We were live and tweeting today at the DamCity event at Mountainside high school in Beaverton, Oregon watching OSU mid way through spring. Check our tweets for pretty much a play by play of the whole day. For now, we will just go over a general position group summary and some stand outs. This will not be comprehensive as DB position has so many injuries so you can’t see the actual standouts and other position groups weren’t watched as closely. Here we go:
-Jonathan Smith (JS) is very in control of this team. The delusional fans especially on twitter who think that Mike Riley is running the team, will take it over, is more involved than people think, etc. are just like we said DELUSIONAL. There is some video content that we posted and you can just tell MR is no where near the team other than his position group and honestly is just another one of the guys and coaches. Smith leads everything with no hesitation, and MR is NEVER next to him whispering, coaching, pointing or anything. He is literally with his position group all the time like a normal coach. Please stop spreading this narrative for those who are. It’s embarrassing and very *uckish honestly. Just stop.
Practice was crisp and fast paced. OSU uses MUCH more tackling dummies, pads, etc. than any coach or team I have seen in the past 20 years. There is always a purpose for each session they go through. No one is standing around acting like they don’t know what to do. Warm-ups are different, much more team oriented vs individual groups, same with post practice and special teams work. Also, JD pointed this out, every drill where a QB was throwing to a WR, kicker kicking FG, punting, blocking, etc. basically any drill where it was multiple position groups interacting, there were multiple things happening i.e. three QBs throwing to three different WR at once. Or two kickers kicking. Or 3 guys blocking 3 guys. NEVER just one on one and people watching. I love this because its all about the reps!
Now comes position reviews:
QB- 2 man race between Colletto and Luton. Blount got a few reps but those two got significantly more. We know the coaching staff has been mixing it up but it just seems that these two are at the top. They are also playing the most consistent.
Some outlets report how “good” Luton looks in the new offense. This is so OVERSTATED. Every QB is treading water with the new schemes and what not. Luton looks fine as far as injury is concerned. He does have good zip on ball. Still varying accuracy.
Colletto is spitting image of JS in college. A little taller but not by much. Has same “heave” delivery that JS had. More mobile, also wears number 9 ironically. Stocky though. Luton seems to be a bit ahead because he knows when to run and when to get out of the pocket. Colletto is still learning this as he got jumbled up a few times as the pocket collapsed.
Really, JS will build the offense around what he has. He has stated this so many times. If its Luton, he will try to spread the ball around and motion action. Colletto seems more of a solid runner, not fast but solid so you would see more true read option. Again, WAY too early to tell right now how good either will be but seems like its between them two.
RB: Artavis Pierce will be a stud this year. He looks bigger, faster and smarter. He just does everything right and is everything you want in a back that plays every down. He is the clear number one. No one else close. Likewise, Calvin Tyler, #23, is the clear number two and capable. He had some good goal line work and is pretty small so he does a good job of hiding behind the line and then exploding through like Bernard mastered. Can also catch out of the backfield. Him and AP are a great first back and capable back up.
Christian Wallace is a wild card here. He had a few carries, also a fumble. He looks fluid and like he is having fun at the position. He just looks happy which makes us happy. He will make a big impact on special teams if he embraces it and could be a big factor in return game. But barring injuries, doubt he plays much this year. He needs to work on pass blocking and just being solid at running, catching and blocking consistently. But so much potential. 2019 look for him to have a special package, all special teams work, maybe a wildcat. Who knows, that could be 2018 if he learns the plays and dedicates himself.
WR: One name to know and remember now: Champ Flemmings. He will be huge this year. Similar role to the legend James Rodgers his true frosh year. Flemmings looks solid in his body compared to last year he looked like he was 10. But it is clear that JS is looking for him to be involved in the offense in quick passes, screens, fly sweep pitches, etc. Anything to get him the ball in space. The dude is quick and just like Rodgers, hardly even gets hit because no one can touch him. Also has great hands and was returning punts. Although he dropped a few.
Timmy Hernandez will be a solid senior like Brandon Powers was. Isaiah Hodgins looks on a different level than all the WR. Both physically and mentally. He is BIG and looks much more comfortable in his second year with a coach that knows if he will be playing in games or not. He went down with a shoulder injury late in practice, stayed on field with no pads on and sling and ice. Seemed in good spirits. Great route runner as well and creates separation. But again, star of the day and future will be Flemmings. Kolby Taylor also looked solid over the middle on slants and after the catch. Very sturdy player.
It is great to see the knowledge of the coaching staff embracing quick passes, screens and slants that should be the bread and butter of an offense with quick guys and a mediocre QB at best. No diss on players but I love the way you can see the coaches building around their stronger players and just not even messing with their weaker positions.
