07.Apr.2012 SilverStream’s First Spring Report
I was able to attend the spring practice session at Reser today. It went for a full 3 hours (11 am to 2 pm) and there was about 30 minutes of 11-on-11 with hitting (although not full tackling).
The biggest news — for me — was Rod Perry. Frankly, I didn't expect much from Perry. But after spending about 30 minutes watching Rod Perry up close, I came away with a different view.
Perry ran the defensive backs through a bunch of drills (including some drills I don't remember seeing last year). During the drills, Perry was watching the players closely, and giving them individual advice and tips. He would also, every few minutes, stop the drills to give the whole group a pointer or two. This continued during the 11-on-11 drills. Perry stayed engaged throughout, and coached up his def backs at pretty much every opportunity. Based on what I saw today, I believe Perry has the players' respect, as well as their attention, and that he has a lot to offer. If Perry keeps this up, I expect OSU's defensive backfield will play significantly better this coming season.
In the 11-on-11 drills (towards the end of practice), Mike Riley stood near the sidelines, and about 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. When a player made a dumb mistake, MR would yell out the player’s name to get his attention, use hand gestures to call the player over for a short 1-on-1 conversation, and then talk with the player for 30 seconds about the mistake, after which Riley would send the player back to the drill area. Riley did this with Kellen Clute (after KC jumped the count), with Sean Mannion (after Mannion misread a coverage), and with one or two other players. Riley also got on Justin Addie’s case — throwing in a couple of loud “goshdarnits” for emphasis — when Addie bungled a blocking assignment. It all seemed designed by Riley to make the point that there will be much less tolerance this year for mental mistakes. Or maybe it’s just that Riley is finally feeling pressure and has become less patient with such dumb mistakes. Whatever the reason, Riley didn’t do much of this last season, to the best of my recollection.
On the other hand, I don’t recall Riley getting on Jake Welch at all, even though Jake Welch botched several snaps, failing to get the ball into the QB’s hands under center, leading to broken plays or fumbles. Jake Welch is listed at 322 lbs and looks massive — but still a work in progress at center.
Speaking of massive players, Castro Masaniai is still recovering from a leg injury and is not yet practicing with the team, but he was at practice today. In the middle of practice, Castro put on running shoes, and walked up and down the steps on the west side of Reser Stadium several times. Castro walked right by me once, and I got a good look at him. Castro is listed at 351 lbs, but he didn’t look fat — just very broad. He didn’t seem to be in pain, and he wasn’t huffing and puffing as much as I would have expected for such a huge guy going up and down the steps at Reser. I smiled as he went by, and said to him “Get healthy, the Beavers really need you — you are going to be one of the key guys this year”. Castro smiled, nodded, and gave me a high-five. I know — this is meaningless — but what the heck…
Near the beginning of practice, I watched the four QBs (Mannion, Vaz, Lomax, and Harrington) doing footwork drills together. For example, all four QBs would line up on the goal line, wait for the coach’s signal, and then execute a specified type of dropback. Seemed to me that Mannion’s footwork was faster and more precise than the footwork of the other three QBs. Mannion usually finished his dropback a split-second before the others. I think Mannion’s footwork has improved during the off-season.
Towards the end of practice, Mannion threw a couple of balls badly, and misread the defense several times, leading to throws that could/should have been intercepted (Naji Patrick, a redshirt freshman CB, dropped one that was right in his hands, on a sideline “out” pattern where Mannion never should have thrown the ball). But this was near the end of a long practice, where Mannion had thrown a LOT of passes (most of them accurate), and was visibly tiring. Still….
Cody Vaz has improved his throwing since last season. He is throwing the ball more smoothly, more accurately, with more power, and with a tighter spiral. He seems to be the clear #2 behind Mannion. Richie Harrington has potential, but I don’t think he’s ready to challenge Vaz for #2 quite yet.
Brandin Cooks was talking smack to the defensive backs, especially towards the end of practice, during the 11-on-11 drills. A couple of defensive backs tried and failed to rip the ball out of Cooks’ hands after Cooks had caught the ball and turned up field. Jogging back to the huddle after the play, Cooks turned to the DB’s and said (more than once) that there was “no way” they were getting the ball out of his hands. Stuff like that. Cooks was competitive in other drills during today’s practice, trying to stand out. Cooks seems ready and eager to assume a bigger role in the Beavers’ offense this season.
I watched new LB Cade Cowdin (transfer from College of the Desert, St. George, Utah) for a few plays. Didn’t seem like anything special, but almost surely too small a sample on which to judge. I’ll try to watch Cowdin more closely next time….
We need stuff like this to get our juices flowing again. It seems nobody's too excited about camp this year. Why is that? Because we just figure it's more of the same ol'?