CORVALLIS – It seemed only fitting with Stanford coming to town -- things were very physical during the Beavs' Tuesday practice session. Indeed, one side of the ball for OSU really kicked it into high gear during drills. Mike Riley talked about the Cardinal, we also zeroed in on an assistant coach to talk about what his unit faces in particular and we have some more looks at the Beaver practice.
The Daily Riley
One of the more pressing issues looking forward to the Beavs' homecoming contest revolves around what Stanford offers on defense, specifically their front seven, a group that Mike Riley
feels is indicative of the Cardinal team dynamic.
"They are really good," Riley said Wednesday. "Their whole team is athletic all over the place - every special team defense, offense – they've got a lot of big, good athletes that play everywhere."
In the last three weeks, Oregon State
has faced two teams in Cal and Washington State whose offensive production was oriented almost strictly around the pass. Stanford is different, and offers more of a power offensive scheme predicated on great O-line play and a talented running back in Tyler Gaffney
"That's our league these days, you're going to see such variety," Riley said. "I guess it's got to be really good for football and fun for everybody I would say – but not for defensive coaches. We've seen a hundred and something passes, spread offenses from sideline to sideline, and now you are going to see a very balanced attack."
BF.C asked Riley what changes in terms of preparation, if anything, when playing a Top 10 team.
"This team is excited, you don't have to change to play a big game," Riley said. "If you have to do that, you're probably not going to be successful. Your opportunity to beat a team like this is through your total summary of the preparation that you have had. If you can use all that and play your best game, you've got a shot.
Caleb Smith and Kellen Clute were more involved in certain practice routines on Tuesday, as expected with Connor Hamlett still slowed by a knee injury. Smith and Clute were generally sharp on the day, but Smith did have a dropped pass which he should have easily reeled in. Clute showed, in spurts, that he's learned from the experience he's received this season. Clute made some decent blocks and caught a few tough passes.
In looking at the front five, I've found that it impossible to ignore the progress of freshman right tackle Sean Harlow. The young blocker was very physical on Tuesday and really laid into a few of his blocks. His footwork has improved slightly, and I noticed that he seemed much less tentative when getting into the best position to make a block. Harlow has frequently been on the receiving of some aggressive coaching by OL coach Mike Cavanaugh but on Tuesday, most of the criticism was directed at the middle of the line as opposed to the outside edges.
There was quite a bit of rotation in the offensive ranks. No one unit stayed on the field for more than a few plays at a time. Junior QB Sean Mannion and senior Cody Vaz looked sharp on the day and their receiving options – ranging from junior wideout Brandin Cooks and freshman Victor Bolden (yes, they both practiced after being dinged at Cal), and senior slotback Kevin Cummings to redshirt freshman receiver Malik Gilmore and senior split-end Micah Hatfield – provided multiple opportunities for the signal callers to turn in solid throws and pick up chunks of yardage in the pattern.
Redshirt freshman fullback Ricky Ortiz was in on a few snaps in place of senior Tyler Anderson, who was inactive for the session
One thing really stood out to me on Tuesday – the defense was the most physical I have seen them in practice since the beginning of the season. Standard defensive procedure took on a whole new meaning on the afternoon, as ‘wrapping up' turned into bear hugs that would have been ferocious tackles if taken that final step. I sensed a higher level of focus indicative of a corps of athletes who know full well they face the No. 6 ranked team in the nation.
Senior defensive tackle John Braun remained on the sidelines Tuesday, rehabbing a shoulder injury. But OSU defensive line coach Joe Seumalo said that Braun should be ready to go for Saturday's contest. His absence from the day's activities opened up things for sophomore Brandon Bennett and redshirt freshman Noke Tago to get some looks with the first and second teams, and both tackles played hard-nosed football when their number was called.
The Beaver secondary had a solid day as well, albeit not as interception heavy as some of last week's outings. And while defensive backs and corners were not takeaway machines Tuesday, they were swift to close gaps and to get a hand on some of scout team QB Kyle Kempt's more accurate tosses. Junior safety Ryan Murphy broke up a handful of plays and fellow junior and safety Tyrequek Zimmerman held his own.
Sideline Chatter with Seumalo
BF.C asked about how a healthy defensive line rotation could benefit his unit against Stanford.
"It will be a big challenge, we've just got to be fundamentally sound," Seumalo said. "Stay alive, stay on our feet."
The injury to Braun is a major concern but Seumalo said he isn't worried about depth or the potential absence of Braun having any ill-effect. Seumalo maintains that defensive production is something that happens on the team level, that 11 guys go into making one big play after the other.
"I think they go hand in hand, our pressure and their coverage, or coverage then pressure," Seumalo said. "We have to be able to appreciate the efforts of our teammates both on the back end and up front. In terms of our confidence level, guys are starting to create their own identities within their athletic ability to make plays, and that is always a good thing."
When asked about Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney? That can't be answered, Seumalo said, without addressing something else.
"It's their offensive line, they've got some good skill players, but their offensive line is impressive," Seumalo said. "You look at the last couple years and almost all of those guys are playing on Sundays now. They've done a great job of recruiting those guys and being able to coach them up."
Running with the 1's
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Storm Woods
FB – Tyler Anderson
TE – Kellen Clute
TE – Caleb Smith
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 – Brandon Bennett/Edwin Delva/Noke Tago
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