Observations From Oregon St. Wednesday Practice

Storm Woods works on picking up the rush to protect Sean Mannion in Oregpn St.'s practice session. - (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

One observer commented that Oregon St.'s 5th spring practice session looked a lot like a regular fall practice, and generally, that's a good thing, in that in most cases, at least until those rehabbing injuries return, the position groups and general schemes are already settling in, with the emphasis on adjustments, and subtle experiments.

It also means that, as one might suspect with a large number of returners, things aren't still in a state of confusion.

But it also means that a few injuries are starting to show up. LB Michael Doctor wasn't in action today, resting an ankle tweaked on Monday.

WR Malik Gilmore, one of the players in the running to replace Kevin Cummings come fall, also missed much of today's practice, with his right shoulder wrapped in ice.

Neither Doctor nor Gilmore's injuries are believed to be serious, or expected to linger long term.

And even those in rehab mode, not spring drill mode, can find their way onto the injury report, as C Isaac Seumalo, who isn't practicing this spring, has experienced a slight setback, and was on a scooter at practice, with his left foot in a boot.

The takeaway from the day for me was how Coach Mike Riley and his assistants are continuing to experiment with how and where they can inject speed into the defense.

After noting on Monday Cyril Noland-Lewis' shift back to safety, today I saw Dashon Hunt in some coverage assignments in traffic many might find surprising, given his 5'8" stature, and barely topping 180 lbs.

But without getting in trouble with Coach Riley for reporting too much detail from the practices, all of which are open to the public, suffice it to say its likely Riley and backfield coach Rod Perry are looking for the next Steven Nelson, who got on the field last fall possibly ahead of some of his skills, and in creative ways, because his speed allowed him to get to balls no one else could. Watching for opportunities for Hunt's speed to make a difference will be something to monitor as the every Monday-Wednesday-Friday practice schedule during April, at 10 AM each day, continue, and in the Spring Football Showcase on Sat. May 3.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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