CORVALLIS - The injury news on slot receiver Kevin Cummings was bleak -- but there also numbered reasons for hope coming out of OSU's practice session Tuesday on some of the other walking wounded for the Beavs. Both the offense and defense practiced hard and there were some highlights from unfamiliar faces. But first, the injury updates…
"Kevin (Cummings) is out indefinitely," said head coach Mike Riley on Tuesday. "Maybe he could be back for a bowl game. He had surgery today on his wrist."
It's a big loss for the offense, according to Riley.
"It's bad, I really will miss him, he's such an easy guy to coach," Riley said of the senior.
"His experience and savvy and his investment was huge. These guys that are coming in have to really step up to fill that void. Micah Hatfield and Malik Gilmore will be the guys."
Cummings, Riley has said in the past, had an incredible work ethic and got the most out of his abilities because of it.
Other injury updates
Junior linebacker D.J. Alexander (stinger), senior defensive tackle John Braun (shoulder), sophomore tight end Caleb Smith (back spasms) and junior tight end Connor Hamlett (knee) continue to be day-to-day for Friday night's game against USC. Not one member this quartet practiced Tuesday, and all donned sweats.
Riley didn't want to predict who all might be ready to go but perked up when asked about his tight ends. "I don't know where Caleb Smith is, he might be able to play," Riley said. "Then Connor Hamlett is actually doing very well, so we'll see if we can get him back for the game."
Daily Riley – In Brief
USC has allowed 14 or less points in six games this season, and Riley knows that his offense is not going to have it easy against the visiting Trojans on Friday.
"We're going to have to play a whale of a game to beat them and we're just going to have to do a much better job of blocking up from than we did a week ago." Riley said.
Practice Notes Offense
Oregon State's offense looked sharp running through their plays on Tuesday and they covered a lot of ground, metaphorically speaking.
Hatfield has been plagued by injuries over his OSU career, but he does seem to have a vast knowledge of the OSU offensive scheme. Gilmore showed off his athleticism, but sometimes has difficulty locating the ball. From this chair, he will need to fine tune a few routes if he is to produce on Friday and beyond.
I was impressed by junior tailback Terron Ward's plant-and-go. Sophomore and starter Storm Woods also looked good, and had a few sharp moves on the day that helped him pick up additional yardage in the open field.
Woods had help when it came to finding that room, thanks almost exclusively to the efforts of sophomore tight end and potential starter for Friday's match, Kellen Clute. He showed proficiency blocking and in everything else that was asked of him. Due to the fluctuating and often banged up nature of the TE corps, Clute has been spending a lot of time with the first team both in practice and on game days, and I don't expect that to change too awful much this week.
Junior QB Sean Mannion had a good day, despite having his receiving rotation being forced to dig deeper into the depth chart for playmakers. Gilmore, a redshirt freshman, and Hatfield, a senior, looked decent and both have a knack for getting off the line. The big question is their reliability at this stage of the week.
The offensive line played hard against the scout team defense and managed to hold them off with relative ease – no surprise there. Particularly strong was the performance of those in the middle -- senior guards Grant Enger and Josh Andrews, as well as sophomore center Isaac Seumalo. Freshman tackle Sean Harlow set some good blocks, but his footwork was a little off at times, even though he was generally in proper position. All eyes will be on him and senior tackle Michael Philipp this week, as the Stanford loss shed light on some major failings out on the edges.
There was rotation aplenty within the ranks of the Beaver's front seven on defense. Alexander was replaced by redshirt freshman Caleb Saulo on the weakside of the defensive formation, where he managed to nab an interception off of scout team QB Kyle Kempt about halfway through practice. Saulo, along with first team cohorts, junior SAM Jabral Johnson and redshirt freshman MIK Rommel Mageo, were alert and energetic throughout the session, moving well against the scout team mimicking the USC offense.
Rotation, rotation, rotation. Sorry to sound like a repetitive real-estate agent, but it's the best way to describe what the D-line did on Tuesday. Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn are still running with the 1s, still healthy, nothing to see here…kinda. Senior defensive end Devon Kell and sophomore Lavonte Barnett got a wealth of looks on the edge of the line. Kell got penetration on a few plays and Barnett managed to bat a pass down at the line of scrimmage.
The pension for rotating frequently was also seen on the inside. With Braun sidelined, the Beavs alternated between juniors Edwin Delva and Siale Hautau, as well as sophomore Brandon Bennett and redshirt freshman Noke Tago, which all proved to be beneficial for the front four of the stop corps.
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as Riley said Sunday he planned to lighten the practice load of the starters, which includes DT Mana Rosa, Crichton and Wynn.
Still, Tago and Bennett have both seen an increase in the number of repetitions they receive in practice of late and have been putting in a steady effort in the absence of Braun. So there could certainly be a lot of rotation Friday, especially if Braun isn't cleared to play.
The secondary had a little fun to start the day's practice session -- the corners and safeties faced off against one another in coverage drills where one man acted as the opposing wideout and another member in his usual role. It was just a little warm-up drill but there were a few standouts, particularly junior safety Ryan Murphy and junior corner Steven Nelson, who made pass defense look pretty easy.
When corners and safeties got to lining up across form the scout team, Nelson and senior corner Rashaad Reynolds stuck to their assignments like glue and had a few pass deflections. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker mentioned yesterday that he wants his starting defense to "play pissed off" this week, and I saw hints of that in both Nelson and Reynolds. Senior nickel corner Sean Martin had a strong outing as well.
Linebackers, corners and safeties closed out the day defending the red zone, where they had mild success but were very communicative with one another. Communicating on the field has been one most heavily enforced themes of Banker and linebacker coach Trent Bray.
Running with the 1's
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Storm Woods/Terron Ward
FB – Tyler Anderson
TE – Kellen Clute/Tyler Perry
LT- Michael Philipp
LG- Josh Andrews
C- Isaac Seumalo
RG- Grant Enger
RT- Sean Harlow
FL –Brandin Cooks
SE – Richard Mullaney
SB – Micah Hatfield/Malik Gilmore
DE – Dylan Wynn
DT – Edwin Delva/Siale Hautau
DT – Mana Rosa/Brandon Bennett
DE –Scott Crichton
WIL – Caleb Saulo
MIK – Joel Skotte
SAM –Jabral Johnson
CB- Rashaad Reynolds
CB- Steven Nelson
CB-Sean Martin (Nickel)
FS – Tyrequek Zimmerman
SS – Ryan Murphy