CORVALLIS -- After months of waiting to hear the name of who will officially claim the No.1 tailback…
OSU DAY 16: Lots to talk about
A very positive practice overall, coupled with strong play in the clutch form both the offense and defense. For more on Storm Woods and the running back roles that Mike Riley defined today, click here. That wasn't the only personnel news of the day – former Thurston High graduate/dual-sport athlete Tym Pearson, a junior at OSU, joined the wide out ranks today for the first time, wearing No. 39. Pearson will have to go through the acclimation process before contact drills are allowed but he ran a few routes alongside his fellow receivers and looked pretty solid doing it. Riley and crew have mentioned that they are talented but thin at the position and the addition of Pearson is a positive maneuver for the team in the latter stages of camp. Injury Report Day 16: Redshirt junior defensive linemen Blake Harrah and Desmond Collins (redshirt freshman) both remained sidelined today – Harrah with a cast on his left arm and Collins with a brace on the lower half of his right leg. It is currently up in the air as to when they will make a full return. Colby Prince left practice early yesterday complaining of some pain in his left arm. It turns out that Prince has a separated shoulder, but it is not as serious as it sounds and Prince is supposed to make a recovery/return early next week. Obum Gwacham did not participate today – he too is expected to return within the next few days – "I told him (Gwacham) not to return until he was fully healthy, so I don't know what that means. Maybe March?" Riley joked. Gwacham has a foot injury and is simply taking caution not to further aggravate the injury. Micah Hatfield also remained out. Both Ryan Handford and Kyle Gardner left practice at separate intervals for small time bumps and bruises, the result of some physical play in the red zone from both sides of the a ball. Both returned to the field after sitting out a few plays – Handford even managed to pick off a pass from Vaz on one of his first plays back. Position Notes/ Tweaks The last two practices have seen the solidification of many player positions/roles on the roster. That is not to say that there isn't a little wiggle room here and there. For the most part (similar to yesterday), the 1's were the 1's and the 2's the 2's. With Riley's announcement, it became clear that Woods will be getting the remainder, or at least the vast majority, of the handoffs with the 1's as camp progresses. That being the case, it is official that both Ward and Agnew will share time with the 2's, with Agnew the primary runner up in that particular race. With Prince out, Connor Hamlett has been seeing his share of work with the 1's, coming of the H-Back slot to help hold down the line and make some catches. Filling Hamlett's spot for the last two days has been Caleb Smith, who has looked rather impressive despite recently coming off the injured list with concussion symptoms. Richard Mullaney and Kevin Cummings continue to divvy up the amount of looks in the slot that were going previously to the injured Gwacham. Rueben Robinson saw some time as the weakside linebacker on the 2's today while freshman Joel Skotte held down the MIK slot with the 2's. Practice Notes Day 16: Offense: Quarterback: Sean Mannion tried to rocket a throw to Blair Cavanaugh and missed him short - the amount of power Mannion tried to put on the throw really deprived him of some of his control over the pass. This slight inconsistency has also become apparent in the red zone – twice today Mannion threw heaters to open receivers in the end zone and threw the ball so hard that Stick-Em could not have kept that ball in the receiver's hands. Mannion does not struggle with throwing the deep ball, but he also doesn't throw a very strong one. But Mannion does display solid arm strength (and accuracy) in his short game, but sometimes the power he puts behind some of those shorter throws can be detrimental. Tailback: Woods saw the bulk of the carries on the 1's today, and made some concrete receptions in the short passing game, something he had struggled with earlier in fall camp. Agnew and Wards had really solid days on the 2's. To their credit, both Agnew and Ward are more effective at breaking tackles and pushing through those big defenders on the line than Woods is (at this point). Both keep their legs moving until they are on the ground, and while they may not be as agile as Woods on any given day, they have proven themselves to be reliable options when needed. Agnew has some difficulty reeling in passes from time to time, and such was the case this afternoon. Riley mentioned that Woods' slightly more capable receiving hands factored into him being named the No.1 today. Woods has shown throughout camp that he is adept at avoiding defenders, and had a couple good runs down inside the offense's own 10-yard line that aided in getting out of trouble and progressing downfield steadily. Fullback: Clayton York