14.Apr.2012 Silver’s Spring Report (#2)

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I spent much of today's practice focusing on the offensive line.

For the first 30 minutes, I watched Kyle DeVan coach up the offensive linemen.   DeVan was working on the "punch" technique with one lineman at a time, as well as talking with the group about blocking angles. (At one point, DeVan called over loudly to another assistant, and joked "has anyone taught these guys any geometry?")   During breaks, DeVan was also telling the linemen NFL war stories (one of them started with, "You think Coach Cav is bad?").

In some ways, watching DeVan coach the o-line reminded me of watching Rod Perry coach the defensive backs during last Saturday's practice.  The offensive linemen were clearly  treating DeVan — a former starting guard with the Indianapolis Colts — with respect, and listening closely to what he was saying.  Of course, unlike Rod Perry, DeVan is only in his late 20's, and graduated from OSU just a few years ago.   DeVan seems to relate well to the guys, and to have a good sense of humor and a light touch — a welcome counterpoint to Coach Cav's screaming (which really can get old).  I think DeVan is going to add value this year and is going to help make OSU's offensive line better.  I think DeVan will be especially effective with the talented group of o-line recruits that arrive this Fall.

At this morning's practice, Isaac Seumalo (wearing sweats) was one of the guys listening closely to Kyle DeVan.   Seumalo was not participating in practice — he was just an observer.  But he seemed to be taking it seriously.  When the offensive line broke up into two groups, one with Coach Cav, and the other with Kyle DeVan, Isaac chose to go with DeVan's group (perhaps because Isaac has already heard a lot from Cav, and was interested to hear whether Kyle DeVan had something new/different to say — although that's pure speculation on my part).   Isaac attended the whole, long Saturday practice, hanging out with the offensive linemen and the coaches, and soaking up information.

I spent a fair amount of time today watching the two centers, Roman Sapolu and Jake Welch.  I think each of them has talent.  Jake Welch is about 30-40 pounds heavier than Sapolu — Welch has a broader frame, and looks stronger than Sapolu.  During one-on-one blocking drills, Welch had some impressive moments, where he overwhelmed his opponents with his size  and strength.  However, Sapolu had some good moments, too.  Sapolu does it with technique and determination rather than sheer size and strength, but looks like Sapolu can be effective, especially as a pass blocker.

Trevor Romaine has improved since last season. He hit every kick solidly today (and I think he made them all, although I’m not 100% sure because I didn’t have a great viewing angle). TR also looks more confident out there. I think he’s going to have a good season for OSU.

Rod Perry seems to have Jordan Poyer be the lead off guy in each drill. Perry has Poyer set the example for how to do each drill, praises Poyer’s technique, and then has the other guys follow Poyer’s lead. Speculation on my part, but I suspect Perry is doing this intentionally, to establish Poyer as the official leader of the group (both to get the most out of Poyer, and also to inspire the other guys to rise to Poyer’s level).

Coach Perry is spending quite a bit of time with the cornerbacks working on techniques for stripping balls from receivers, and for blocking balls before they reach receivers. During the scrimmages today, the CBs were using these techniques to good effect. Coach Perry also spent a fair amount of time coaching up the CB’s on proper tackling technique. I continue to be cautiously optimistic that we really are going to see improved play from the defensive backs this coming season as a result of Perry’s coaching.

I already mentioned the one-on-one blocking drills where Riley participated. Here are some more details from that drill. The first point to emphasize — again — is the super-competitive nature of this drill. This was man-vs-man blocking, with all the players and coaches (including head coach Mike Riley) in a tight circle, watching. The guys were going at it hard, as you’d expect. During this whole drill, Isaac Seumalo was standing close to Riley, while Riley (and Cav) ran the drill. Cav spent much of the drill yelling at various offensive linemen to “get your f…ing elbows in” while blocking.

In this drill, Mike Philipp generally looked good, and won most of his matchups. However, when MP went up against Dylan Wynn, DW got under MP’s pad and drove MP backwards. (Note: in this and other drills, DW continues to impress. DW seems stronger than last year, and just as quick, if not quicker. If he stays healthy, DW should be a force this coming season — even more so than last season.) Jake Welch was perhaps the most effective blocker in these one-on-one drills — Welch just seemed to overpower most of his opponents. Welch is only a RS Freshman — seems he has a big upside.

