PRACTICE: Slot WR named; which FR will play

KEVIN CUMMINGS

CORVALLIS -- Preparation for the first home game against Nicholls State is officially in full swing for the OSU Beavers. Monday's practice saw the beginning of real-time game simulations for the offense and defense. Mike Riley provided a list of true freshmen who will play and not redshirt this year, plus a nugget on who has claimed the starting slot receiver job and more.

The injured list continued to shrink on Monday, and players continued to fight for their roles.

In perhaps the Willamette Valley's worst kept secret – Mike Riley will indeed be calling the plays for the Beaver offense this year. While it was pretty clear from fall camp that this would in fact be the case, it is now official.

"I just missed it," Riley said when asked why he has taken the reigns in terms of calling the offensive approach for 2012. "I just liked the involvement – Danny (Langsdorf) has done a great job for a long time. I just missed the involvement, and that's all there is to it."

WHILE PLAYER ROLES continue to be defined, the fog has been cleared on which true freshmen will play this season.

"Right now, Caleb Smith is not going to (redshirt) and of course Isaac (Seumalo) is not going to," Riley said. "Joel Skotte, Josh Mitchell and Gavin Andrews aren't going to (redshirt), and that is it. The rest of them are redshirting."

RILEY ALSO SAID Kevin Cummings will start at slot receiver – more details in the Position Nuggets/Tweaks section.

THERE HAS BEEN some growing chatter that Saturday's game vs. Nicholls State may be affected by Tropical Storm Isaac.

As of 5:45 p.m., however, OSU issued a statement that there have been no discussions of cancelling the game. Nicholls State is scheduled to fly from New Orleans to OSU on Friday morning.

The Daily Comet looks to have published this story, however, 15 minutes later:
Click here.

AND HOW CONFIDENT is Riley about facing Nicholls State on September 1, given that last year his band of Beavs lost in a similar scenario to a FCS (formerly Division II) team in Sacramento State? Nicholls State's defense has been known to operate out of the 3-4 fronts, something that the OSU offense might be a little shaky at accounting for.

"The one good thing for us this year is our defense is playing a little 3-4," Riley said. "So when you are talking about protections (against Nicholls State) and all that, we've already been through it during camp."

Riley said there will be times when his defense needs to make the switch in-game in order to compensate for more unique offensive packages.

"As the spread offense is growing, so are the 3-4 defenses," Riley said. "It also has to do with the versatility of our athletes – we've got some athletes that need to be on the field, and we are pretty deep at the safety position, so it gives us the chance to play a couple more guys. (We will use the 3-4) as a substitute defense, it's not going to be a first down defense for us."

Injury Report: Game Week Day 1

Colby Prince was back in full pads and running with the 1's for about 30 minutes today. Prince removed his pads early and proceeded to get his left arm taped up, sitting out for the rest of the session. Prince suffered a separated shoulder last week, and it remains unclear as to whether or not he will make a full return to the ranks by Saturday.

"I don't know, I just don't know (about Prince)," Riley said, shaking his head. "He has got to practice pretty quick here otherwise I wouldn't expect him to play."

Today was the first day back in pads for Obum Gwacham in some time -- he sat out most of last week with a foot injury.

"We will see how Gwacham responded (today) – if he is not good tomorrow then he probably won't play." Riley said.

Mishawn Cummings returned to the practice squad today, and saw a little work with the 2's and 3's.

Anthony Watkins was out again today, and it appears at present he has missed too much time to be ready for Nicholls State. Kendall Hill, Chase Eldredge, Blake Harrah and Desmond Collins are on the injury list for the foreseeable future.

Position Nuggets/Tweaks:

There had been an ongoing battle for the slot wideout position throughout fall camp – it started off between the sophomore Obum Gwacham and the junior Kevin Cummings. But a party of two can only be so much fun, and the battle eventually grew to include Richard Mullaney, the stand out redshirt freshman on task to make an impact this year.

Today, Riley hit us with a little wisdom on that position battle – "Well, of course, Cooks and Wheaton will start," Riley said. "And Kevin Cummings will start at the slot."

With fall camp in the books and game prep now the focus, few position changes are expected to occur from this time forward. For the most part, the 1's and 2's have been clear as per last week's practices, with a little wiggle room here and there.

In lieu of the position coverage we have offered in this section throughout the fall camp, we offer BF.C's unofficial projected depth chart of the 1's and 2's based on our observations. The following are generally just two deeps – three deeps where necessary.

NOTE: OSU is expected to issue the official game week depth chart either tonight or Tuesday.

