With most of the state's media covering the You-Tube video of the Car 54 incident with Oregon Safety Cliff Harris in the aftermath of his 118 mph traffic stop, it looked like the biggest story of the day regarding Oregon St. would be the arrival of a new punter. Which says something about just how quiet it was in Corvallis.
Unfortunately, senior defensive tackle Kevin Frahm injected himself into the headlines, though. Frahm, the starting right DT, got banged around mid-way thru the afternoon's practice, hurting both his knee and his ankle, and was on crutches after practice on his way to dinner at the Valley Football Center.
"Anytime you have an injury now, you just grit your teeth,'' head coach Mike Riley said. "Because you've got to practice, and you've got to practice fast. It isn't real football without the physical part. But you've also gotta get your team through the season as best as you can.''
Due to the lack of both size and starting experience in the front 7, losing Frahm is about as big a single blow as the Oregon St. defense could suffer. It will be important to monitor how soon Frahm can return.
Riley's remarks are an interesting contrast to the pace that WR/KR James Rodgers is being brought along at. Rodgers worked in 7 on 7 drills for the first time, but still without contact, something he will have to experience before it happens in a game.
Riley felt it was another good step for Rodgers.
“It’s about building blocks and gaining confidence, Riely said after practice. "He looks fast to me.”
It should be noted that Riley is talking about himself gaining confidence, not Rodgers.
It's understandable that Riley is nervous about anything that might produce more missed time for anyone, though, given the large number of players watching with miscellaneous injuries.
The secondary has been especially hard hit, with starting CB Brandon Hardin nursing a shoulder, starting Safety Lance Mitchell missing today with sore abdominal muscles, plus three more CBs, Rashaad Reynolds (knee), Brian Watkins (shoulder), and Sean Martin (concussion) who also missed practice.
OLD Cameron Collins also watched, resting his recently surgically repaired groin, and DE Blake Harrah and WR Daryl Catching both also sat out the day with a sore knee apiece. DT Michael Phillip practiced, but is also struggling with a sore knee. That has about ended the right tackle battle, with Colin Kelly clearly claiming the spot, unless (shudder) he should get nicked up as well.
TE Joe Halahuni, who is practicing, but not cleared for contact yet either, in the aftermath of shoulder surgery last spring, is hoping that changes next week when he makes his next visit to the doctor.
"I’m working hard doing the rehab, and I’m feeling stronger," Halahuni has said several times.
Halahuni will doubtless try to convince his doctor that he's ready to resume mixing in up. Which could help Riley with his dilemma about when to suspend which freshman TE that were involved in the weekend party that produced multiple MIPs. Without Halahuni, Riley is left with only TE besides Connor Hamlett and Tyler Perry, both involved in hosting the party.
Beavers Get An Aussie By Way Of Humboldt St.
Oregon St. special teams coach Bruce Read invited Aussie Tim McMullen to join the team, giving the Beavers a third punter. McMullen, who punted for Division II Humboldt St. Arcata, CA, last year, paying his own way to the tune of about $17,000, told the Eureka Times-Standard he is headed for Corvallis, and a full scholarship. Oregon St. is reportedly already at the 85 scholarship limit, so it remains to be seen whether McMullen, who will be a sophomore this fall, will be a walk-on until something happens that frees up a scholarship, or if Riley has some creative shuffling in the works.
McMullen punted 46 times as a freshman for the Lumberjacks of the GNAC, for 1884 yards, about a 41 yard per punt average. His longest kick went for 65 yards, and went to the one yard line, one of 12 punts he dropped inside the 20.
McMullen's connection to Oregon St. came through former San Diego punter Darren Bennett, a fellow Australian who punted for the Chargers when Riley and Read coached there.
Here's a highlight video:
McMullen is expected to immediately challenge incumbent senior Johnny Hekkar, not just be an emergency backup, and is a good bet to take over the job next year. Hekkar has been inconsistent, offsetting some great efforts with the occasional shank job, sometimes at inopportune times. And the Beavers' other punter, Keith Kostol, has not impressed in camp or last spring.
Oregon St. has a busy day tomorrow, with an 8:30 session in full gear, followed by a helmets and shoulder pads only evening practice at 6:30.