Fall Camp Day 2: A watch on Woods, Songy out

CORVALLIS -- It’s day two of Oregon State’s fall camp, with more drills, no spills, and lots of coaching. It comes a day after the announcement that sophomore linebacker Darrell Songy has been suspended for all of this season for “violation of athletic department policy.”

The suspension of Darrell Songy was announced Monday night and confirmed on Tuesday morning. Even though he will not be with the team on game day, Mike Riley said that Songy is still a part of the team every other day of the year.

The linebacker corps is no stranger to absent players. The group was hit hard with injuries last year, as D.J. Alexander is well aware.

“I mean, we could always use extra guys out there. Like last year, you never know when somebody goes down. Then you’ve got to go into the depth chart and bring guys up. We lost that, but I think we’re going to be good regardless,” said Alexander.

The suspension of Songy could mean a bigger role for junior college transfer Kyle Haley.

Haley has been practicing with the second team defense at outside linebacker since he joined the team for fall camp.

Unrelated to the Songy situation, linebackers Alexander, Michael Doctor and Jabral Johnson are all sporting a new look: shaved heads.

Alexander explained that “(Johnson) brought it up, said, ‘Hey, all the linebackers, let’s shave our heads. Try something new.’”

Alexander went on to say that he likes the new look, as does Riley.

“It’s a good look,” he said. “They all look good in it, so I guess they’re trying to copy me.”

All that aside, today’s camp started with the special teams unit.

Most notably, the entire unit was on the field at once, allowing Trevor Romaine to get a few kicks in under a game-type situation. He tried a few extra points and then a few field goals from each side of the field. Romaine’s first extra point sailed through the middle of the uprights, as expected. However, he shanked his second try and missed left.

From further back, he drilled another one through the uprights, and a fourth kick either barely squeezed inside the right upright or it missed. I didn’t have a good enough look from where I was standing.

The special teams unit remained on the field to go over punting and kickoff formations, while the quarterbacks were with offensive coordinator John Garrett working on pocket awareness.

Garrett would come at the quarterbacks from different angles and the QBs had to adjust to where they felt the pressure. It should come as no surprise, but Sean Mannion had the most agility, the most balance, and the most efficient movements of the quarterbacks.

Brent Vanderveen and Luke Del Rio each looked pretty good, though not quite as polished.

The special teams continued practicing punt returns, and there were three occasions where they actually played the return (minus the tackling). Steven Nelson, Rahmel Dockery, and Terron Ward all got a chance to run one back.

Of the three, Nelson had the best return, although he did have the most room to work with when he caught it. Regardless, he was fast, made quick cuts, and identified the open field well.

Dockery and Ward were both covered pretty well by the time the ball got to them and they couldn’t really do much with the ball. Credit goes to Keith Kostol for booming what must have been a 50+ yard punt on Dockery’s return.

When the special teams unit was finished, the players broke off into positional drills.

The wide receivers did a bit of blocking, although not without several interruptions from receivers coach Brent Brennan on proper technique.

The defensive backs did some interception drills, a few closing drills, and a few drills where they ran with receivers.

The linebackers did a few tackling drills, and they spent a lot of time reacting to different plays. Later in the day, the defensive backs and linebackers came together to work on different defensive schemes.

The highlight of practice was when the quarterbacks were throwing with defense from the cornerbacks.

Mannion actually had a bit of trouble with the added defender, and he threw back-to-back interceptions at one point. To be fair though, the drill only included one receiver and one defender, meaning throws had to be made no matter how strong the coverage was.

One of the picks was by Ryan Murphy, with Malik Gilmore as the intended target. The second was by Larry Scott with Richard Mullaney out in the pattern.

Of all the players catching passes from Mannion and crew, one of the guys I noticed most was running back Storm Woods. He’s getting into his routes quickly and effortlessly, making the throws easy on the quarterbacks.

This isn’t necessarily a surprise, as Woods is an experienced receiving threat out of the backfield, having had 47 receptions for 440 yards last year and 38 for 313 the year before. But BeavFans will be excited this season if he continues doing what I saw today.

Between backup quarterbacks Luke Del Rio and Brent VanderVeen, Del Rio participated in practice to a greater extent than VanderVeen, who had his helmet off while Mannion and Del Rio were taking snaps.

Both Del Rio and VanderVeen looked good, completing more passes than not, with a slight edge to Del Rio today in my book.

“I think Del Rio has done real well in the short time that he’s been with us: spring practice and now,” Riley said. “I think Brent VanderVeen has come a long way, as has Kyle Kempt. Brent is one of the best athletes that we’ve had at quarterback, and Luke brings a lot of quarterbacking skills to us. I think it’s a good picture. I don’t want any of them to have to play this year, but I think we’ve got plenty of guys who could be capable there.”

For the second straight day, the defensive line spent the majority of practice with D-line coach Joe Seumalo in the indoor facility next to the practice fields.

“Most of that stuff is just fundamentals, in terms of pass, pass rush, run, run defense, where we want to fit, where we want to finish, where we want to be able to put our eyes, to see if they can all put it together.”

In other words, the defensive line is developing the mental aspect of their game. Their work so far in training camp hasn’t been on physical drills, per se.

“Not at all,” Seumalo said. “I can do that the whole camp. I don’t mind the interaction we have with the offensive line when we start going at it, but I just want to keep guys healthy.”

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