CORVALLIS – The big question is on the Beaver o-line headed into Utah, with two starters out for Saturday's tilt. With the linebacking corps also depleted, a safety is undergoing a crash course at ‘backer. Meanwhile, backup Cody Vaz is cleared to play against Utah if he is needed and the defense catches a little bit of fire in practice.
Where will Isaac Seumalo end up on the OL when the Beavs take on Utah this Saturday?
Practice Notes Offense
Injuries abound on the offensive line, with Grant Enger (two weeks), Roman Sapolu (likely out for season) and Justin Addie and Gavin Andrews currently incapacitated, Oregon State's offensive line looked like a patchwork quilt that could have used some stitches on Wednesday. One player in particular could be the needle and thread guy – Seumalo.
Practice indicated where the Beavs are leaning with Seumalo and normally, it wouldn't be a big deal to report on where a certain player was lining up. But given that the Beavers are two starters down on the line, and the variety of machinations the Beavs went through at Hawaii up front, we're making the command decision to treat this the same as if it were a particular formation or trick play. The Portland Tribune has reported the probable starting line for the Beavs to be LT Michael Philipp, LG Josh Andrews, C Josh Mitchell, RG Grant Bays and RT Isaac Seumalo.
Senior QB Cody Vaz was back and running with the 2's for Wednesday's practice, sporting few signs of the troubled shoulder that led to an MRI earlier this week. Riley said Vaz is expected to be ready and that he will back up Sean Mannion per usual.
Red zone drills were a focus for the starting offense Wednesday.
The tight end and tailback units looked great in certain situations.
At one point, Devan Filipe was making his home on the scout team defensive line. But Filipe adorned a white offensive practice jersey instead on Wednesday, and he was operating with the offensive line instead of the D-line. Is this a permanent move? Could be.
"We talked to (Filipe) about it, and he is all in," Riley said. "With our depth (on the O-line), good opportunity (to see playing time) down the road."
Filipe did not play both ways at Snow College in Utah, so this changeup to the O-line is completely new to him. The new o-tackle however will not be part of the travel squad and won't be with the team in Utah this weekend.
Riley mentioned that all signs point toward junior ‘backer D.J. Alexander being a go for the Utah game. Alexander was very active during OSU's practice session on Wednesday, running and reading plays alongside Jabral Johnson and Joel Skotte and alternating from the strong to weak side of formations when needed. Forget about if he's 100 percent, is the junior really in game shape to run for a full game in his first action back? That would seem to be asking a lot.
Cyril Noland is cramming all the linebacker knowledge he can into the week. The former safety is a back up with the starting three expected to be SAM Caleb Saulo, MIK Joel Skotte and WIL Jabral Johnson. Alexander has said he expects to be ready and to start at SAM. We'll see if that holds true or if next week might be instead be in the offing.
It was an aggressive day for the OSU starting defensive line, who were pushing and shoving the scout team OL around and getting pressure on freshman quarterback Kyle Kempt. Frequent rotation of players continues - Dylan Wynn and Devon Kell both moved around when the situation called for it.
The overall performance of the line was impressive, but individual showings could have been better. Senior DT Mana Rosa struggled here and there, and drew the ire of D-line Coach Joe Seumalo on one play when he failed to correctly complete his assignment. But all in all, the collective starting unit of Wynn, Rosa, tackle John Braun and defensive end Scott Crichton looked to be gathering some steam and their chemistry and timing of the various rotations seemed to be coming full circle.
The focus was on wrapping up opponents on Wednesday. From the starting secondary on down to the second string D-line – if a man was in their vicinity and he was carrying the ball, defenders were encouraged to rush him at full speed and essentially bear hug the heck out of him until the play was considered dead. The defense has been picking up speed during practices in a general sense – how much will it benefit them against a 2-0 Utah squad now that the Beavs also have two games under their belts?
Notable Notes – Special Teams
With Jovan Stevenson suspended for the first half of the Utah tilt this weekend for his late hit against Hawaii, Riley mentioned said safety Ryan Murphy and junior running back Terron Ward will take over kick returning duties for Stevenson.