Many bodies returned from the "boo-boo squad" today and were at least part-time participants. Jordan Bishop, Mana Tuivailala, Jovan Stevenson, Colby Prince, Malcolm Agnew, Colin Kelly and Caleb Smith all took part in individual drills and looked fine.
Cade Cowdin was held out with a tooth infection. James Dockery was at practice and was helping coach-up the defensive backs, donned in construction orange shoes and a plush Beaver beanie.
Jordan Poyer blocked a field goal in the special teams session that simulated an end of the game situation. Poyer would later dive for a tipped ball slightly overthrown by Sean Mannion and record the INT.
Michael Philipp and Justin Addie were playing on opposite sides for a brief moment in individual drills vs. air. It is interesting to see the line develop and no position is more important than the blind side tackle spot, which seems to be an issue early on.
A player who hasn't gotten much press is walk on Kramer Ferrell who is a spitting image of Tyler Trosin and has a game similar to former OSU receiver Taylor Kavanaugh.
As spring continues it's hard not to notice Obum Gwacham, not just because of his size, but because of the improvement in about every facet of his game. He looks a half step quicker, is catching the ball better and has begun to learn how to use his frame to his advantage. He shields off defenders quite well, multiple times even in good coverage, defenders were unable to get around Gwacham to record the break up.
Tyrequek Zimmerman is becoming more comfortable in Banker's defense and was limiting space between him and the receivers with a hand on their hip. Zimmerman needs to learn how to make plays on the ball when in "trail technique."
Looking over to the lineman it was amazing to watch the upper body strength of Jake Welch. Welch would stymie that oncoming defender and when he had had enough, simply threw them aside with little effort. This happened time and time again, not so sure it's the technique you want, but it seemed pretty effective.
The other player who looked solid was Derek Nielsen. Nielsen is strong and was possibly the most fundamental blocker of the period. He went up against Dylan Wynn and had no problem keeping him at the line of scrimmage.
Nielson keeps his hips low and continues to churn his legs like all good lineman need. Michael Philipp showed a few times that when you stop your legs, you've already lost the battle.
Joshua Andrews was another body who held up well against the d-line. He and Andrew Seumalo had a couple big collisions and both held their ground quite well.
Staying with the o-line theme, Jake Welch was conversing with Andrews pre-snap, clearly still learning the nuances of the center position and all the calls that must be made.
Markus Wheaton continues his spring progress and caught about six balls throughout the team drills, one a deep route delivered on the button from Mannion that went for 62 and a score. The focus and will to get better seem on an entirely different level with Wheaton.
As the period neared the half-way point, players began making mental mistakes and the entire offensive coaching staff was VERY vocal in voicing their displeasure. At one point, Sean Mannion made the wrong read and had a ball batted down by the defender. Coach Riley shouted "Don't pass up a profit!"
Something that Mannion will need to improve on is dumping the ball off to his safety valve, exactly what Riley was alluding to. After the mental mistakes, Riley allowed the defense to up the aggressiveness and the team went live.
Storm Woods continues to impress this set of eyes; he runs hard and has finally begun to explode to and through the hole. At one point he did take a pretty big hit and seemed a little bit shaky afterwards.
Coach Riley said he hadn't heard anything and Woods finished the remainder of practice.
Woods' counterpart Terron Ward ran well today and is very slippery between the tackles, much like former OSU 'backs have been. Ward is very shifty and has improved his vision and lateral movement over the offseason.
As the team continued to go live the defense flexed their muscles and laid some wood to the offensive squad. Jabral Johnson put a crossing Kellen Clute in his cross hairs and folded the redshirt freshman in half.
Just a couple plays later, Kevin Cummings attempted to block Michael Doctor who lowered his head and sent Cummings flying back a good five yards, landing on top of him. The two exchanged words, all of which can't be repeated.
Not to be left out, the secondary came through with quite a few plays as well. Ryan Murphy had two interceptions on the day and Peter Ashton made a beautiful one handed interception as he tip toed the sideline staying in bounds. A few plays later, Ashton screamed up from his safety position to put Ward on his back.
The defense was fired up today and was finally able to hit without the wrath of Coach Riley coming down on them. We are starting to see the swagger come back to the black shirts as they were swarming to the football and flying around all afternoon.
Position Focus - Tight Ends
Colby Prince and Caleb Smith did not participate in any contact drills, but both did everything else. Coach Riley said Smith is up to 265 now and thinks he is physically ready to go this fall. Prince may be the least athletic of the group, but does most everything well and is a good blocker on the edge.
Tyler Perry continues his progression in this his third season and should be a great option for Langsdorf (or Riley) to call upon in short yardage situations. The one area that he will need to work on is his physicality and technique at the line of scrimmage.
When trying to block Dylan Wynn, he lowered his head and Wynn pushed him inside where he was lost and the play went for nothing.
Connor Hamlett is also having difficulty picking up blitzers and keeping his 6-7 frame low while blocking. At one point Michael Doctor came off the edge and while Hamlett stepped inside to chip on the d-end, he was too late and had it been live, Cody Vaz would have been blindsided by an untouched Doctor.
Kellen Clute had a tough day and seems a bit slow still on his recovered knee. Clute needs to work on disengaging from defenders when getting into his routes. He is still young and will have plenty of time to develop, especially given the giant setback last year.