CORVALLIS – There was good news on the injury front coming out of Wednesday's session, and some not so good news. Sean Mannion – what a shocker – had another solid day. Meanwhile, the defensive secondary was alternately stingy, and a little too sure of themselves. And defensive coordinator Mark Banker let them know it.
Sophomore tight end Caleb Smith
was active in practice on Wednesday, a pleasant development for head coach Mike Riley
, who spoke with the media afterward about a healthy Smith, an injured Connor Hamlett
and the myriad implications of banged up knees.
"I'm glad that he was practicing today," Riley said of Smith. "Because these guys are young and they need to practice – if they are going to play well, they need to work."
The news is not as positive for Hamlett, the junior tight end who sustained a knee injury against Washington State. But it's not completely terrible either.
"Connor will have surgery, and I think he will be back in one or two weeks." Riley said. "I think Stanford is like a wish list (for Hamlett's return), and I can't say for certain, but I feel really good about (having him back for) ‘SC." Riley said.
Hamlett's absence for both Cal and Stanford would mean OSU needs a new starting H-back and how it would affect the tight ends group overall.
"We will play all of them," Riley said. "We'll play (Kellen) Clute, we'll play (Tyler) Perry, and Caleb will start."
Redshirt freshman tight end Dustin Stanton
, who has been a constant fixture on the scout team since the end of fall camp, was pulled away from his regular duties with the scout offense Wednesday and got some reps with the starting rotation.
"Dustin's got a good future." Riley said of the 6-4, 250 pounder. "He is a prototype guy, physically, for us. He's just got to learn more, and he is absolutely in the mix in this picture."
Sophomore receiver and reception magician Richard Mullaney was back on the practice field after spending the last two practices out of action due to turf toe. From what I observed, Mullaney was easing his way back into things, probably looking to get some work in but not aggravate the injury.
Smith, a second-year sophomore did not appear to be favoring his ankle as he moved through the day's events.
Junior QB Sean Mannion had a good all-around day. His throws were sharp ad he had plenty of time to get rid of the ball thanks to strong blocks from his front five against the scout team. Mannion and senior backup quarterback Cody Vaz really spread the ball around Wednesday, making connections with a multitude of targets including freshman wideout Victor Bolden, redshirt freshman Malik Gilmore, Smith, Perry and of course junior receiver Brandin Cooks.
Barring something unforeseen, the starting o-line for Cal figures to again consist of Michael Philipp at left tackle, fellow senior Josh Andrews at left guard, sophomore Isaac Seumalo at center, senior Grant Enger holding down the right guard spot and freshman Sean Harlow manning right tackle. Sophomore tackle Gavin Andrews has been practicing well but as Riley said last week, Harlow has now seen lots of starts this season to Andrews' donut.
The first team secondary once again blew away the scout team offense, but all was not golden in the back 40.
Steven Nelson nabbed three picks within the first five minutes of drills between the scout team and the first string defense, and looked stout for the remainder of the day. Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman on the other hand got a little sloppy at times, and each had possible interceptions slip right through their hands when they were covering threats in the pattern.
On top of that, defensive coordinator Mark Banker once again took exception to his players getting a little lazy in their protections. Once or twice he forced his charges to repeat a play or formation that they had not looked crisp enough defending.
From this chair, Banker is pulling out all the stops on his defense now. Cal represents not only a contest in which the cornerbacks and safeties will need to come up big, but the final stepping stone ahead of the most difficult part of the schedule.
Sophomore second string defensive tackle Brandon Bennett was back in pads and went right back into his usual role in the DT rotation.
Running with the 1's
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Storm Woods
FB – Tyler Anderson
H-Back – Tyler Perry/Kellen Clute
TE – Caleb Smith/Kellen Clute
LT- Michael Philipp
LG- Josh Andrews
C- Isaac Seumalo
RG- Grant Enger
RT- Sean Harlow
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
MIK – Rommel Mageo
SAM –Jabral Johnson
CB- Rashaad Reynolds
CB- Steven Nelson
CB-Sean Martin (Nickel)
FS – Tyrequek Zimmerman
SS – Ryan Murphy