11.Aug.2012 Day 6 Practice Report
I attended most of the Beavers' midday practice today/Saturday at Prothro Field (11 am to 1:15 pm). I spent most of my time focusing on the O-line.
Freshman o-lineman Gavin Andrews participated in the first part of practice, until his head started hurting. He sat down on a half wall near the sidelines, looking dazed and sick, leaning forward and holding his head in his hands. Head Trainer Arika Iso came over and talked with him for about five minutes. From the parts of the conversation I could overhear, it seems that Gavin banged his head hard in practice yesterday/Friday, but didn't tell the trainers. He is now suffering from what may be a concussion, and was taken to the training room for further tests and observation (after a lecture from Arika Iso about the need to tell the trainers immediately about this sort of problem in the future).
A kinder, gentler Coach Cav was on display for at least the first half of practice today. He was doing a lot of teaching during O-line drills, in a relatively calm voice. Towards the end of practice, during 11-on-11 drills, the old Cav emerged and did some yelling. But overall Cav seems to be trying to do less screaming and cursing, and trying to be more constructive with his criticisms.
I spent a lot of time watching Isaac Seumalo today. Isaac is playing center with the first unit, and looks surprisingly comfortable in that position. QBs were taking most or all snaps with their hands under center, and Isaac appeared to be doing a reliable job with the snaps. After snapping the ball, Isaac was getting off the line quickly, and up into the pads of the d-line. During 11-on-11 drills, Isaac held his own against Castro Masaniai, and the other interior d-linemen. In fact, I only saw Isaac get beaten a few times all day (and it was a long practice). Isaac also did a nice job in 11-on-11 drills releasing from his initial block and picking off linebackers on draw and screen plays. If there was anything negative to say about Isaac, perhaps it was that, during blocking drills early in practice, Isaac did not look so sharp on shotgun snaps (but, in fairness, the shotgun snaps were being snapped back to an OSU assistant, and were not at all the point of the drill). From what I saw today, I expect that Isaac will be OSU's starting center on September 1, and will do a good job.
The O-line first unit today included Mike Philipp at LT, Josh Andrews at LG, Isaac at center, Grant Enger at RG, and Colin Kelly at RT. When I wasn't watching Isaac, I was watching Mike Philipp. I thought MP looked good — certainly better and healthier than last year. Again, just from what I saw today, I expect MP to bounce back and have a good season at LT for the Beavs. At the very least, MP will represent a major upgrade from last year's LT, Mike Remmers (although that's not saying much, of course….)
Garrett Weinrich played LT with the second unit during today's practice. GW doesn't seem to get off the ball quite as fast as Isaac Seumalo, and got beaten a bit more often as a result, but still held his own most of the time against various D-linemen (including Dylan Wynn). GW appears to have good size and strength already (and will presumably improve in these areas). He also seemed already to know his assignments — I don't recall GW getting yelled at much today by Cav, or by other coaches.
Nolan Hansen is a freshman offensive lineman from Corvallis HS. NH is listed at 6-6 and 250, but looked lighter than that. If NH is going to play o-line for OSU, he will need to add 50 pounds and a lot of strength. His main role today was as a blocking dummy. At best, he'll be given a chance to redshirt this season and to hit the weights (and the training table) hard. No help coming from NH in the near future.
Apart from the O-line, I only have a few other observations from today's practice:
Rashaad Reynolds looked good at CB all day. I think his one-on-one pass coverage — and especially his press coverage — will be significantly better this season than last season. Today he showed an ability to come up close to the line, then backpedal quickly, and stay with Wheaton and Cooks on most pass routes, keeping tight coverage all the way down the field. This was true even though RR had his right knee wrapped in an athletic bandage (suggesting that he wasn't 100%). Perhaps I'm imagining this, but RR seems — at least to me — to be more confident, and mentally tougher, than he was a year ago. If RR and Poyer stay healthy, OSU should be in good shape this season at CB.
Mannion seems to be throwing his short passes (10-15 yards) with slightly more velocity, and also more accuracy, than last year. He seems to be making an effort to keep the ball down — letting fewer balls sail on him (which was sometimes a problem last year). In the short passing game, Mannion also seems to be making decisions and getting rid of the ball a bit more quickly. So far, so good.
Oh, and Richard Mullaney participated fully in practice today and looked good (so the hand injury he sustained yesterday probably was not too serious).