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  • oneoldbeav says:
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    Thanks again, Silver. I’ll be watching for more; anything to note about Riley’s demeanor today?

    • silverstream055 silverstream055 says:
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      Here are two things that stood out to me today at practice involving Mike Riley.

      #1: At today’s practice, there were a couple of short pseudo-scrimmages, with eight officials present to call penalties and make the whole thing seem more real). During the scrimmages, Riley stood on the sideline and called plays. Riley did this by communicating with two assistants, each of whom then gave identical hand/body signals to players/coaches across the field. This may (or may not) be the play-calling system we see this Fall — seemed like something that Riley was trying out today.

      #2: Earlier at today’s practice, Riley got actively involved in a competitive blocking drill, with one o-lineman at a time going up against one d-lineman at a time, and with all the other linemen and coaches standing around watching, and rooting on their guy. Riley (or someone next to him) said “go” to start each individual competition. Riley also made it clear — to everyone — that he was watching each of the guys go at it. I haven’t seen Riley get this involved before with linemen drills. Riley usually spends most of his time and attention elsewhere (e.g., with the QBs and receivers, or watching shell drills, etc.).

      Overall impression remains as previously reported — MR seems a bit more actively involved this season, and a bit more critical and demanding of OSU’s players than he was last year. Not radically different — but at least somewhat more hard-nosed than last season.

  • rsteve503 rsteve503 says:
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    Thanks SS ….it sounds like the coaching is getting better. Thats a good sign, at least.

    …yeah, how is Riley? LIfe signs stable, at least?

  • waggle says:
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    SS- Thanks for the updates! Any thoughts on Phillips?

  • silverstream055 silverstream055 says:
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    Other observations from today’s practice:

    Trevor Romaine has improved since last season. He hit every kick solidly today (and I think he made them all, although I’m not 100% sure because I didn’t have a great viewing angle). TR also looks more confident out there. I think he’s going to have a good season for OSU.

    Rod Perry seems to have Jordan Poyer be the lead off guy in each drill. Perry has Poyer set the example for how to do each drill, praises Poyer’s technique, and then has the other guys follow Poyer’s lead. Speculation on my part, but I suspect Perry is doing this intentionally, to establish Poyer as the official leader of the group (both to get the most out of Poyer, and also to inspire the other guys to rise to Poyer’s level).

    Coach Perry is spending quite a bit of time with the cornerbacks working on techniques for stripping balls from receivers, and for blocking balls before they reach receivers. During the scrimmages today, the CBs were using these techniques to good effect. Coach Perry also spent a fair amount of time coaching up the CB’s on proper tackling technique. I continue to be cautiously optimistic that we really are going to see improved play from the defensive backs this coming season as a result of Perry’s coaching.

    I already mentioned the one-on-one blocking drills where Riley participated. Here are some more details from that drill. The first point to emphasize — again — is the super-competitive nature of this drill. This was man-vs-man blocking, with all the players and coaches (including head coach Mike Riley) in a tight circle, watching. The guys were going at it hard, as you’d expect. During this whole drill, Isaac Seumalo was standing close to Riley, while Riley (and Cav) ran the drill. Cav spent much of the drill yelling at various offensive linemen to “get your f…ing elbows in” while blocking.

    In this drill, Mike Philipp generally looked good, and won most of his matchups. However, when MP went up against Dylan Wynn, DW got under MP’s pad and drove MP backwards. (Note: in this and other drills, DW continues to impress. DW seems stronger than last year, and just as quick, if not quicker. If he stays healthy, DW should be a force this coming season — even more so than last season.) Jake Welch was perhaps the most effective blocker in these one-on-one drills — Welch just seemed to overpower most of his opponents. Welch is only a RS Freshman — seems he has a big upside.

    More later, when I get a few additional minutes….

    • Bill says:
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      The drill is called the Oklahoma drill. Riley mentioned earlier this year he was going to use it more.