BF.C Depth Chart: The 1's
OFFENSE –
Quarterback: Sean Mannion
Tailback: Storm Woods
Fullback: Clayton York/Tyler Anderson
Tight End: Colby Prince/Connor Hamlett
Wide Receiver: Markus Wheaton (X), Brandin Cooks (Z), Kevin Cummings (Slot)
Offensive Line: OT- Michael Philipp OG - Josh Andrews C - Isaac Seumalo OG- Grant Enger OT – Colin Kelly

DEFENSE -
Defensive Line: DE – Dylan Wynn, DT – Castro Masaniai, DT – Andrew Seumalo, 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)


BF.C Depth Chart: The 2's

OFFENSE:
Quarterback: Cody Vaz
Tailback: Malcolm Agnew/Terron Ward
Fullback: Tyler Anderson/Clayton York
Tight End: Caleb Smith/Tyler Perry
Wide Receiver: Kevin Cummings (X), Obum Gwacham (Z), Richard Mullaney/Micah Hatfield
Offensive Line: OT - Derek Nielsen, OG – Justin Addie /Josh Mitchell, C – Roman Sapolu OG – Gavin Andrews. OT – Nolan Hansen

DEFENSE:
Defensive Line: DE - Rudolf Fifita, DT - Joe Lopez, DT - Mana Rosa, DE – Devon Kell/ John Braun
Linebackers (OLB): Shaydon Akuna/Rueben Robinson (Weak), Jabral Johnson (Strong)
ILB: Rueben Robinson/Joel Skotte
Cornerbacks: Sean Martin, Brian Watkins/Ryan Handford
Safeties: Peter Ashton/Anthony Watkins* (Free), Steven Christian/Chris Miller (Strong)
* - Watkins, who was a starter before his hip flexor sidelined him, has an unknown return date.


PRACTICE NOTES:
Today the offense and defense ran plays a little differently than they had been – but what you would expect in a game week practice. The 1's and 2's on defense saw most of their 11-on-11 time against the 3's/scout team offense, with Richie Harrington and Brent Vanderveen at the helm. Likewise, the 1's and 2's on offense spent their time challenging the 3's/scout team on defense. In short, it was an attempted simulation of what OSU is expecting to see form Nicholls State. Offense:

Quarterbacks: Mannion had a great day today – his throws were generally on target and he found Wheaton wide open on numerous occasions. Cody Vaz struggled with his accuracy today, overthrowing a number of targets including Mullaney and Hamlett, two of the taller guys on the field. Vaz had a rough go of things when he took to the run as well.

Tailback: Woods and Agnew had a solid day on the ground, and both Ward and Jenkins outclassed in certain other areas. Both Woods and Agnew found holes with ease, especially when they were up against the 3's. Both had rushes that may have easily gone for six had it been allowed to continue.

Tight End: Smith struggled holding his blocks today, even against the 3's. He seemed to sell himself short on quite a few blocks, and while either Hamlett or Kelly were generally there to pick up the missed assignment, it was not the type of play one wants to see form a freshman likely to play as soon as Saturday. On the other hand, both Smith and Hamlett ran some smooth out routes this afternoon.

Wide Receivers: Wheaton and Cooks both performed well, getting open frequently – Wheaton has been very proficient in making plays on deep throws and it was evidenced today as he beat the defense on three separate occasions for gains that in any other situation would have put points on the board. Cummings and Mullaney also played well with the 2's, but Vaz's relative inaccuracy today hindered their attempts at moving up the field.

Gwacham returned to the field today and looked a little rusty. His release off the line was a hair slower than we are used to seeing, and he ran less efficient routes than normal. He is a good, promising player, no question – but he has proven to be rather inconsistent. In fact, Gwacham is starting to look like one of those "clutch" players who may struggle with certain fundamentals here and there, but can really make a play when the team needs it most. But the guy is coming off an injury that had him out for nearly a week – and some rust is to be expected.

Defense
Defensive Line:
The unit played well against the 2's and 3's on defense, but struggled at getting into the backfield. They saw the same play (one expected to be run by Nicholls State) from the 3's at least six times, and each time gave up at least five yards on the play. Wynn and Crichton managed to stuff some runs, but showed signs of frustration when battling the opposing offensive line. Rosa, Lopez, and Aluesi all had solid days backing up the 1's, and were seen on the field in some substitution packages for the starters.

Linebackers: A lot of improvement thus far from Skotte, Unga (or Taumoepeau) and Doctor. All three have executed their run pick-ups and short pass coverage with skill and have displayed considerable talent in disrupting certain pass plays, a focal point for Trent Bray and his platoon as the OSU defense struggled in that area last season.

Robinson continues to be a versatile option at both the OLB/ILB slots. He moves well, and reacts to the ball instantly; hesitating only to make sure the play is not a fake, then attacking the ball carrier. He is quick enough to disrupt the pass game on the weak side, but strong enough and smart enough to hold off the run through the middle.

Secondary: Naji Patrick had a pick against Vaz today, and returned it for a "touchdown". The pick came when Vaz was surrounded by defenders almost instantly – Vaz lofted up a duck and it was picked by Patrick.

Peter Ashton had another good day. He showed skill in stopping the run and being aggressive to the ball/getting around blockers in the open field. Likewise, he shined when defending the pass, playing any would-be receiver tightly.

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