CORVALLIS – The spotlight for the Beavs is shining brightest on the running backs and the defense headed into Saturday. Will Terron Ward and Chris Brown suffice as OSU's primary RB options? Will the D hold down a mobile QB (another one?!) and what looks like a solid run game? BF.C readers know linebacker D.J. Alexander is pumped up, but what about his counterparts – Joel Skotte and Jabral Johnson?
Should Chris Brown
see any action as the second string tailback Saturday against San Diego State, it will mark his first collegiate play, a nerve-racking experience for just about any student-athlete and especially one coming off a foot injury. What is Mike Riley
expecting from redshirt freshman?
"I don't know what to expect for sure," Riley said. "I see good talent – he has really practiced well. (Brown) had a pretty good spring and an excellent fall camp. I'm actually very excited to see him."
OSU will march into SDSU with a pair RBs that stand well below 6-feet and are right around 200 pounds each. Any concerns there on Brown and junior Terron Ward
-- particularly in pass protection?
"Terron is a terrific blocker, and has been for a long time," Riley said Thursday. "Chris has shown all the capabilities of being a good blocker. (Brown) is a good all-around player, just like we need. He can run, he can block and he can catch, and it's nice to have guys that are versatile -- that way you don't have to substitute them in and out of a game."
Add it all up and what happens with the Beav RBs should make for some compelling viewing on multiple fronts when the Beavs meet the Aztecs.
Junior fullback Tyler Anderson was inactive on Thursday, the result of a tweaked hamstring according to Mike Riley. OSU's head man was quick to dismiss the matter, saying he thinks Anderson will be alright. Riley did not say whether or not Anderson is expected to start or participate in Saturday's tilt. If Anderson were not out there, it would give redshirt freshman fullback and walk on Ricky Ortiz his first collegiate start. Second string FB Michael Balfour has been injured for most of the last four weeks.
Stop the presses. Starting QB Sean Mannion was largely hot and cold on Thursday, OSU's last practice in Corvallis prior to heading down to San Diego. Mannion had issues with accuracy, some of what I would term ‘little mistakes' ranged from underthrowing Brandin Cooks to throwing behind Kevin Cummings. The junior signal caller did dial things in a bit toward the end of practice, where he was crisp and effective tossing to the likes of Cooks and Connor Hamlett.
Riley and his staff have been increasingly hesitant to put Sean Harlow on the field these first three games. It's clear they would like to preserve his redshirt and let him spend the 2013 season acclimating and developing. As a result, Harlow's role has been limited as far as seeing first and second team reps with any sense of regularity. However Harlow did see some time as a left guard with the 2's on Thursday, and he didn't look half bad. Should the O-line depth be further depleted prior to the eventual return of Grant Enger and Gavin Andrews, Harlow may still be called upon but we'll see.
Cooks and Richard Mullaney were their usual selves, making some sweet grabs while running trim routes, and Micah Hatfield was also a standout in the receiver corps. The senior saw some work as a second team split-end and flanker.
The whole first team defense was incredibly vocal on Thursday. Players and coaches alike were encouraging black clad members of the starting rotation to communicate everything. It seemed to very effective and helped to keep perhaps the usually quieter members of the defense – such as Joel Skotte and Tyrequek Zimmerman – on their toes. It was also one of the few times I've heard players consistently louder than their coaches throughout the course of a practice.
Rashaad Reynolds and Sean Martin were aggressive, wrapped up well and showed quick hands and feet. Seniors both, the cornerback duo broke up a few passes and played tight coverage.
Junior DT Edwin Delva saw a few first team reps throughout practice and in specific packages.
Fellow junior and starting DE Dylan Wynn was both physical and very vocal. He was a big reason why the Beaver stop corps looked solid from this chair on Thursday.
Skotte and Jabral Johnson had some nice stops that were impressive both for the physical and mental ingredients that went into them. Skotte was practicing with a bit more confidence today I thought, and he was more effective against the pass. Johnson was particularly effective on certain plays SDSU is expected to run.
Running with the 1's – Day
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Terron Ward
FB – Ricky Ortiz
H-Back – Connor Hamlett
TE – Caleb Smith
LT- Michael Philipp
LG- Josh Andrews
C- Josh Mitchell
RG- Grant Bays
RT- Isaac Seumalo
FL –Brandin Cooks
SE – Richard Mullaney
SB –Kevin Cummings
DE – Dylan Wynn
DT – John Braun
DT – Mana Rosa
DE –Scott Crichton
WIL –D.J. Alexander/ Jabral Johnson
MIK – Joel Skotte
SAM – Jabral Johnson/D.J. Alexander
CB- Rashaad Reynolds
CB- Steven Nelson
CB-Sean Martin (Nickel)
FS – Tyrequek Zimmerman
SS – Ryan Murphy