hawaii heavily favors the shotgun and offset I-formations, occasionally intermingling the two. So in general terms and not giving away anything, what do the Beavs do to stop it?

"The specific thing, number one, is just focus within your position," said Banker. "Working with eyes, feet – making sure we are sound and not straying from (the fundamentals), being more disciplined from that standpoint.

"The other thing is finishing off plays. Whether it be in a drill, our tackling, inside-out, outside-in - whatever the approach is. Which we've done, but then all of a sudden you are in a game situation (against EWU) and obviously (it looked like) we hadn't."

Execution will always be king but putting yourself in the right position before the snap, Banker says, is also needed. It's something OSU didn't do nearly enough of this past Saturday.

"The players understand that – they've seen the tape," said Banker. "But we need to harp on those things. Within every defensive call, you've got an alignment, which is critical. We had some issues (against EWU) with alignment, so we are working with that, making special emphasis on that. If we make the special emphasis, we want the players to hear that, adhere to that, and make that a focus."

Elements of what Banker talked about - alignment, focus and coordination – were all in evidence after the Beavs' starting defense took the field on Tuesday.

Practice Notes
  • It was very apparent that Rashaad Reynolds does not want to start the season 0-2. The senior corner put on a strong display and was markedly more vocal than I recall him being during the fall training session. More than once, Reynolds pulled one of his defensive teammates aside and discussed angles and/or technique with him. The senior also had an interception on the day.

  • The starting secondary unit composed of Reynolds, Steven Nelson, Sean Martin, Tyrequek Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy was far more physical on Tuesday than they had been in fall camp practices. One thing I noticed was that they were using their hands better, and that resulted in a number of pass break-ups. Still, there were some lapses by Nelson and Martin. It's early in the week, though, and they have time to iron out the kinks.

  • The 1's and 2's on defense were moving at a fast pace. The defensive line was pushing harder and reacted well to a variety of interesting looks courtesy of the scout team offense. Corners and safeties alike were often times right in the face of their assignment at the right time.

  • For those wondering, full-on tackling doesn't look like it's in the cards for practice. Riley's philosophy is not to tackle to the ground in-season and he's not going to change that philosophy after a bad beat. OSU didn't go full contact Monday or Tuesday. But will more physical play, as seen on Tuesday, and a tighter focus do the trick, producing a more prepared Beaver D for this Saturday? That's the million dollar question.

  • Freshman Victor Bolden substituted at flanker for Brandin Cooks (back) but Cooks is expected back in time for Saturday.

  • QB Sean Mannion looked like he was still playing against Eastern. He was very accurate and had a lot of zip on his throws. Mannion's rate of completion Tuesday was helped out by some great hands courtesy of Richard Mullaney and Connor Hamlett. For the most part, it was business as usual for the offense.

  • Sophomore center Isaac Seumalo did not play in last weekend's tilt against EWU, a surprise to BF.C frankly. But he was in shells and running as the first team center on Tuesday.
  • After watching every practice Seumalo missed leading up to the opener, the Oregon State O-line just looks more in-sync with Seumalo in there. Not a dig on Josh Mitchell, he held his own at the position in fall camp and on Saturday. With Seumalo in the middle, the line appears more intimidating, though, and the rest of the line picks up the pace with Seumalo at the point.

    Injury Report
  • Siale Hautau and Cooks were at practice but did not participate in team drills on Tuesday. Hautau's injury is presumably minor, and Banker had little else to offer on the junior DT's status outside of that sentiment.

  • Sophomore tackle Gavin Andrews was also back on the Tommy Prothro Practice Field on Tuesday. He did not dress in shells, but he was with his position group for the entirety of the afternoon, taking in Mike Cavanaugh's barked teachings along with the rest of his o-line mates.

    Running with the 1's
    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 – Victor Bolden
    SE – Richard Mullaney/Obum Gwacham
    SB –Kevin Cummings

    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

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