Oregon St. quarterback Sean Mannion could have been as comfortable Wednesday than at any time previously during this year's summer camp. After all, for the second day in a row, the senior quarter back had his entire projected starting WR group together, as Victor Bolden, Richard Mullaney, and Hunter Jarmon are all healthy at the same time.
It's mostly those health issues in various areas that prompted head coach Mike Riley to decide against a scrimmage today, opting instead for a shells only practice this morning, preceding this evening's last second practice session of the season.
"I've got some health issues to deal with," Riley said. "We're just beat up. The good news is they're coming back, so I didn't want to beat more of them up. I want them all now to rise toward the game, and we did that pretty well ... now I've got them all going into the scout team work and stuff for the next few days pretty healthy ... I've got a chance now to gather this team and go forward after what I think was a very physical camp."
Oregon St. has has far more physical contact this pre-season than the last couple of years, with contact sessions daily.
One player that Riley won't get back for a while though is center Isaac Seumalo.
After being scheduled to be re-evaluated by doctors Tuesday, Seumalo was at practice today, with his left foot, which had 2 surgeries after it was broken in the Hawaii Bowl, wrapped in ice. Riley has now ruled Seumalo out of next Saturday's season opener, at 1 PM Aug. 30 against Portland St.
Oregon St. did get a couple of offensive linemen back, at least partially, as Fred Lauina, who suffered a hit to the head yesterday, Grant Bays, who had another back issue, and Dustin Stanton, who injured his ankle, all returned to practice, though they were all held out of contact drills.
Fullback Tyler Anderson remains out of action, after suffering a knee/groin injury, and RB Terror Ward also sat out most of practice, with ice on his thigh.
Defensively, DT Siale Hautau and CB Cyril Noland-Lewis both returned to practice, and LB DJ Alexander continued to practice, though he was held out of contact.
DBs Dashon Hunt and Naji Patrick also didn't practice again today.
Kicker Trevor Romaine was also not at practice, but that isn't an injury issue. Riley said it was "an off-the-field matter that I will finalize with you (the media) soon." Perhaps tomorrow we will learn details.
Practice has been largely turned into what looks like preparations for a 7 on 7 passing league (eve though we did see a pitch play from Mannion to Storm Woods), and that's not all bad, given that that's what the games against California, Washington St., probably Arizona St., and very possibly Oregon will turn into.
But if the pass-run ratio gets much under a 2:1 ratio, several things are going to have to change, and dramatically.
Fortunately, the receiving corp is nearly completely healthy, and the tight ends are looking quite good. Today, Kellen Clute had several catches, and senior transfer Jacob Wark continues to turn in big plays. Though Clute and Wark's work were mostly with and against the second string, it's apparent that like last year, Riley will be using 4 TEs effectively over the long haul.
The backup quarterback derby still seems to be between just Brent Vander Veen and Luke Del Rio. Del Rio seemed much more at ease than he did in Saturday's scrimmage, though he did throw a red-zone pick in one 7 on 7 drill. At least he drove the team into scoring position.
Defensively, the "first string" didn't always include DE Jaswha James, DT Jalen Grimble, and even DE/DT Dylan Wynn.
But as Wynn explained afterwards, "We really have 8 'starters' on the defensive line, and will use a number of combinations, depending on the situation. Each of us bring something a little bit different as our best, and so we will deploy whatever makes the most sense on any given down, against any given formation."
The same may turn out to be the case with the receivers, which are seeing more of them healthy than at any prior point this summer. Rahmel Dockery in particular made some impressive catches in traffic.
Practice will continue tomorrow, at 10:20 AM, and continue through Saturday, before the team moves into a game-week routine next week, in preparation for the Vikings.