CORVALLIS- Tuesday ‘s practice heated up about halfway through as the first team defense made some nice stops and the offense looked stout despite missing two key starters. A running back returned to the starting offense from injury and the receiving corps was firing on all cylinders. Also, some fresh faces made an appearance on the starting D-line with the Beavs in a bye week.
Starting tailback Storm Woods was back to seeing consistent reps with the 1's Tuesday, sharing the workload with Terron Ward. Woods was a factor in all the regular areas you'd expect of an Oregon State running back and didn't look limited. He actually looked pretty juiced to be back on the practice field with his teammates. Sophomore O-lineman Gavin Andrews was also back to seeing reps in the starting offensive line rotation at right tackle, but those were minimal compared to Sean Harlow's first-team looks, who got the majority of snaps.
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks and tight end Connor Hamlett were inactive during Tuesday's practice, the result of Mike Riley looking to rest some of his veteran talent during the early swing of Oregon State's bye week.
Linebacker Joel Skotte (turf toe) did not don shells and was an observer on defense. Skotte's turf toe is not expected to keep him out of practice for very long.
Practice Notes Offense
It was a banner day for the receiving corps under Brent Brennan. Richard Mullaney and Victor Bolden (in for Cooks at flanker) made some tough catches. Micah Hatfield and Kevin Cummings also had good days. Cummings in particular looked to be in rare form, and the senior is really coming into his own as OSU's starting slot receiver.
Ward and Woods shared the first team reps at tailback and looked solid. A good portion of their collective success on Tuesday came in the OSU run game. There was some decent blocking by the interior linemen Isaac Seumalo, Grant Bays and Josh Andrews, and it helped open up running lanes for Woods/Ward, something the orange and black have struggled with all season.
Josh Mitchell was back to seeing some reps as a center with the second team offense during practice, but he was noticeably phased at times by his previously sprained ankle.
With Hamlett out, the lion's share of the pass receptions went to Tyler Perry and Caleb Smith when Sean Mannion was looking to hit his tight ends in the pattern. Perry's hands looked slightly improved, but his blocking was as good as ever. Smith had a so-so day. The sophomore made some tough grabs at times, but also failed to snag easier passes.
By the way, Smith showed signs of improvement in the red zone against Colorado, with a red zone TD catch – but he's still working on his consistency.
From what I observed, linebacker Jabral Johnson had a great day of practice. The junior who is currently filling in for the injured Michael Doctor was a force against both the pass and the run. Johnson nearly had an interception off of Kyle Kempt when the scout team offense faced the starting defense, and shortly thereafter he had a great pass block. Johnson and fellow ‘backer Rommel Mageo were disruptive influences on the ground game the scout O tried to throw at them.
Second string corner Larry Scott had a terrific interception on Tuesday. He vaulted himself above his assigned WR and placed his body directly in front of a pass. Scott hugged the rock to his chest as he fell to the turf, and there was a lot of applause for the sophomore after he came down with that grab.
Scott's fellow cornerback - junior Malcolm Marable – was equally impressive on the day. Marable was a tough defender and got his hands on the ball more than once while covering scout team receivers. The 5-7, 169 pound defender also saw a good chunk of time as a kick returner with the special teams unit, where he showed great acceleration and a knack for breezing past gunners and other threats once he got to running downhill.
Sophomore D-linemen Brandon Bennett and Lavonte Barnett were a factor in various substitution packages with Joe Seumalo's starting front four. Barnett has a lot of speed off the snap and is skilled at using his quick hands and technique to fly past an offensive tackle and create havoc in the opposing backfield. But Barnett is a DE built for swiftness and he was easily stopped the times when a blocker got a body on him and worked his shoulders properly. Bennett on the other hand is stronger and established more leverage when working as a defensive tackle, but he is still a bit undersized at 6-3, 285 and was neutralized when he didn't have a good initial burst off the line.
Note – OSU's defensive line is founded mostly on speed rather than size - Bennett is roughly average at 6-3, 285. Starting DT's Mana Rosa (6-3, 282) and John Braun (6-6, 288) are both former converted defensive ends whose physical traits are very similar to those possessed by Bennett.
Mark Banker's defense was at times pitted against a scout team O that was running a no huddle offense on Tuesday. It was a refreshing change of pace to observe, however it lends credence to the notion that the next stretch of games for OSU will be different – going against no-huddle offenses with some aptitude. These first few glances for the D were not bad at all, but there is plenty of work to be done in order to adequately prepare for what may or may not be in store for them when they travel to WSU and Cal.
Running with the 1's Offense
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Storm Woods/Terron Ward
H-Back – Tyler Perry/Kellen Clute
TE – Caleb Smith
LT- Michael Philipp
LG- Josh Andrews
C- Isaac Seumalo
RG- Grant Bays
RT- Sean Harlow, Gavin Andrews (minimal)
FL - Victor Bolden
SE – Richard Mullaney
SB –Kevin Cummings