Today's final open scrimmage of summer camp at Oregon St. didn't provide any separation in the quarterback competition between freshman Seth Collins and red-shirt freshman Marcus McMaryion. In fact, head coach Gary Andersen announced during the post practice fan autograph session that both would play in the opener against Weber St. And the week after at Michigan too.
"We're gonna go into the first game and we're gonna play both of them," Baldwin said. "And play both of them probably in the second game. And probably in the third game, I'll do the same thing. So they will not have to worry about who's gonna get the first reps, because the other guy's gonna play. One will take the first reps, but it doesn't mean he'll take the next reps. We'll alternate them in that first game."
Collins get the first reps today, and more reps with the 1s than McMaryion in the early going, but overall, McMaryion got more reps overall, and even replaced Collins in the middle of one drive sequence, though that could have been purely situational; I wouldn't read anything into that particular development.
It does seem that McMaryion is being every opportunity to play himself into the starting role, or out of it.
Collins, above, on the other hand, is the fan favorite, and is certainly the more spectacular of the two. And while an airborne flip a couple of seconds after the whistle had blown drew the biggest reaction of the day, it might have actually hurt Collins' case with Andersen, who, in the risk-averse nature of a head coach, didn't seem all that pleased with the maneuver, especially with in coming at a time when it wouldn't have mattered in a real game.
"They both functioned and did some very, very good things today," Andersen said. "And you didn't see the offense just fall apart, either, when Seth was in there or when Marcus was in there. I truly believe this; this football team is most comfortable with the ability of both of these quarterbacks to be able to play right now."
Overall, the offense was improved over recent outings, but not terribly so, and the defense re-asserted itself late. The deep game is having Villamin turn mid-range completion into foot races, and hopefully Bolden too. It's definitely going to be a dink and dunk down the field offense.
The offense only scored on 3 of 10 drives.
McMaryion completed 10 of 16 passes, but for only 67 yards, less yardage than Collins threw for in 2 completions (out of just 4 attempts), thanks to yards after the catch that improved his total to 75 yards. More on that in a moment.
"They both functioned and did some very, very good things today," Andersen said. "And you didn't see the offense just fall apart, either, when Seth was in there or Marcus was in there. I truly believe this; this football team is most comfortable with the ability for both of those quarterbacks to be able to play right now."
And while the defense, a bend but don't break bunch to be sure, hasn't been easily compromised, at least the 1s, so far, I'm not all that sure that that will be the case come the Washington St. and California games, and offenses that are likely to put up 500+ yards and 40-50 points on most teams.
Other than the quarterback competition, the big story of the day were the big receivers. Specifically, Jordan Villamin, who, who had multiple big catches, including above, and multiple catches that were followed by big runs after the catch. Villamin, who was hurt in the first week of summer camp, and missed last week's scrimmage, is fully healthy again, and clearly represents a mismatch in the secondary, with his size.
The other big receiver of note was Datron Guyton, below, who appeared to have played himself into the second string spot at WR.
Similarly sized to Villamin, he too constitutes a size mismatch for the average-sized secondary player. As a result, freshman Paul Lucas, who played well last week, was a spectator. A red-shirt season seems like a possibility for him, though the depth of the receiver group did take a couple of at least temporary hits today.
Not far into the day, Hunter Jarmon, who was the 3rd receiver in addition to Villamin and Victor Bolden with the 1s, left, and spent the rest of the day on 1 crutch, and with ice on his left knee.
Then, Rahmel Dockery went down and stayed down for several minutes. Concious throughout, it was his left hip and ribs that received attention from the trainers. But Dockery eventually popped up and jogged off the field, but the most strenuous thing he did the rest of the day was sign autographas.
Jarmon's injury saw Bolden shift to his spot, with Xavier Hawkins then the slot receiver.
The only players held out were those with injuries, and the only significant one in that category was guard Gavin Andrews. Though the boot he's had for sometime, including during the practice portion of the day, was gone during the Family Fun Day autograph session, by his own admission, its still unknown whether Andrews will be ready to go by the start of the season.
Isaac Seumalo saw his first scrimmage action in 20 months though, working at right guard, with Dustin Stanton at right tackle, and Josh Mitchell at center. Fred Lauina was back at left guard, after being nicked up earlier in camp, and Sean Harlow the left tackle of the starting unit. The one notable deviation was some red-zone series, where Harlow (not Seumalo) spelled Mitchell at center on the hot day, with Will Hopkins hopping in at left tackle.
Storm Woods got the #1 reps at running back, but Chris Brown, below, also seeing his first scrimmage action of the year, played at length with the 2s, and was on the field more snaps than Woods.
Defensively, Kyle Peko appears to have locked up the starting job in the middle of the line, with Lavonte Barnett and Titus Failauga flanking him. Jalen Grimble anchored the second d-line,
The inside linebackers appear to be set as Rommel Mageo and Caleb Saulo, with Jalen Grimble on the edge. Devin Chappell appears to have taken the other outside linebacker job.
With everyone in action, CB Dwayne Williams, injured 2 weeks ago, was back in action, but with the second unit, as it appears Treston Decoud has secured the corner opposite Larry Scott, though Decoud got an introduction to Pac-12 officiating, with a couple of disappointing, but not all that surprising flags flung his way that weren't warranted. So much for the conference's efforts to work on their officiation, at least so far.
Jalen Moore and Najii Patrick, who just received a scholarship yesterday, appear to be the leadng prospects for nickel back duty, based on being the best of the second unit, and depending on the situation at hand, whether it calls for a more physical defender (Moore), or more of a coverage back (Patrick).
Given that the quarterback spot will be a rotation for at least a while, with both prospects likely to provide serviceable play, and assuming that the wide receiver injuries aren't too significant (having nearly 2 weeks until game day instead of having to play next Saturday makes a big difference in this matter), it appears the squad is pretty well set, and without much question.
The biggest question mark I had was why Jaylyn Bailey is the #3 RB ahead of both Ryan Nall and Damien Haskins, and if that's the worst of it, then things are pretty settled.
Programming note for those attending games, the team has (mostly) learned (most of) the school song, and plans to sing it WITH THE FANS following games this year, starting a new tradition unveiled at the conclusion of practice today. It actually went pretty well, so plan to stick around at the end of games for a few minutes.
Which you might be doing anyway.
The Family Fun Day was popular, excellent in concept, and further strengthened the bond between the players and coaches (when was the last time you saw the coaches participating in the autograph session and talking to fans?). It also drew an audience larger than what turned out for the 2 previous open practices combined.
But in the first real test of event management with new Athletic Director Todd Stansbury in command, it did not go well. Today's turnout of a couple of thousand fans overwhelmed ops, as hundreds of fans were left standing locked out of the stadium for no apparent reason for nearly an hour, with the number growing to 4 figures for almost the second half hour before starting time. And it took about a half hour to clear the stands post-practice. Granted, most of the fans were waiting to get onto the field for the post-game Family Fun events and autographs, instead of heading for the back exits. But the number of fans looking to get on the field was still no where near the number that usually goes there post-game.
If a couple of thousand fans overwhelmed ops as bad as it did today, 20x times the crowd should be a real adventure. Especially since the opener was foolishly scheduled for right at rush hour on a week day, when Corvallis traffic is a mess on a good day, Beaver fans had better plan to arrive early and stand around for a long time, and still find themselves late.
It's a good thing the brand of football the Beavers will play should be exciting enough to make it worth it!
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)