OSU Fall Camp Day 4: Woods feeling it

CORVALLIS – On Thursday, Day 4 of Oregon State’s fall camp, defensive tackle Jalen Grimble, linebacker Kyle Haley, and receiver Victor Bolden turned in the highlights during team drills. Also, the Beavers were joined today with a surprise appearance by former receiver Kevin Cummings. And OSU busted out a drill I hadn’t seen yet in fall ball …

Today’s practice featured a new drill I hadn’t seen before. It placed the running backs and the tight ends against the linebackers in a one-on-one blocking drill. The linebackers tried rips, spins, swims, bull rushes, whatever they could to try and get past the blockers.

One thing I learned from this is that Storm Woods takes his blocking very seriously. He wasn’t the only one, but he was definitely the loudest.

In one of his reps, Woods kept his man from getting by him so he started yelling, pounding his chest and high fiving his teammates in celebration. On a later rep, D.J. Alexander blew by him, and Woods punched the turf in frustration.

Other players who looked good in this drill include recently suspended linebacker Darrell Songy and redshirt freshman T.J. Hufanga, who ripped past Kellen Clute on one occasion.

Kevin Cummings navigated the sidelines, greeted coaches, talked to a few players, and otherwise watched the Beavers practice. Head man Mike Riley expressed how much he missed having the receiver on his roster.

“Kevin Cummings is an absolute joy to coach,” Riley said. “The guy is smart, tough, you could tell him something and then you could see it happen on the field. We’re not getting that right now, maybe he could help us teach some of the guys. I really admire the guy.”

Thursday’s practice, just like yesterday’s, was missing three players due to injury. Isaac Seumalo is still in a walking boot, Dashon Hunt is still out with a pulled hamstring, and Connor Hamlett had a brace on his right knee. Hunt said that he should be back on Monday.

As is custom, the day started off with the special teams units, followed by a slew of positional drills, then the offense went against the defense in 7-on-7 skeletons and again in some 11-on-11 plays.

During the special teams session, Trevor Romaine and Garrett Owens each tried two extra points, a 30-yarder from the right hash, and a 37-yarder from the left hash. Romaine, who had missed one extra point in each of the past two days, was flawless. Owens made all of his kicks as well.

When they practiced kick offs, each kicker was eerily similar to each other. Romaine’s kicks touched down at the 5, the 5, and the 11 yard-lines. Owens’ sent the football to the 5-, the 6-, and the 11-yard markers.

Returning kick offs today was Rahmel Dockery, Gabe Ovgard, and Xavier Hawkins. It’s tough to say who looked particularly good, although once they start trying to break tackles, I anticipate that a frontrunner emerges.

Returning punts was Steven Nelson, who will likely be the guy the Beavers go with now that Brandin Cooks is gone. Nelson sounded excited at the prospect of returning punts.

“Oh man, that’s one of the jobs that I want to do this year. Hopefully they let me get back there and return,” said Nelson.

In the skeleton drills, a 7-on7 mix where the offense goes against the defense with no linemen, both teams had their moments. The first team offense got nine plays in, the second team got six, and the third team got three.

Sean Mannion completed 6-of-9 attempts, three of which were to Bolden who made a diving catch on one throw, was wide open for another, and snared the third.

Mannion only had one bad decision, where he threw into triple coverage and should have been intercepted.

Luke Del Rio took snaps with the second team, and on his first throw he was intercepted by sophomore safety Zack Robinson, who undercut the receiver’s route.

Three of Del Rio’s passes were completed by receivers who were covered by recent junior college transfer Kyle Haley. All three throws were pretty short, and Haley was in position to make the tackle all three times.

Del Rio also took a shot deep to try and find Rahmel Dockery, but freshman cornerback Dwayne Williams matched him stride for stride and prevented the long play.

Overall, Del Rio went 4-of-6 with one interception and a lot of short completions.

Brent Vanderveen went 1-of-3 that included a nice, 20 yard catch by Malik Gilmore who got the better of safety Cyril Noland.

The teams stepped away from each other to go over a few plays before they reconvened with the linemen added.

In the full team drills, Victor Bolden, Jalen Grimble, and Kyle Haley all factored into the highlight reel. On one play, Grimble immediately broke through the line and had pressure on Mannion before he had a chance to find a receiver.

On the next, Grimble swatted the ball down at the line of scrimmage, which forced Mannion and company into a three-and-out.

The offense got its revenge, though. The next time the first team was on the field, Mannion found Bolden on a short pass. Bolden had great blocking down the sideline where defenders were unable to get to him, and Bolden took it to the house.

There were a lot of profanities from the defensive players after that happened.

Cornerback Steven Nelson, who often lines up against Bolden, said after practice that Bolden is the one receiver he’s been most impressed with so far in camp.

In today’s drills at least, Bolden got the better of Nelson but, to close out the drill, the defense ultimately had the last laugh. A Vanderveen pass attempt was tipped by freshman cornerback Kevin Hayes before being intercepted by Kevin Haley.

Defensive backs coach Rod Perry said he’s been happy with how camp has gone so far.

“It’s going good, you see guys getting better, and I’m excited about that,” Perry said. “We’ve seen some growth but we’ve got a long way to go.”

He went on to explain what the defensive backs have been working on up to this point.

“You’re trying to play football. Obviously they’ve got to know the defense, know what to do, how to do it, and do it with energy. You have a group of ones that’s been here, that are seniors, and you naturally expect them to be a little bit farther advanced, but we have some other people that are coming around, too.”

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