Running back drills from Tuesday’s practice.
Starting middle linebacker for the Oregon State football team is so wide open that defensive coordinator Mark Banker said Tuesday that he would start true freshman Michael Bibbee, if he earns the spot.
That’s a long shot for the rookie, but that shows the concern the Beavers have about someone being the focal point of the defense.
It’s not that sophomores Tony Wilson, Rueben Robinson, Kevin Unga and senior Walker Vave are not working hard or know the defense, Banker wants someone to take charge to stop the running game.
“When we evaluate that position we need to see someone who can make the tackle and take the running back out of the game,” Banker said. “It’s a crucial position for us.”
Banker will be watching the team’s middle drills closely. That’s when the front seven on both sides of the ball go full contact with a ball carrier.
How those players perform in the Aug. 19 and 24 scrimmages will go a long way in deciding the starter.
Robinson has been going with the first string the first two practices with Wilson on the second team. Their positions were switched during spring practice.
“What we want to see in the run game is see someone go downhill and make a tackle of the running back on his own,” Banker said.
And if no one emerges?
“I feel good and confident someone will,” Banker said. “Someone has to. If it’s not out of those five we’ll take (starting outside linebacker) Dwight Roberson and get the next best outside linebacker (to fill his spot). We’ll do something, but those are the guys who are groomed for this.”
The specialists hanging out in the middle of practice.
Junior walk-on LB Paul Jones left the team, according to OSU. Junior LB Josh Parish and redshirt freshman C Aaron Magnuson, a West Albany High alum, rejoined the team. They were originally in the group of walk-ons who are added after school starts.
Two players on the roster have yet to practice due to being in the rehab stage of an injury. Sophomore OL Rory Ross is still out after a knee surgery and new walk on WR Danny Evans, a transfer from Arkansas Pine-Bluff, has a lower leg injury.
Here’s a link to my main story in Wednesday’s GT on OG Grant Johnson’s return from shoulder surgery. Here’s a link to the notebook with various items of interest. And here’s a men’s hoops story on the NCAA declaring F Eric Moreland eligible to play this season.
Special teams coordinator Bruce Read scouting for players at practice for his teams with coach Mike Riley.