We're now over the halfway point of fall camp in Corvallis and a few decisions for Coach Riley and the coaching staff to make before the Sept. 1 season opener are starting to come to light.
The biggest question mark for the Beavers as far as the depth chart goes is the running back position. Riley had an update on that situation today after practice.
"I think we have, in our minds, what would be considered a top two," Riley said.
This is purely speculative, but the immediate thought is that the top two are Malcolm Agnew and Storm Woods. Terron Ward is dealing with a hamstring injury that has had him out of practice the past three days. Jordan Jenkins will get playing time, but probably much more as a situational back on third downs.
True freshman Chris Brown will likely get redshirted, but even if he doesn't, it's unlikely he will be the Agnew of this year. When it comes to redshirting players, Riley has some thoughts on that as well.
"I wrote down about 15, 16 names the other night," Riley said. "Those are including probably three or four question marks amongst those. It was a good discussion, we're getting closer."
Riley also announced today that Michael Beaton and Mana Tuivailala have decided to leave the team for personal reasons, and there are no plans for the time being to replace their scholarships from the outside, but rather look at awarding scholarships to walk-on players.
Positional Focus: Secondary
Senior safety Anthony Watkins, the team's leading tackler in 2011, has been out now for over a week with a hip flexor injury.
Even though he's eager to get back out on the field, Watkins knows he has to feel certain that he is ready when he does.
"I'm just taking it day-by-day," Watkins said. "Each day I come out here and try to run, try to sprint as fast as I can and see how it feels, and that's pretty much what determines if I'm ready to practice or not."
Riley stressed the importance of not having Watkins comes too soon, "I don't have any expectation, I just told him to make sure he's completely healthy before he came back. We don't need any reoccurrences so I don't know when that will be."
Watkins knows all about reoccurring injuries, as his counterpart at safety a year ago, Lance Mitchell, played through a lower abdominal injury for much of 2011.
"Last year, I saw Lance in a lot of pain and I don't want to have a situation like that, so hopefully my hip will keep progressing."
Tyrequek Zimmerman has been solid in Watkins' stead with the first unit. He looks capable of filling that role as the top backup at the position during the season.
The other backup safety looks to still be up for grabs between Peter Ashton and Micah Audiss. Give the edge to Audiss for now, as it was him with the second unit at the beginning of fall camp when Watkins was in.
Cyril Noland-Lewis has more upside than those two at the position, but still has a lot to learn as a true freshman. He may avoid a redshirt if Watkins' injury ends up being worse than the team thinks, or if he passes Ashton or Audiss on the depth chart as he improves and learns the defense.
The cornerbacks also got two new drills in today while the rest of the team (aside from quarterbacks and wide receivers) were doing a 9-on-9 running drill, or "middle drill" as the team calls it.
The corners and receivers did red zone one-on-ones from the 5-yard line. They also did a drill with two wide receivers and three cornerbacks, and the corners got a lot of good work on zone coverage.
**Freshman defensive tackle Noa Aluesi had the lone interception today. The ball got tipped around two or three times before Aluesi came down with the ball. Once we had it, the 6-foot-6 freshman looked lost as to what to do with it.
**Kevin Cummings had the best catch Friday in the goal line one-on-one drill. On a goal line fade pattern Cummings leaped up over the cornerback, used his body well, and came down with the ball right in the back left corner of the end zone, keeping his foot in bounds.
**D.J. Welch and Rashaad Reynolds were both back and playing with the first team today after sitting out with knee injuries the past two days.