Oregon State defensive coordinator Mark Banker gave me a rundown of where his players are at after three weeks of spring practice.
There are three practices left leading up to Friday night's spring game.
How has the development of the players gone this spring?
"They are progressing," Banker said. "Overall there's something to look at. You want it to go better but then you look at last spring and fall camp, and we remember the season and how it played out. I don't know if we were any better than last year in the spring and fall. But by in large, guys are getting better."
Have the injuries to safety Tyrequek Zimmerman and defensive end Scott Crichton been a problem?
"It would be nice to have (middle linebacker Joel) Skotte and Zimmerman working together to develop more continuity," Banker said. "At the same time it gives us a chance to look at the end position with Lavonte Barnett and Akeem Gonzales more. It gave us more opportunity to work with (safeties) Cyril Noland-Lewis, Kendall Hill and Zack Robinson. The downside is (defensive tackle) Siale (Hautau) with him being hurt (broken hand) so early. Both defensive tackles (Edwin Delva and Hautau) need to get back in shape. Then they have to sustain down in and down out at this level."
Here's my story on the JC defensive tackles, Delva and Hautau, from earlier in the spring.
I wrote about the middle linebacker competition here. Here's Banker's take.
"Middle linebacker turned into a real competition. Joel Skotte is young and being put in the heat of it. Josh Williams has been out for (nearly) two years, but he has done well physical to get back in football shape. He has done a good job to get his house in order off the football field, academically and things like that. And Josh has come along. He has given us some good looks. We feel good about him and his progress."
"Sean is the incumbent and Steven competes, but doesn't know what's expected of him yet," Banker said. "It's more than just learning scheme with JC transfers, it's like a freshman (of not knowing how the system works). He has the physical tools. Sean's expectations are higher because he's played and been in the system. Those guys are having a good competition there."
What about the rest of the corners?
"It's not a given, you would like it to be (with returning starter Rashaad Reynolds). You want to have three dependable corners come out of spring. And then Larry Scott and his development is coming along on. He had a knee injury as a freshman and recovered from it last year. There's been flashes for him."
Will this veteran group be further along this year? Can you do more with them?
Expansion (of the defense) isn't the deal," Banker said. "At this time of year it's fundamentals and get the base in of what we do. Scheme, there's an upside and down side. You use scheme to attack what you see each week. But you don't want to overburden them. Good athletes, you just slow down with too much."