  • Mud&Sticks Mud&Sticks says:
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    Thanks SS. Since the DL did interact with the OL, any thoughts on them?

    For example: are they (DL) undersized as we’ve been led to believe?

    • silverstream055 silverstream055 says:
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      Yes, in today’s one-on-one blocking drills, our d-linemen often seemed undersized and overmatched against the bigger o-linemen such as Mike Philipp and Jake Welch. Dylan Wynn made up for it with ferocity and explosiveness, despite giving away 60 pounds to Mike Philipp. Most of the other d-linemen were less successful, and usually ended up getting tied up and pushed back by Philipp and Welch (and also, sometimes, by Justin Addie and David Vieru, who are each over 320 pounds themselves).

      With the talented incoming o-line recruits, plus the guys mentioned above, OSU promises to be significantly better this season on the offensive line. If Dylan Wynn and Scott Crichton stay healthy, OSU should be solid at DE, too. The gaping hole remains at DT, where OSU remains seriously undersized (other than Castro Masaniai — who has had problems staying on the field for more than a few games at a time). The lack of size at DT was obvious in today’s one-on-one blocking drills. But of course that’s not news to anyone, and unfortunately Stephen Paea is not walking through that door….

  • rsteve503 rsteve503 says:
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    Thanks SS. Good observations on Riley…..him getting serious is a really good sign.

    But I cant help wonder, where has that been in recent years? If you love the game and the school you work for, how can you become passive and apparently uncaring.

    • oneoldbeav says:
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      Many observers “can’t help wonder…”. There was some speculation last season about family issues or health concerns being a distraction for MR. Right now I am not so concerned about where his head has been the last few years; just what is he gonna be like this year.

      • rsteve503 rsteve503 says:
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        Well, since I came down on Riley with many words, and since he seems to have reversed at least some of the apathy I saw last year, I would like to cut him a little slack if there is some reason besides getting a long term contract.

        And I agree…now is whats important. I guess we’ll see…

  • angry angry says:
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    What happened to Devan’s NFL career? I thought he was doing pretty well with the Colts…

    • waggle says:
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      I was wondering the same thing.

      • Beavergopher Beavergopher says:
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        Got cut by the Eagles last year. Had a brutal game that was spotlighted on one of the recap shows.

        • angry angry says:
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          So one bad game and they cut him? Wasn’t he pretty solid up until then?

          • BeavMonkey says:
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            A lot of those guys have injury issues, and if that is the case, he may be better off trying to start a coaching career young rather than trying to progress in a position that may not lead to a long term contract which will leave him physically chewed up and spit out.

          • Beavergopher Beavergopher says:
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            It was a really bad game. Blocking the wrong guys and giving blitzers a free run at the QB.
            Kind of like our O line the last couple of years LOL! Perhaps he watched too much OSU game tape.

    • Mud&Sticks Mud&Sticks says:
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      http://www.eaglesgab.com/2011/09/04/philadelphia-eagles-sign-ex-colt-kyle-devan-bolster-offensive-line/
      This Saturday the Philadelphia Eagles signed right guard Kyle DeVan, after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts. DeVan is a five-year NFL veteran, and is a one-time Super Bowl Champion during his stay with the Colts. To acquire DeVan the Eagles were forced to cut defensive tackle Cedric Thorton.

      ————-
      http://articles.philly.com/2011-09-05/sports/30115648_1_wide-receiver-chad-hall-training-camp-dallas-reynolds

      Eagles sign former Colts offensive guard Kyle DeVan
      September 05, 2011

      The Eagles added some offensive line depth Sunday, and perhaps a competitor to first-round pick Danny Watkins, signing guard Kyle DeVan, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts.

      DeVan, 6-foot-2, 306 pounds, started nine games in 2009 under current Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd. He started 12 in 2010 but was released in the Colts’ final cut down last weekend.

      DeVan, 26, could challenge Watkins for the right guard job. Watkins has struggled in the preseason while DeVan is already familiar with Mudd’s ways.

      He will add experience to an offensive line that had three rookies among its nine members before he signed.

