The coming of a new week saw the start of the second week of pre-season football practices at Oregon St. And its going to be a busy, and important, week, with today's doubles the first of 3 such days this week, and 9 total practices before the next break.
You can also tell that things are getting serious based on the number of FCC-banned list words offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh is employing, and the number of bear-crawls his crew is doing.
Oregon St. head coach Mike Riley hopes to make at least preliminary decisions on which incoming freshmen to red-shirt (subject to in-season injuries), and which ones will play this season. Riley has indicated he's considering playing 3 or 4 this year.
It could also be the week we learn who is going to be the starting quarterback. After all 4 rostered qbs got in the rotations last week, it was almost exclusively Cody Vaz, who got most of the snaps with the "1s" today, and Sean Mannion, who took most of his snaps with the "2s", today.
When it comes to the receivers, "1s" and "2s" are really relative terms at this point though. WR Kevin Cummings was back in uniform, after missing 3 days last week with a pulled right hamstring, but wasn't all that noticeable. Richard Mullaney has gotten rid of his crutch, and looks like he might be back soon, but was still held out, with a hip pointer, and Micah Hatfield also was an on-looker today.
TE Caleb Smith also returned to action today, and the secondary is back at full strength as far as the first and second units go, as Ty Zimmerman, who missed some time at the end of the week, and Rashaad Reynolds, who also had to miss some sessions earlier in the week, were both back on the field, and showing no signs of wear and tear.
Some Serious Injuries
The only long-term injuries at this point are freshman TE Will Hopkins and sophomore o-lineman David Keller. Hopkins has a significant toe injury, and had an MRI today. Riley said it "looks terrible", so there's a good chance Hopkins will be one of those freshmen red-shirting. Given the depth at TE/HB, saving the season for the Texas youngster is probably in everyone's best interests.
The news ins't good about Keller, though. Keller had decided to retire from football as a result of concussion problems. At 6'3" and 315, he would have been a sizable factor at some point. Obviously, his long term health is more important, though.
One move made in order to balance out the receiving corps is moving redshirt freshman Malik Gilmore from WR into the slot, Cummings' normal starting position.
"We're very thin there," Riley said. "We're trying to look at the two-deep, and he's got a real good chance to be in the two-deep at slotback. I think he could be pretty good."
Today also saw the return to full action for FB Tyler Anderson, who has been working his way back into action after suffering a season ending ACL tear to his left knee last year against California. Kurt's Dam Links today has links to a couple of stories about Anderson's recovery, and also how he has bulked up for his return.
Anderson has added what is reported as about 10 lbs., moving the 5'10" back up to 225 lbs., and standing next to him, I think that's conservative. The eye-ball test says its more like 230 on his frame, and 10-15 lbs added is a lot on such a short rack.
It gives Oregon St. a real fire-hydrant type of back, which can be very helpful in short-yardage situations. It's also something the Beavers haven't had in a long time. The only backs that come to mind that have packed the heft Anderson does are Ryan McCants and Steven Jackson, and both of those were much taller frames; completely different styles of running back.
Anderson had already carved out a productive role last year, and not just as a blocker, picking up either a first down or a touchdown in a dozen of his 17 carries. Expect to see much more of Anderson this season, even despite the 1-2-3 punch of Storm Woods, Terron Ward, and Chris Brown.
"In the weight room, it's like he hasn't missed a beat," Woods said. "He's back cleaning 300, and squatting almost 500."
The key in employing Anderson to greatest affect will be using him in other than obvious situations, though. Last year, Jordan Jenkins became very good at routes out of the backfield, but was used so exclusively in 3rd down situations where moving the chains was the objective that the moment he stepped off the sideline, everyone in the stadium immediately knew what was coming.
The intriguing situation of the pre-season defensively continues to be the experiments at DT. With still no word on the JC defensive linemen transfers, Dylan Wynn continues to work in the middle. It appears the decision Riley and defensive line coach Joe Seumalo are trying to make is which DE between Wynn, Devon Kell, and John Braun to play where, and in what combination. Count on Wynn being on the field a lot, but don't count on where you will see him line up though. Kell looked impressive at times today at DE, making it an easier decision to move Wynn inside at times.
"Reading" the Safeties
Watching the secondary re-enforces the realization of just how important All-American Jordan Poyer was. The Oregon St. secondary, be it in a 4 man base set, or the frequently employed nickel, puts the corners in man matchups, but really requires the safeties to make reads and adjust based on what's coming at them. At this point, I'm seeing either a lot of assumption based safety play, where the decisions are made early, and either work out very well, or very far from it, or else reads are being missed. Hence the tendency to big plays, either offensively or maybe a pick.
I trust secondary coach Rod Perry more than any other coach on the staff to get these kind of details worked out, and he's constantly touching on things with players between every play. But you really appreciate how much Poyer did for the secondary now that he isn't doing it anymore.
After a second session tonight in Reser, Tuesday will be a single practice day, with doubles scheduled for Wednesday and Friday.