There were some tense moments for Oregon State football coach Mike Riley during Saturday’s practice, but the Beavers ended the first week of spring drills having accomplished plenty.
Riley harped on the details of blocking assignments during the 50-minute scrimmage session in Reser Stadium.
Riley decided early during the offense vs. defense part of practice to start the script of plays over to make sure players didn’t get lazy.
Not many plays have been introduced yet, but he wanted all of them executed correctly.
“We have to block right,” Riley said. “We have to get that down.”
Overall after the first three of 15 practices, the execution has been sound. Part of that was because the offense and defense have been mostly separated so they can figure out what to do without interference.
“It was a lot of good installation,” Riley said. “There was good execution throwing the football. We barely broke into the running game with the first day of pads (Saturday). Defensively, I like the speed and like the first four secondary guys.”
The passing game has come on quickly with returning starting receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks, and quarterback Sean Mannion.
Wheaton has taken his game to a higher level, Riley said. Riley is also impressed with the work of Obum Gwacham.
“As a starting point it’s a good place to be,” Mannion said. “We have three more weeks of this so we are going to keep improving. I feel really comfortable with our offense, but we have a lot of guys returning, which helps. We are sharp in our assignments right now and it’s showing.”
Riley plans to take it slow going into next week. He doesn’t want to overwhelm anyone early.
Then it will be on to specific situations, such as third down plays and the red zone, later next week.
“The first part of next week we’ll just review it,” Riley said. “The defense has three coverages in. We have a number of plays in and personnel groups in. We’ll get some repetitions early next week.”
Linemen lifting extra
Since there are only eight healthy offensive linemen this spring, the coaches don’t want to overwork them in scrimmage situations.
Riley altered the practice routine to help them. After all the position drills and an 11-on-11 scrimmage session, he sends the offensive and defensive linemen to lift weights.
Practice concludes with 7-on-7 passing drills. In the past they were alternated back-and-forth through the practice.
“They are getting plenty of practice, and the fact that the offensive line has eight guys, we do team work, then (7-on-7) work later,” Riley said. “Then they get a lift in. When you get to spring ball you don’t have time to lift. This gives them time to do it.”
Riley has been impressed with redshirt freshman receiver Richard Mullaney so far.
“He has great hands, great toughness, he’s a great route runner and he’s a good player,” he said.
Defensively, he likes outside linebackers Michael Doctor and D.J. Welch.
“You watch those guys,” Riley said. “They look athletic and fast.”
On special teams, punters Tim McMullen and Keith Kostol have been consistent all week.
Grad assistant changes
There has been a temporary shift in the graduate assistant situation before the group expands in the fall.
Mitch Meeuwsen and Trent Bray are in the two GA spots now. Bray coaches the linebackers and Meeuwsen helps defensive backs coach Rod Perry with the safeties.
The NCAA will allow for up to four GAs on the field Aug. 1. Alan Darlin, who was a GA last season, will be back and former offensive lineman Kyle DeVan will be the addition.