saw a good portion of the playing time with the 1's in front of Woods today – York made a few nice receptions and opened up some big gainers to the outside for Woods, Agnew, and Ward alike. One of York's receptions was in the end zone and he managed to hold onto the ball despite Tyrequek Zimmerman trying to rip it away from him. Tight End: Connor Hamlett made some nice catches today from both Mannion and Cody Vaz – one of them was a cool sideline grab that left Hamlett dragging his feet to stay in bounds. Hamlett has stood out in fall camp. He is a big-body tight end who is a skilled blocker (something that frankly, the Beavs desperately need at the No.1 slot and Prince just has not provided it) who knows how to catch the ball in traffic. He is not very fast off the line, but he gets open in coverage and appears to have a pretty wide catching radius. Wide Receiver: Red zone drills were the name of the game again today, and while the cornerback squad put up some fight, the wideouts just seemed to get the upper hand on most occasions. Malik Gilmore and Brandin Cooks both shined in jump-ball situations toward the corner of the end zone - Markus Wheaton and Cavanaugh both had some success luck catching some of Mannion/Vaz's more powerful throws in the red zone. Richard Mullaney has a less productive day in the red zone than he usually does, dropping two passes. Offensive Line: The group held their own today, even against a five lineman rush they experienced down near the end zone. Grant Enger and Josh Andrews looked really good, aiding Isaac Seumalo in setting strong pancake blocks both in 11-on-11 drills and various line maneuvers. Freshman lineman Grant Bays also impressed today, stuffing freshman defensive tackle Noke Tago and redshirt freshman Na'Alii Robins up the middle. Michael Philipp demonstrated quick feet when blocking outside linebacker Michael Doctor from coming around his left side. Philipp is adept in his transitional blocking – in other words, he can knock down a defensive end and move on to a blitzing ‘backer with relative ease. Defense: Defensive Line: Dylan Wynn and Scott Crichton showed a good command of their technique today and demonstrated perseverance despite moving up against an offensive line that did a good job of holding their own against almost every blitz package thrown at them. Wynn has been learning how to use his size (or relative lack thereof) to his advantage when it comes to maneuvering g the line. He is shorter and is physically smaller (more compact) than the average lineman who will block him off the edge and uses that to slip right past guys and get into the back field. Linebackers: The doctor was in today – Michael Doctor that is. Throughout camp we have mentioned that the ‘backer corps on the 1's looked sloppy when it came to providing efficient pass defense in the short game but Doctor today had two tipped passes and a near interception – all three of which occurred within the 20 yard line. Feti Unga (or Taumoepeau) continues to improve his run defense and is starting to act more and more like a leader on defense -- tenacious and vocal. Secondary: Sean Martin, Brian Watkins and Ryan Handford all had top notch afternoons. Martin picked off a pass from Vaz and blocked two passes during red zone drills going up against Wheaton and Mullaney. Handford also had an interception shortly after getting the wind knocked out of him and taking a breather on the sidelines. Handford returned the interception for a touchdown and was met by cheers from his fellow teammates. Both Martin and Handford were aggressive and smart in defending the pass today. Brian Watkins hasn't exactly popped this fall camp but he is consistently on top of the ball and does not give an opposing receiver much breathing room at all when he runs man coverage. Anthony Watkins continues to play on the 2's as he works his way back from injury. Riley said the coaching/training staff is trying to ease him in to full contact and not just throw him in the thick of it and risk further aggravation of his ongoing hip-flexor injury. In his stead, Zimmerman continues to play well and displayed good closing speed in the pass game and a strong awareness of blocking assignments in the run -- and how to avoid them and bring the ball carrier down before any substantial yardage gain. Depth Chart Day 16: OFFENSE Quarterback: Sean Mannion Tailback: Storm Woods Fullback: Clayton York Tight End: Connor Hamlett/Caleb Smith Wide Receiver: Markus Wheaton (X), Brandin Cooks (Z), Richard Mullaney/Kevin Cummings (Slot) Offensive Line: OT- Michael Philipp OG - Josh Andrews C - Isaac Seumalo OG- Grant Enger OT – Colin Kelly/Gavin Andrews DEFENSE Defensive Line: DE – Dylan Wynn, DT – Castro Masaniai, DT – Andrew Seumalo/Joe Lopez, DE Scott Crichton Linebackers (OLB): Michael Doctor (Weak), D.J. Welch (Strong) ILB: Feti Unga (or Taumoepeau) Cornerbacks: Jordan Poyer, Rashaad Reynolds Safeties: Tyrequek Zimmerman (Free), Ryan Murphy (Strong)
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