CORVALLIS – It's all about the Huskies now, the loss to ASU is ancient history to OSU. Mike Riley and his team took to the Truax Center on Tuesday with renewed energy and pep in their step. The offense was sharp, the defense aggressive and quick on their feet. But with such a huge tilt against the UW and Senior Night looming, why were the Beavs all smiles and seemingly so relaxed on Tuesday?
"It's still kind of little early in the prep, but we are into it somewhat," Mike Riley
said. "The last game is behind you pretty much, you're heading into, hopefully, new life."
Saturday's match with Washington represents not only a chance at new life but the proverbial "must win" game for both the Beavs (6-4) and the Huskies (6-4).
It's also a huge day for Beaver senior athletes including corner Rashaad Reynolds
, defensive tackle Mana Rosa
and three of the five starting offensive linemen for OSU -- Michael Philipp
, Josh Andrews
and Grant Enger
"This is a great group of young men," Riley said. "They've been fun to coach, and the seniors have been one of the main reasons for it. If you don't have good seniors, it makes life tough. These guys – we're very proud of them and we want to send them out with a win."
Over the weekend, Riley mentioned to members of the media that he felt that in order for his team to perform better on game days, it would require the coaching staff to do a better job of ‘detailing the game' prior to setting up that first snap on Saturday's. BF.C asked Riley if and how that increase in attention to detail would affect practices moving forward.
"I think it's within the confines of what we always do," Riley said. "We've just got to help our kids… When things aren't going well, or even if they are, you've got to be right on top of being able to help them be prepared to play. And that's our job - we've got to never leave a stone unturned."
Riley told the media Sunday evening that he knew junior quarterback Sean Mannion would come out firing to start the week of practice leading up to the Washington game. As far as the big picture goes, Mannion was on-point with roughly 90 percent of what left his hands Tuesday. He did, on a few occasions, throw behind a target or lead him just a little too far in the pattern, and he once one of the more efficient pass rushes from the scout team D got to him. But overall, the junior signal caller did well.
Sophomore running back Storm Woods and his junior counterpart Terron Ward managed to spread the scout team D-line pretty thin on a few plays, and broke off big runs at least three times, two of which were attached to the legs of No. 24. The pair also factored into the passing game here and there.
Junior fullback Tyler Anderson and sophomore tight ends Kellen Clute and Caleb Smith were all integral to the success of Mannion's arm Tuesday, and Anderson saw a few runs with the starting offense. Junior H-back Connor Hamlett got in the mix with the offensive frenzy, and made a powerful grab after muscling a defender aside when the starting offense and starting linebacker/secondary unit challenged one another toward the start of the session.
Brandin Cooks was engaged during Tuesday's practice but as expected, did not see time running with the first team wideouts. Cooks was dressed but continued to rehab an aggravated hamstring by standing in on huddles, offering advice to senior receiver Mitch Singler and freshman Victor Bolden, and practicing his catching with the help redshirt freshman QB Brent Vanderveen. Riley mentioned the hope is for Cooks to be back to full speed by Wednesday's practice.
Yes, that's right, I said Mitch Singler above when talking about the receivers. For the past two practice sessions, Singler has seen his reps increase. Riley indicated that this was due to a combination of Cooks' absence and the impending Senior Day, where Singler could see some looks depending on how the game pans out.
Freshman receiver Richard Mullaney caught more of the passes that went his way on Tuesday, he stood out to me more Tuesday than he has over these last few weeks.
I entered the doors of the Merritt Truax Indoor Practice Center to the sounds of Mike Cavanaugh unleashing the dogs of war upon his offensive line in the way of colorful expletives and vigorous pointing gestures. While Cavanaugh's less-than-Disneyland demeanor is not exactly a new occurrence at football practice, he was going full-tilt for about two straight minutes, spending time on each man before his corps of blockers got back to work. For the most part, Oregon State's offensive line performed well on Tuesday, something that obviously couldn't be said on Saturday.
Junior corner Steven Nelson was very aggressive at the start of practice, closing gaps between him and opposing wide receivers with ease and wrapping up well when he was called upon to defend certain routes. Across from Nelson, senior corner Reynolds also fared well, but was once beaten by Bolden on a throw from Mannion. Reynolds also struggled to get a body on Hamlett once or twice when the 6-7, 263-pound H-back got in his grill.
Coaches were very animated and vocal on the defensive side of the ball Tuesday, and this was most apparent with secondary coach Rod Perry. He traveled up and down the field all afternoon, yelling, whispering and otherwise encouraging his platoon of cornerbacks and safeties to play their best football. When the ball was snapped, Perry was hollering coverages and protection schemes while the Beavs roamed the pattern keeping an eye on their marks. Perry, along with defensive coordinator Mark Banker, receivers coach Brent Brennan and Riley were all incredibly energetic, and it rubbed off on their charges.
Junior safety Tyrequek Zimmerman and junior linebacker Jabral Johnson were both very active. They made quick reads and were sharp in their execution.
It was a big day for redshirt freshman linebacker Cyril Noland. He started off the session operating with the second team defensive unit, where he wrapped up well against the run and passing game, and prevented a few balls from reaching their mark. Noland's biggest moment came about halfway through practice when he intercepted a tipped pass from the hand of redshirt freshman QB Kyle Kempt right before the pigskin hit the turf.
Sophomore MIK linebacker Joel Skotte continued to see his reps increase with the second team defense in coming back from a concussion against USC. Skotte seemed fresh enough on the turf, and didn't make many mistakes in the time I spent observing the defense. His first-string cohort, freshman Rommel Mageo, played with gusto as well and was a factor against the run and pass throughout practice.
Running with the 1's
QB – Sean Mannion
TB – Storm Woods
FB – Tyler Anderson
H-Back – Connor Hamlett
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 – Malik Gilmore
DE – Dylan Wynn
DT – Edwin Delva/Siale Hautau
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