TE: Like we just said above, doesn’t seem to be a strong position right now with Togai and Tuli out. We saw a grand total of ZERO passes thrown the TE way. Doesn’t mean they didn’t have their good plays through. Isaiah Smalls, true frosh, will absolutely play in 2018. He is smart and is picking up plays well. For example, the blocking schemes you can tell he is in the right place at the right time especially on WHAM blocks and outside pulling. This is encouraging. Also, number 45, our boy Ralph T, was first man up with the injuries. He looked solid blocking.
OL: First team = Yanni, Moore, Houston, Lavaka, Brandel. Don’t see that changing much unless someone else emerges as center. Lavaka, Brandel and Moore seem locked in. Yanni solid at OG. Houston is so suspect at center. He just isn’t that big and gets beat more than any other OL. Onesimus Clark looks the part but didn’t see much from him. Kammy Delp still not even in the conversation. All GA JC transfers are garbage. Will be a group to watch going forward if a younger guy emerges.
DL: First team = JC transfer Jermey R, Aydon, Kalani. Seems solid group. Jeremey R, has some nasty in him. A few scuffles and push after whistle. Love that. Didn’t watch this group much. Aydon up a lot in weight. Don’t know if thats a good thing. Seems like the DC scheme is for all 3 DL to take up blockers like a real 3-4 is run. Not Clunes version.
LB: First team = Kee, Doug T, Shemar Smith and Willis. I expect Bright if he comes back to be in this and Andrzej Hughes-Murray. Love Shemar Smith though. He is has gotten significantly bigger and all healed up from injury. Will be a rotation player. Kee Whetzel is LOCKED in to start. Dude brings the juice and energy and is fast enough to cover RB or a slot WR. Doug T looks like he could hold down the middle. Big dude. Think Alan Darlin.
DB: Hard to tell with so many injuries. Jalen Moore beefed up and flying all over. DeShon Wilson will probably burn his redshirt. Hits HARD and had a few at the scrimmage. Has speed as well. Has body to play right away on special teams. With Crawford, Irvine and Dwayne Williams all out, we could see Wilson as a nickel player and sub. Isiah Dunn has beefed up as well. Kaleb Hayes is a long rangy corner who made some plays as well. I am not worried about this unit at all. Morris will be back at the other safety and Trajon Cotton, Jeffery Manning will contribute. We have great long rangy cover athletes here. The most athletic I have seen a secondary.
Overall, didn’t watch D very closely. Was focusing on offense because of how bad they have been. Its hard to play defense even if you are Alabama when you have the most 3 and outs in the nation and score 10 points per game in the Pac-12. Defense seems they will be serviceable.
Special Teams: GET RID OF AUSSIE STYLE PUNTING NOW. NO ONE DOES THIS IN THE NFL. THAT SHOULD BE A SIGN. You are guaranteed a shank punt which can swing game honestly. This happened in the scrimmage a 15 yarder straight out of bounds. However, Alex Bland number 38 from Australia looks solid. Step up from the enigma of Probeski last year. Onto kicker. Jordan Choukair has a HUGE leg. He looks much more comfortable and involved then last year. Seemed like GA even though he would say opposite, didn’t give to craps about special teams. They can be a huge part of the game good or bad. You will notice. Group seems to be solid right now. Will be better in both Punter and Kicker then 2017.
The ONLY returners fielding punts today were Champ Flemmings and our boy Tino Allen. Both were a mixed bag. Still learning how to be consistent. Trevon Bradford was out today but was the only player close to the returners. Again its all about reps. I love that we have set three punt returners and that is all who take the reps. Not having 7 guys back there watching gives the 3 top guys double reps and experience and also has less guys watching at practice which is a theme in the JS era so far. No kickoffs were practiced besides a few kicks from the kickers with no coverage or returns.
Standouts: As discussed above, a few standouts from this practice;
-Champ Flemmings, WR. Great athlete. JS building some plays around him.
-DeShon Wilson, DB. Hard hitter and quick to ball. All over the field.
-Artavis Pierce, RB. Will be our workhorse RB.
-Isiah Smalls, TE. Actually looked the part for a just turned 18 year old. Smart player. Can split him out as well.
-Doug T, LB. Solid inside linebacker. Just big and strong. Could shore up the middle of the D that has been lacking for a while. All his hits and tackles pushed the ball carrier back, not him back.
-Jordan Choukair, K. Looks much improved and has big leg. Could be weapon this year. Also booted kickoffs with no coverage far. All his FG kicks continuously go “UP” vs straight on or line drive. A lot of lift to his kicks.
-Jonathan Smith, HC. The guy is just an encourager, high energy but not annoying and a leader. He is VERY involved on offense in almost every play. Trusts his coaches and the players listen when he talks.
See you at the spring game in two weeks.