There were hints during Tuesday's scrimmage as to what the Oregon State football team plans to do with some key personnel.
And the 78-play workout showed some life from the beleaguered defense.
Highlights included two interceptions, four fumbles, three of them recovered and one returned for a 46-yard touchdown by middle linebacker Kevin Unga.
Offensive standouts were two true freshmen, running back Malcolm Agnew and receiver Brandin Cooks.
Both played with the first string at times, and were productive. They figure in the plans for the Beavers this season.
Cooks led the team in receptions with four for 90 yards. His big play was a 59-yarder. He also ran the fly sweep twice for 21 yards.
This was his first scrimmage of camp since he sat out the first one last week after a sprained ankle.
"I got the jitters out, and it became football and second nature," Cooks said.
Agnew carried the ball seven times for 29 yards and caught two passes for 13 yards. He showed the versatility coach Mike Riley looks for in a starting tailback.
"You can (read something into it), but it's not a done deal," Riley said of the running back situation. "You can read into it that he impressed everybody and has done real well. He's in the running to be the running back or in the group of running backs who play in games."
Fellow freshmen running backs Terron Ward and Storm Woods performed well. Ward carried the ball seven times for 33 yards and Woods had six carries for 29 yards and a 4-yard TD.
Veterans Ryan McCants and Jovan Stevenson saw limited time. McCants had two carries for five yards and Stevenson had five carries for eight yards.
"We made some plays, but the offense could have done better," said Agnew, who fumbled when he couldn't hold on to a handoff.
The offense was flagged for several procedural penalties, which upset Riley, as did the turnovers. However, Riley said it was a good sign for the defense.
Starting quarterback Ryan Katz was picked off by safety Anthony Watkins in the end zone. Sean Mannion was intercepted in the end zone by Lance Mitchell.
“I loved the big plays they made, the interceptions, and athletic looking interceptions,” Riley said. “That’s exciting. We are making some progress.”
Three of the fumbles involved quarterback Cody Vaz. He couldn’t handle a snap, fouled up the handoff to Stevenson and had his arm bumped by a defensive lineman.
“It was too sporadic with penalties and turnovers, but what we want to do is taking shape,” Riley said of the offense. “There were penalties and a couple of interceptions, and that’s how you lose games right there.”
The big setback of the scrimmage came at the end when freshman tight end Kellen Clute went down with a right knee injury and needed help from the field.
“It’s a bad deal for the kid and a horrible deal for the tight end position,” Riley said “We are so thin there it’s scary.”
That position is thin because starter Joe Halahuni is out at least two games as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.
The two redshirt freshmen, Tyler Perry and Connor Hamlett, are suspended for a game each due to an MIP situation. They won’t be suspended for the first game because of the limited depth, Riley said.
“It won’t be in game 1 right away,” Riley said. “I don’t know what I’ll do right now. You have to do what’s right because they deserve it, but you have to protect our team by spreading it out a bit.”
In long-term injury news, starting senior defensive tackle Kevin Frahm had surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus Monday.
He was back with the team Tuesday and said he’ll return to practice in two weeks so can play in the Sept. 10 game at Wisconsin.
Starting cornerback Brandon Hardin said he’ll have surgery very soon to put a screw in his shoulder to fix a fracture.
“I’m just trying to find the right doctor,” Hardin said. “I want it fixed right. I want to come back this year, and not have problems in the future.”
Timelines Hardin has heard range from six weeks to out for the season.
Cody Vaz: 5-12-102-0-1
Ryan Katz: 6-8-73-1-1
Sean Mannion: 8-16-61-0-0
Jack Lomas: 6-7-27-1-0
Richie Harrington: 2-2-24-0-0
Terron Ward: 7-33
Malcolm Agnew: 7-29
Storm Woods: 6-29-1
Brandin Cooks: 2-21
Jovan Stevenson: 5-8
Ryan McCants: 2-5
Clayton York: 1-1
Cody Vaz: 2-(-4)
Jack Lomax: 1-(-6)
Brandin Cooks: 4-90
Geno Munoz: 3-44
Darrell Catchings: 3-41
Kevin Cummings: 5-35
Mitch Singler: 3-28
Obum Gwacham: 1-19-1
Malcolm Agnew: 2-13
Richard Mullaney: 1-10-1
Danny Evans: 1-10
Garett Hall: 1-4
Jovan Stevenson: 2-(-1)
Storm Woods: 1-(-1)
Trevor Romaine: 3-3 (Good 39, 43, 34)
Max Johnson: 0-1 (Missed 21)