      ——————————–
      Eagles waived OG Kyle DeVan. http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/5302/kyle-devan

      DeVan opened the season as the Eagles’ starting right guard, but it was only a matter of time until he lost the position to first-round pick Danny Watkins. An undersized and underwhelming talent, DeVan figures to stay on Philly’s speed dial as a free agent. The injury-bothered Colts could also give him a look. Sun, Nov 6, 2011 10:20:00 AM

  • BeavMonkey says:
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    Speaking of Vieru, how is he doing?

    Do you guys think that he can make it into the rotation?

    Does he have a shot at a starting job? even a slim one?

  • ObjCritic says:
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    Thanks for the great reports SS.

    One minor note, I notice the term “coach up” bleed into the dictionary of sports cliches. Does anyone “coach down?” Isn’t the point of coaching to improve performance? Hold all the Banker et al wisecracks, I just means “coach” is the only term that is needed. “Coach up” seems to becoming like “deal,” though it obviously has wide use beyond Riley’s sphere of influence.

    On the coaching observations, I agree there are encouraging developments this year like Perry and DeVan. My concern is that having position coaches improve individual technique are tweeks more than what OSU needs; two coordinators, or one head coach, who are (is) effectively strategic, game managers, creative, and motivational.

    These guys may prove me wrong by 2014 (when Mannion and the Oline are mature, and maybe a couple of legitmate DT’s are found), but I may not be watching then.

    • Jack says:
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      Does anyone “coach down?”… heh heh… excellent!

      The point about the position coaches should include the attention to detail they all provide. That has been missing for the past couple years for whatever reason.

      It’s sounding and looking like Rod Perry is one helluva coach who is getting the boys ready for one helluva year. And good for Devan and Bray for being the personable counter to the bludgeoning styles of Cav and Banker.

      You know… we haven’t really heard Banker’s name called this spring. It’s the Mike Riley show right now. In fact, Danny hasn’t been mentioned except to note that MR has taken play-caling duty. I think this is all good stuff.

    • silverstream055 silverstream055 says:
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      Agreed that “coach up” has become a sports cliche — I’ll try not to say it again. It’a a bad deal.

      Agreed that OSU football has problems that go deeper than players employing poor technique on the o-line and in the defensive backfield. Still, like you, I’m encouraged that the technique limitations are being addressed by the new coaches.

      Agreed that OSU fans may need to be patient for another year or two before seeing significantly better results. For me, it’s mostly about the running game. In 2011, OSU was unable to run the ball, and unable to stop the run — a fatal combination. In 2012, OSU is likely to continue to have problems in both of these areas. OSU’s running game will be limited by inexperience on the o-line and at RB. Meanwhile, opponents will exploit OSU’s undersized and undertalented defensive tackles to pound the ball up the middle time after time. Anyone remember the Utah game last year? All of this will likely result in another frustrating season for Beaver fans in 2012.

      Despite all this, I’m looking forward to the 2012 season. OSU’s passing game will be fun to watch, and will rack up a lot of yards. OSU’s pass defense will be improved (with better play by the defensive backs, and with better pressure from the defensive ends and linebackers). OSU’s special teams should be good (with the one big question mark being new punter Tim McMullen, who needs to be more consistent than the departed Johnny Hekker). And if a few players surprise us and come up big (e.g., Castro Masaniai at DT, true freshman Chris Brown at RB), who knows?

      • WFO WFO says:
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        Let’s not forget about Stan Hasiak. Here’s hoping he comes in and makes an immediate impact.

  • ObjCritic says:
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    Poor Agnew:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/beavers/index.ssf/2012/04/oregon_state_spring_football_d_6.html

    There’s no problem with his hamstrings as long as he’s not practicing football or playing football in the regular season…

    Seems like its best to relegate Agnew to spot duty instead of investing time and reps in him. Stevenson’s a known quantity, Jenkins is no Pac-12 threat, so invest the time in Woods and Ward, and give Brown his shot this fall

    Too bad about Agnew’s hamstrings, he seems like a great kid and competitor.

