Before talking about what we saw from today's Oregon State scrimmage, its important to understand what, or more importantly who, we did not see.
We knew that offensive tackle Sean Harlow, 4 weeks post a second surgery to try again to correct a broken leg and ankle suffered in last season's Colorado game that wasn't healing well, would be missing, halfway through a projected 8 weeks on a scooter.
But we also did not see fellow offensive linemen Gavin Andrews, Dustin Stanton, Drew Clarkson, Will Hopkins, and Leo Fuimaono, defensive backs Devin Chappell, Cyril Nolad-Lewis, Charles Okonkwo, and Gabe Ovgard, linebackers Ricky Liuchan and Titus Failauga, running backs Tim Cook, Ryan Nall, and Damien Haskins, tight ends Caleb Smith and Ricky Ortiz, and Wide Receivers Victor Bolden, Rahmel Dockery, Xavier Hawkins, and Tanner Walker.
Additionally, linebacker Shermar Smith left the game, and the field, after the first series, though he did appear ok post-game.
Jordan Villamin, back at full speed after missing the first half of spring ball, left with a bit of a limp after clipping heels with a defender in a broken route shortly before halftime, though it appeared that was just an abundance of caution on the part of the coaching staff.
Before leaving, Villamin established himself as a force, with a 43 yard touchdown catch on the first drive of the game from Darrell Gartetson, a sizable gain on the third series, which was the more or less first team offense's second possession, and then another touchdown catch in the corner of the endzone, above,
It should be noted, however, that all 3 came at the expense of Kendall Hill, and not the first string secondary, which for most of the game, generally shut down the offense, though they mostly faced the second string offense (which actually meant a lot of 3rd and 4th stringers), as Coach Gary Andersen most of the time sent what served as his first string offense against the defensive backups, and vice-versa.
This made it especially difficult for Marcus McMaryion and should still be in high school Mason Moran, though both did get a series with better offensive pieces.
Indeed, Oregon State's offense's next 3 best plays after Villamin's personal abuse of Hill were all cases of getting inside/slot receivers singled up on a linebacker, essentially capitalizing on blown coverages.
Still, Garretson, above, essentially ended any competition for the starting quarterback job. After struggling in last week's scrimmage at Hillsboro Stadium, where his most common throw was to throw the ball away, the red-shirt transfer junior completed 21 of 32 passes, for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns, including the game winner in a simulated 2 minute drive to conclude the scrimmage, and with no interceptions. Garretson also made more on-target tosses with touch than have been seen in any previous public performance.
Both McMaryion and Moran were below 50% completions in the first "half" (the second half was a 20 minutes semi-running clock scenario to keep the scrimmage to 2 hours for the Pac-12 Network, and as such was about equal to 1 quarter), and combined for only 57 passing yards between them.
Moran also tossed a tipped pick-6, which Dwayne Washington snagged, above, and took to the Mammoth bone yard.
Washington had a solid game, and with Treston DeCoud, Brandon Arnold, Omar Hicks-Onu, and Jaylynn Bailey, appear to be the strongest unit on the team.
With the #1, #2, & #3 running backs all out, Kyle White, who had an 8 yard touchdown run, got a lot of activity, and especially early on, Paul Lucas, above, running both the fly sweep and outside slants, did as well. It rarely worked though, and Andersen's target of a 60/40 run/pass split didn't come close to happening, as Oregon State ran the ball 38 times, including several quarterback bail outs, for only 87 yards, while throwing 53 passes.
After Villamin's early exit, for a while, Hunter Jarmon, above, became the go to guy, but the standout of the day was tight end Noah Togiai.
The 6'4", 240 lb. sophomore, above, who was originally a basketball prospect used both his size and leaping ability to good advantage on several occasions.
Another new face to watch is true freshman/should still be in high school Trevon Bradford from Oregon City. Bradford has turned heads in practice, and stood out last week in Hillsboro, and followed up with several good plays today, including the game winning touchdown catch.
Using a modified scoring system(*), the defense actually had the scoring lead on the offense when the last, clock management drive began.
Granted, the scoring pass, on a 4th down roll out by Garretson, and a scramble drill, never should have happened, as DeCoud had dropped what should have been the win-sealing interception on 3rd down. But on a day when practically every pass was to the primary/first receiver, which in a couple of cases, was the wrong one, Bradford's ability to keep himself viable crossing the back of the end zone, and then make a boundary catch, was the kind of play Oregon State, and Andersen, lacked last year.
(Yes, the Pac-12 official ruled this a touchdown catch; he got both feet down before the 3rd step, shown.)
Bradford also made a nifty move post-catch for extra yards while a defender tacked open space on green space.
With Dockery and Bolden both out, Bradford took all of the day's punts as well. And though they were all fair catch situations (gunners with no return blockers), Bradford didn't bobble any of them, including a number where he had to make the catch on the run and/or in heavy traffic.
Andersen will have a decision to make, as red-shirting Bradford, given Oregon State's depth at WR, would ordinarily make sense, but he may well be too good to keep off the field, aka Lucas last season, only better.
* Scoring System used for Oregon State scrimmage:
- Touchdown = 6 pts
- Field Goal = 3
- Conversions = 1-2 pts
- 20+ yard play = 3 pts
- Drive w/ three 1st downs = 1 pt
- Takeaway = 6 pts
- Missed Field Goal = 3 pts
- Conversions = 1-2 pts
- Three & Out = 3 pts
- Sack = 2 pts
- Defensive Touchdown = 12 pts
Despite the 2 touchdown drives in the first 3 possessions, and because of the pick-6 counting for 12 points before the conversion, the offense only led 21-19 after the first quarter.
The defense surged ahead 45-41 at halftime, before the touchdown with 12 seconds remaining allowed the offense to pull out a 54-51 win.
One red-shirt to expect is on Moran, who will doubtless travel and dress for every game, but will likely only see the field if Garretson suffers an injury that causes an extended absence or is season ending, and McMaryion also gets dinged up at some point. Moran has the best release of the three quarterbacks, and runs better as well, but struggled with his footwork against a disruptive pass rush, and the pick-6 was clearly a case of a 17 year old facing a Pac-12 secondary. He could use the time a red-shirt season will offer, particularly given that Garretson will clearly get the ball.
Defensively, Elu Audon had some good moments being the biggest body in the middle of the field, and one can also see why there is so much excitement for Philliip Napoleon, if he can find consistency playing at the Pac-12 level.
Beyond that, the extensive absentee list, and the total mishmash of position groups and schemes that resulted, makes drawing many conclusions, especially positive ones, almost impossible, though the number of missing bodies most members of Beaver Nation will recognize the names of certainly conjures up scary thoughts of 57 person traveling squads again.
Oregon State will conduct 3 more spring practices this coming week, then revert to weight training and group sessions until summer camp comes around.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)