Today was another beautiful day in Corvallis as the team took the field for their last practice of the week. I was there a little late, so I missed the beginning of the special teams practice, but I did learn one thing. Park far away when they are practicing extra points. Someone has a nice new ball print on their windshield after Trevor Romaine punched it over the net into the first few rows of cars.
Here is a quick bullet point breakdown of what I saw before I get in more depth later.
1. Quarterbacks: While Sean was his usual self (very accurate all day long) I really felt like Brent Vanderveen took some serious strides to be the second string QB today. He looked very relaxed and efficient in the pocket, and his throwing motion, while back to a more side arm type style, looked more natural and his throws were accurate. He really rifled a few in that showed he can put some zip on the ball when he needs to.
2. Coaches: I am officially in the Coach Garrett fan club. He was all over the place and really working with guys on the details of running routes and being precise. I saw a lot of plays where he would stop the play and force the player to work on the little detail that they were missing in the play before continuing. I also think the staff in general is just more active. Seeing coach Brennan really hammer in how to hold the ball and where to put your hands when catching the ball was pretty cool to see.
3. Secondary: I know it is just spring, but I really have liked watching Naji Patrick and Dashon Hunt play. With Larry Scott being injured, seeing the progression of Hunt and Patrick as they look to get the starting spot or playing time. Both have decent jam moves at the line and do a good job keeping up with their receivers. Hunt has pretty fluid hips and while he is not super tall, he is a pretty dang good player.
4. Linebackers: I think that Darrell Songy and Caleb Saulo are going to be big names this year. Both of them are fast and have good instincts. They also both feed off of competition and each other. With Doctor sitting out right now, they are both getting solid looks and i think they are making the most of their opportunities.
5. Tight Ends: I will have to say that this is the deepest, most talented set of total clones we have on the team. They are all these big, 6’5 monsters is seems like, who can all run and all catch. Watching them do drills, they were the most precise and most in tune with the techniques. In one drill, every single Tight End watch the ball in their hands, purposefully collected it to make sure they had the catch first and then turned to get blasted by people trying to force fumbles. The tight ends are the strongest unit on the offense right now and it is pretty amazing. Guys like Stanton, Perry, Clute and Craig are closing the gap on Hamlett and Smith to give OSU five solid options.
6. Miscellaneous: I thought both the offensive lines and the receivers took steps forward on a day that was marked with some pretty sloppy play. Bray, Sapolu and Harlow were able to move the interior around a bit and get some good holes for the backs and the receivers were able to get open more. I also saw a lot of plays where the offense was manufacturing holes in the defense with just their formations. Far to many drops and too many mistakes on the line, but definitely some improvement in technique and execution of the offense.
And I thought Sam Curtius looked pretty solid today stepping in for Keenan at left tackle when he went out for a bit.