  • Jack says:
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    I like this kid. He has wheels and some really strong hands. A friend of young Mr. Andrews, no doubt.

    • bone says:
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      no arm tackles there. looks good, probably would get moved to outside linebacker.

      • Jack says:
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        I lie him for a lot of positions. He certainly has the wheels to play outside. But he can probably play inside or even on the line if he bulks up.

  • Jack says:
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    who has the skinny on the hoops recruit spotted at the baseball game yesterday?

    Robert Upshaw is on an official somewhere this weekend with nobody knowing where that might be.

    A boy can dream….

  • progressivebeav says:
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    Thanks for the reports Silver.

    How has Rosa looked at DT? I know he’s undersized, but does he show any signs of making an impact?

  • osbeavs says:
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    I haven’t been following spring ball at all this year because I feel that we have a 3 win season coming. It seems inevitable relative to the minimal off-season changes. The one change that sounds like a positive though has been Rod Perry. The question is, do we think we will even have the opportunity to see the change? I think that most teams will just run wild on us, they won’t have to resort to the pass often enough for us to notice any improvement. Our team is built to stop the pass (strong DE pass rush and decent coverage) like the Colts were last year. I think our team situation will resemble something like the 2011 Colts.

    • Jack says:
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      Wait… you’re saying that we’re getting Andrew Luck?

      • osbeavs says:
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        If only college worked like that… People want “fair” by establishing a playoff, what about establishing parity too… I wish we had some high draft picks after last years debacle.

        • Grape says:
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          Nah, recruiting is what makes college more interesting to me.

          • osbeavs says:
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            Agreed but an arms race in football only serves to make the rich get richer. That same arms race could spoil recruiting. I think most people assume that a playoff structure happens in a vacuum and doesn’t have ripple effects on the sport.

    • bendbeaver bendbeaver says:
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      So you’re blaming the fact that there was only 3 wins solely on the coaching?

      • HopefulBeav says:
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        I am. The fact there were only three wins (instead of four, or five, or six, etc.) is on the coaching. I agree we didn’t have the personnel for an eight, nine, or ten win season last year, but the fact our record was 3-9 is on the coaching. Things like it taking our coaching staff until halftime against Utah to realize Utah could only run the ball and therefore maybe we should stack the box on defense (Utah’s coach even took a jab at Riley and Co. after the game for that one). Or when it took us into the third quarter against mighty Sacramento State to realize our offensive lineman can move the opposing defenders off the ball at will – maybe we should run it (at which point we used ONE BACK the rest of the game and that back had to miss significant time because of an overuse injury). Those are just the first two examples I thought of, I’m sure there were more. As many holes as there were on the 2011 team, the players were better than a 3-9 record.

    • SadBeaver says:
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      Yeah, because we don’t have a QB… hmm.. that makes sense. The Colts were built around a single player and a strong leader at that. A real thinker… take him away and you have what you had last year with the Colts. I see absolutely no connection. You should take up another hobby perhaps. I agree it may be a tough year, but to suggest this team has any of the struggles of the Colts is truly a stretch. Plus with a bit of luck(couple of players stepping up to combine with our current talent), it might actually be a good season.

      • osbeavs says:
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        You are right, we never had a peyton or dungy (like they once had). Its an analogy to what happens when you have a team built to play with a lead while having superior talent. When the talent is gone and we player from behind the entire game, we end up with an embarrassing record.

        And in response to the other pollyanna, yes this is entirely coaching. They are responsible for the piss poor game planning, execution and talent they put on the field. Who else could you want to blame?

        • bendbeaver bendbeaver says:
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          When the same plan that was in effect in the past and won games, Riley was regarded as an excellent coach (see walk-on O linemen become studs and getting recruits below others radar). The thing is, with that plan, you’ll have peaks and valleys from year-to-year. I tend to withhold blame to this point, because it’s more complicated than just picking one element of the game. But maybe I should just go along with the bunch and agree that it’s all Riley’s fault.

          • Jack says:
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            Not that I think one way or the other about your general topic, but who are you talking about when you say walk-on O-linemen have become studs?

