True freshmen move closer to starting spots
Agnew, Cooks shine in OSU scrimmage session
CORVALLIS - Observations following Oregon State's scrimmage session Tuesday at Reser Stadium ...
• Malcolm Agnew moved closer to earning the starting nod at tailback in OSU's season opener at home Sept. 3 against Sacramento State.
The 5-8, 190-pound true freshman from St. Louis took his snaps with the first string, gaining 29 yards on seven carries.
Coach Mike Riley was asked what could be read into Agnew's starting role in the scrimmage.
'It's not a done deal yet,' Riley said. 'You can read into that he's impressed everybody and is doing real well. He is in the running to be our running back, or part of our group of runnings backs who will play in the game.'
• The order of tailbacks used Tuesday: Agnew; true freshman Storm Woods (6 carries, 29 yards, 1 TD); sophomore Jovan Stevenson (5 carries, 8 yards), true freshman Terron Ward (7 carries, 33 yards), senior Ryan McCants (2 carries, 5 yards).
Woods is a likely redshirt. Redshirt freshman Malcolm Marable, who started training camp at tailback, has been moved to cornerback.
Junior Jordan Jenkins, who has been limited to no contact following offseason shoulder surgery, has a doctor's appointment Thursday.
'Jordan might get cleared for full duty,' Riley said. 'He should be ready for the first game.'
The Beavers could carry Agnew, Stevenson, Ward, McCants and Jenkins on their 70-man travel squad.
'All of them are involved in special teams,' Riley said.
• True freshman Brandin Cooks could be the starting flanker when OSU opens with Sacramento State.
The 5-9, 170-pound Stockton, Calif., native, who had been slowed the past week with a sprained ankle, caught four passes for 90 yards - including a 59-yarder - and got loose for 19 yards on a fly sweep during the scrimmage.
'He is poised,' Riley said. 'This is not overwhelming to him. He was a polished route-runner coming in. He's intelligent. he gets it. He's respectful of the other guys. He is a good learner. It's a pretty good deal.'
With James Rodgers still rehabbing and out for the opener, OSU's top four receiver combination will be Cooks, juniors Markus Wheaton and Jordan Bishop and redshirt freshman Obum Gwachum.
The 6-5, 215-pound Gwachum caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Katz on a fade route, jumping over the defending cornerback for the score.
• While receiver is a position of strength for the Beavers, Gwachum, Kevin Cummings and Geno Munoz all dropped potential touchdown passes thrown ably by backup QB Cody Vaz.
• Tight end has become a crisis position due to injury.
Starter Joe Halahuni, coming back from offseason shoulder surgery, will not be ready until at least the UCLA game on Sept. 24.
Redshirt freshmen Connor Hamlett and Tyler Perry each must serve a one-game suspension for minor-in-possession arrests - though not necessarily in the same game. Perry also sat out Tuesday's scrimmage with a sore knee.
During the scrimmage, true freshman Kellen Clute - a player OSU coaches hope to redshirt - went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
That leaves starter Colby Prince, fullbacks Clayton York and Tyler Anderson - who could fill in at H-back - and perhaps offensive tackle Grant Enger.
'It's a bad deal for the kid, and a horrible deal for the tight end position,' Riley said of Clute. 'We are so thin there, it's scary.'
Riley said either Hamlett or Perry will have to serve his suspension after the Sac State game.
'I have to protect our team by spreading it out a little bit,' he said.
• Several veterans sat out the scrimmage, including Wheaton and cornerback Jordan Poyer (except for returning kicks and punts), to avoid injuries. Others were sidelined with minor injuries, including linebackers Cameron Collins, Rueben Robinson and D.J. Welch and defensive ends Rudolf Fifita and Dominic Glover.
Junior Shiloah Te'o, who started the scrimmmage at outside linebacker in the absence of Collins and Robinson, hobbled off early with an apparent leg injury and didn't return.
• Defensive tackle Kevin Frahm, who underwent knee surgery Monday, said he fully expects to be ready for the Wisconsin game on Sept. 10.
Collins, meanwhile, went through a full workout for the first time Monday but sat out Tuesday's scrimmage because of soreness. The senior outside linebacker underwent surgery five weeks ago for a lower abdominal tear.
'I don't want to take steps back,' Collins said. 'It's progressing. I think I'll be ready for the first game.'
• It appears sophomore Rashaad Reynolds will take injured Brandon Hardin's place as a starting cornerback opposite Poyer, with sophomore Sean Martin and junior Keynan Parker as the backups.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Murphy solidified his spot as the third safety behind starters Lance Mitchell and Anthony Watkins with strong play, and he returned an interception 35 yards.
'Ryan continues to do that, and it's exciting,' Riley said.
• The offense had its moments, but hurt its cause with two interceptions, four fumbles and a number of penalties.
'That's exactly how you lose games,' Riley said.
• True freshman place-kicker Trevor Romaine had his best day since camp began, effortlessly booting 3 of 3 field-goal attempts from 39, 43 and 34 yards.