When the depth chart for this week's Oregon State Homecoming contest Saturday night against Colorado came out, what we began to see last Saturday in Pullman, and what Coach Gary Andersen had made reference to on several occasions recently, was formalized, with several changes to the secondary assignments.
Larry Scott's sprained ankle further forced some the moves, but Andersen was already committed to trying to find a better fit for the pieces of the secondary puzzle.
While Scott hasn't been officially been ruled out for this week, he didn't practice today, and isn't even on the depth chart, with Dwayne Williams, who played his most extensive amount of minutes ever against Washington State scheduled to get the start in Scott's place, and opposite Treston Decoud, whom Williams actually got the start over last week. That only lasted until Scott's second quarter sprained ankle, when Williams switched to that spot.
Cyril Noland-Lewis moves to the Nickel back spot Devin Chappell has been starting at, with Chappell still getting snaps in the rotation at strong safety, along with Adam Soseman, who also got work backing up Justin Strong, and Brandon Arnold, who had his first career interception against the Cougars. Arnold is also in the string of "ORs" at strong safety, and could well be the one who gets the official start against the Buffs.
Andersen has been looking for the best fit for Noland-Lewis, who is one of the fastest Beavers, and has a reach edge over most of the other DBs.
Another CB with some reach is Kendall Hill, who also saw quite a bit of action Saturday, his most to date. And with Scott likely out, will again against Colorado.
Beyond Hill, Soseman is the only name that's relatively new in the rotation in recent weeks, but the finer nuances of who covers which opposing receiver, and from what alignment, is getting some attention after the Arizona debacle, and then what happened against Washington State.
It's unlikely that Colorado, with a more balanced attack, will force Oregon State into as much 4-2-5, or 3-2-6 even, as happened in the second half, as the Washington State Air Raid did, but the look of the defense in the second half could be what we see against the California Bear Raid. 3 linebackers will likely usually be on the field at a minimum, and often 4, against the Buffs, and the following week at Utah.
Elsewhere, DT Jalen Grimble practiced today, and is expected in the rotation, which could give Kyle Peko a few more breaks, or possibly allow trying a 4 man front again against Colorado.
But at the same time, Nelson Spruce, one of the best possession receivers in the conference, will pose some challenges for the Beavers. However, Oregon State caught a bit of a break when the Buffs' Shay Fields suffered a sprained ankle against Arizona that will keep Colorado's best big play threat out of action this week.
On the offensive side of the ball, Will Hopkins practiced at right guard for the first time in several weeks, and is expected to be back in the rotation this week.
Finally, there's been some stir about the fact that Nick Mitchell is listed as the backup to Seth Collins this week, replacing Marcus McMaryion. Whether that's foreshadowing anything only Coach Andersen probably knows for sure, but it sure gives some junior beat reporters something to buzz about.