          • bone says:
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            Jack- I think there was a time were Beaver Nation wasn’t up in arms about a walk-on getting a lot of playing time, they may not have been “studs’ but we have had quite a few solid linemen over the years.

          • Jack says:
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            Well, there was Henderson, whose success no other walk-on could come close to matching. But I can’t think of anyone else.

          • SadBeaver says:
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            Well in the very recent past Grant Johnson was a walk on and earned all league honors. Other recent successes of walk-ons include:
            Mike Hass
            Alexis Serna
            Slade Norris

            Yeah they are few and far between, but good players still slip through the cracks or need another year of development. As long as the best players are playing, why should we care where they come from?

          • Jack says:
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            Well, we’re talking OL here, so it seems the consensus is that Henderson is it.

            K’s just get walk-on status at most schools and earn a ship. Now that Riley has targeted specialists for ships out of school, that is probably a thing of the past.

            And Hass and Norris should never have been made to walk on anywhere… especially Hass after the HS career he had. That was just wrong.

          • osbeavs says:
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            Really is regarded as an excellent coach but that is always followed by a very important qualifier. He always does the most with what he has. Basically, that is a backhanded compliment to say that he has a marginal product and polishes it up real neat like.

            I think that some of the recruiting is the coaching staff’s fault. Obviously we can’t expect to get a USC type haul but perennially being ranked about 10th is absolute nonsense. We should reasonably expect to have some decent recruits roll through Corvallis. Now, I know you will spit out some examples but the reality is, we don’t have enough to actually make a rose bowl (or even decent bowl game). Of course, he also does a decent job of building a serviceable player out of a “walk-on” on occasion but that is not enough. I don’t think it is far to praise him for the few diamonds in the rough that he has found without criticizing for the numerous busts. Not to mention the obviously horrible game plans and personnel decisions in the recent past.

          • bendbeaver bendbeaver says:
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            The Rose Bowl would’ve happened in 2008 except for a fumble out of the end zone. So I would say it’s possible in the future.

          • Jack says:
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            Fumble out of the end zone wouldn’t have mattered if Pankey had more speed than a slow o-lineman in the mud on that play where Toby jogged past him for a 40 yard score.

            Foreshadowing for the two years following 2008 considering we lost our front seven after 2007 and all who replaced them (along with our whole secondary and half our o-line) in 2008? 2009 was something of a miracle year, all things considered.

  • Beavergopher Beavergopher says:
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    Dyson?

  • slamadam says:
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    great stuff SS, have you gotten a chance to watche the linebackers much?

    • silverstream055 silverstream055 says:
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      I haven’t yet watched the linebackers much. The one exception is JUCO transfer Cade Cowdin: http://oregonstate.scout.com/2/1141068.html I was curious to see whether Cowdin might be a special talent, as some people suggested. So far, not seeing anything extraordinary, but perhaps that’s because Cowdin is new, and still trying to learn the Beavers’ schemes.

  • Jack says:
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    OT… you would think the RG has learned its lesson.
    http://www.registerguard.com/web/sports/27916866-41/alonso-oregon-clay-aliotti-kiko.html.csp

    Twice they’ve written about Alonso, and twice he’s been arrested a week later for being a drunk idiot. For his sake, I hope that doesn’t repeat this year. But how many chances do we give kids these days? And since when is coaching kids a community service fulfillment? They don’t specify that, but it is hinted at. I’m not really comfortable letting criminals spend time with kids playing games as a punishment.

    • NCAA_viOlation NCAA_viOlation says:
      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

      I happened to overhear one of his coaching lessens down in Eugene. It sounded something like this (except with more stuttering of course)

      “Hey kids, today’s lessen is about forgiveness. If you’re a talented football player with a “physique typically reserved for a Marvel comic book character,” you can get away with being a drunken idiot on several occasions, even if you get caught driving drunk the same day your coach warns the team about watching your behavior. However, if you don’t look like me, you better keep your nose clean.”

      • osbeavs says:
        VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

        Please remember that he hot a “fake” one year suspension also. During said suspension he was actually out with an injury that would’ve prevented him from playing.

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