Between jumping from shady spot to shady spot and checking if sunburn had fully set in, there was some pretty good football on the field this morning. Nothing new to report in terms of special teams practice, business as usual if you will.
Sean Mannion had his best day of camp so far, connecting on 7 straight passes in team drills. Mannion was decisive and quick to release the football to his receiver. Brandin Cooks touched on the relationship factor between the receivers and Mannion and it seemed to be the case today. Mannion gauged the defense in the 6-12 yard range with ease for most of the day.
To add another piece to the puzzle that is the runningback competition, Storm Woods showed great ability to pick up blitzers in the passing game. Rudolf Fifita slipped past his man only to run into Woods who set a firm base and kept Fifita in front of him the remainder of the play while Mannion stood still just two yards behind the block. A play later Woods was protecting Mannion’s blind side and cut down Dylan Wynn beautifully.
It seems as if Joshua Andrews is assisting in the line calls with center Isaac Seumalo. Andrews spent time last season at center so he has the knowledge of the position and can be a tremendous asset next to the still green Seumalo.
POSITION FOCUS: WIDE RECEIVERS & TIGHT ENDS
Coach Brennan and Locey are high character/energy guys that seem to be getting every ounce out of their players. Brennan continued to stress “Don’t quit” and “Finish the play” while coach Locey commented “Make each other better.”
Receivers worked hard on stalk blocking, chopping their feet under control and absorbing the defender with hips down and eyes up. Obum Gwacham seemed to be the most effective blocker and given his size that shouldn’t be a surprise. Who was a pleasant surprise was Micah Hatfield who certainly isn’t the strongest wide out, but showed great technique and kept his man in front of him well.
After the blocking drills, the group ran through their route tree with quarterbacks delivering the ball. Brennan continued to stress fundamentals as he made sure the guys were getting their proper depth in their routes, pressing up through the “defender” (who was Brennan) and working back to the ball, catching with high hands.
Tight ends continued their work on blocking the edge and worked on slipping up to the next level to engage oncoming linebackers. This may be the best blocking group of tight ends OSU has ever had and Connor Hamlett commented that they worked with the offensive line in the off season to nail down line calls and assignments in the run game.
Micah Hatfield continues to be arguably the most consistent receiver on the field and caught everything thrown his way. Hatfield even showed that he has the ability to get vertical as he blew past Ryan Handford and hauled in the pass a good 6 yards away from the defender. It looks more and more like Hatfield will play a bigger role than many previously anticipated.
An aspect of Markus Wheaton’s game that makes him so hard to defend is his ability to get a clean release off of the line. His quickness and ability to get hands off his body get him into his route with no interference and from there; there are not many corners in the country that can keep up in the open field. His first step is impressive.
Malik Gilmore has begun to show glimpses of the talent that he brings to the group and is catching the ball much better. Gilmore seemed to be pretty wide-eyed in week one, but his routes are becoming crisper and little things like coming back for the ball and catching the ball with his hands are now common.
A perfect example of what size can do for you: Obum Gwacham lined up in goal line drills against Mishawn Cummings. Cummings jammed Obum well, stayed in his hip pocket, was in perfect position and jumped at the exact right time. The only problem, he’s seven inches shorter and Gwacham quite literally jumped over the top of him and took the ball away in mid-air.
After dodging the bullet with what was thought to be a broken hand, Richard Mullaney has pressed through pain and, like Hatfield is doing his best to prove that he deserves playing time. Mullaney may have the best body awareness of anyone on the team. Much like former OSU wide out Mike Hass, he’s not the biggest kid but his ability to contort in the air and come down on his feet with the ball is impressive. Mullaney should be expected to contribute this season.
He may seem a bit unassuming and frankly when you look at him the guy doesn’t look all that athletic, but Colby Prince is effective, no doubt about it. Quite possibly OSU’s most complete tight end, Prince released up field against a covering linebacker, gave a head fake, planted and created a good five yards of separation between him and his defender. The ball was delivered and Prince walked into the endzone.
What may benefit Kellen Clute the most is simple, gaining weight and getting stronger. A few times he was pushed too easily off his route which threw off the timing from his quarterback. With the injury he sustained a year ago, Clute is still learning how to play in this offense and is a work in progress.
A kid who will be very exciting to watch for the next few years is big 6-7 tight end Connor Hamlett. The most impressive aspect of his game is how fluid he seems, even with his big frame; that and his soft hands that snag virtually everything thrown his way. Hamlett is a very hard worker, often staying after practice with his tight end mates to play catch and sometimes work with the offensive line.
A quick look at Dustin Stanton and one might think, basketball player. He’s tall and lean and is very athletic. A year with Chef Raul and Brian Miller should put Stanton around the 250 mark and have him ready next season.
DJ Welch had his elbow in the brace that he wore for most of last season. He seemed to be fine, but something to watch as it seems to be a nagging injury.
Coach Brennan and Banker were very vocal today and got on their guys after missed assignments.
As mentioned earlier, Mannion looked impressive today, finding numerous receivers in team drills but finding Brandin Cooks more than most.
It doesn’t happen often, but Jordan Poyer got all sorts of turned around as Cooks threw an okey-doke at him caught the pass and flew down the field for the score.