SPRING GAME: Inside five top performances

THE STORYLINES FROM the Oregon State spring game were multiple and in some cases mildly surprising. Any list could have easily drilled down to include 10 -- the frontline linebackers and secondary had solid outings, for example -- but here are five of the more notable performances authored on Saturday in Corvallis, as the Beavers wrapped up the 15-practice spring ball session.

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Victor Butler: The defensive end has been steadily improving over the course of his career, from earning a few turns to becoming an effective third down rush presence to -- if Saturday was any indication -- what could be an honors candidate every down player.

Butler was mostly unblockable in the first half and finished with three tackles for loss. He was credited with 1 1/2 sacks but it felt like more given the untold number of hurries and backfield mayhem he was visiting upon the White offense. And the sack where he pretty much steamrolled Lyle Moevao, (it's a no-no in spring ball to hit the quarterback), got the entire defense jacked up.

His greatest asset is his speed but Butler also looks stronger than last year, and he showed a little more power to his game on Saturday. The TFL on McCants was a thing of beauty, where Butler was in the backfield almost quick enough to take the handoff. On the play, Butler's inside charge beat Wilder McAndrews and resulted in about a considerable loss of yardage.

Ryan McCants: The big back gained 57 yards on 16 carries and while the 3.56 ypc average wasn't a monster number, a number of things stood out about the 6-1, 236-pounder's afternoon and look to bode well for the future.


First, while he's a "power YAC back", (yards-after-carry) and will run plenty up the gut this year -- and have success doing it -- where McCants really seems to shine is when he stretches it to the edge, and to either side. Fans who have been hearing all spring about his ability to get the corner were treated to a few of those on Saturday.

McCants nearly broke it on one such play, tiptoeing down the sideline after getting outside, alas, momentum carried him out of bounds.

And McCants found good room running off the left side early. On another play, his initial progress was initially halted on third down and short but as he has done all spring, McCants continued forward, eventually picking up enough yardage to move the chains. McCants also had the lone rushing touchdown on the day.

James Rodgers: His bread and butter last season was running the fly sweep, and he'll certainly be a key part of the OSU running attack again this year, but the sophomore receiver is becoming a more complete player -- his pass catching, route running and blocking is improved and was on display Saturday.

Rogers led the Beavs with 96 yards on four catches. The signature grab was the touchdown but the other three were the kinds that help continue drives and move chains. And his seal block helped spring McCants when he ran outside the tackles (see McCants photo above).

But, yes, the TD grab was impressive.

On the play, Moevao hit Rodgers on an inside screen route. Rodgers turned on the jets, cutting one a dime and heading back to the outside, where he outran the defense to the house. The initial acceleration was just as much the story on the play as was his overall speed.


Justin Kahut: There may still be questions about who will be the Beavers' punter this season that won't get answered until fall camp but the Beavs found themselves a kicker on Saturday.

Kahut was clearly already the leading candidate but his 4-for-4 performance (43, 50, 55, 31) put an exclamation point on the deal. True, he was kicking with the wind on three of the boots but the breeze wasn't that much of a help.

And any day where a kicker drills a pair from 50, and all three attempts from beyond 40 yards, is a good day indeed.

Lyle Moevao: He passed for 226 yards on the day and it could have been more.

The Beaver quarterback wasn't razor sharp throughout, there were a few too many passes that were high and wide, but the starting o-line was missing some of it's starters and the offense did find a rhythm in the second half under Moevao's direction.

Moevao directed touchdown drives on consecutive possessions, the first keyed by grabs from Shane Morales and Sammie Stroughter. The second was a one-play drive, where Rodgers went turbo. But what doesn't show in the box score is that Moevao marched the Beavs down the field a third time.

Seemingly destined to cross the goal line again, the drive stalled instead as the defense rose up but not before Moevao had the offense moving at a good clip.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Defensive back James Dockery continued his pilfering ways on Saturday, reading the route and then deftly stepping in front of the receiver to make the pick. The 226 passing yards by Moevao belies the fact the front line secondary as a whole was rarely out of position on the day and locked up tight on the receivers in the back 40 of the defensive backfield.

  • Moevao's best pass of the day, arguably, was to Shane Morales, leading to the Beavs' first touchdown. The ball had to be perfectly placed by Moevao, and was, to Morales who made a nice grab in traffic. The reception gave the Beavers a first down at the 10-yard line early in the second half and the backstory was that it further shifted the momentum which was starting to swing towards the White team's offense.

  • Darrell Catchings only had one catch on the day but it was a nifty 15 yard grab came that kept momentum for the White team going in the second half. Chris Johnson on the same drive showed some wheels, cutting across the middle and turning an on-target, mid-range underneath route into a 17 yard gain and a first down.

    SPRING GAME STATS

    Rushing (No-Yds-TD)
    White: Ryan McCants, 16-57-1; James Rodgers, 3-12-0; Lyle Moevao, 2-(-13). Black: Patrick Fuller, 9-23-0; Jeff Sampson, 4-22-0; Justin Engstrom, 2-(-4); Ryan Katz, 2-(-5); Brennan Sim, 3-(-25).

    Passing (Att-Comp-Int-Yds-TD)
    White: Lyle Moevao, 30-13-0-226-1. Black: Ryan Katz, 9-2-1-6-0; Brennan Sim, 10-4-0-105-1; Justin Engstrom, 15-10-1-108-0; Zach Anderson, 2-2-0-10-0.

    Receiving (No-Yds-TD)
    White: James Rodgers, 4-96-1; Sammie Stroughter, 3-58-0; Chris Johnson, 3-32-0; Darrell Catchings, 1-15-0; Shane Morales, 1-12-0; Howard Croom, 1-8-0. Black: Casey Kjos, 4-46-0; John Reese, 4-19-0; Brady Camp, 3-41-0; Sam Oltman 3-39-0; Patrick Fuller, 3-4-0; Damola Adeniji, 1-76-1; Taylor Kavanaugh, 1-10-0.

    Tackles (U-A-Tot)
    White: Suaesi Tuimaunei, 2-4=6; Lance Mitchell, 3-1=4; Isaiah Cook, 2-2=4; David Pa'aluhi, 0-3=3; James Dockery, 0-3=3. Black: Bryant Cornell, 1-5=6; Al Afalava, 4-1=5; Greg Laybourn, 3-2=5; Victor Butler, 3-1=4; Bryan Payton, 2-2=4; Keaton Kristick, 0-4=4.

    Tackles-for-loss (No.-Yds)
    White: Brennan Olander, 2.5-15; Kevin Frahm, 2-7; Isaiah Cook, 2-2; Curtis Dodson, 1-10. Black: Victor Butler, 3-15; Bryant Cornell, 1-3.

    Sacks (No.-Yds)
    White: Brennan Olander, 2.5-15; Kevin Frahm, 1.5-7; Curtis Dodson, 1-10; Isaiah Cook, 1-1. Black: Victor Butler, 1.5-10; Bryant Cornell, .5-3.

    Interceptions (No.-Yds)
    White: Suaesi Tuimaunei, 1-3, James Dockery, 1-0.


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