OFFENSE: Fall camp status report

FALL CAMP ENTERS its 16th day and the Beavs will hold their 21st practice on Monday. It's a good time to step back and a detailed look at each position group, with a heavy emphasis on the nine sessions this past week, and to put it all into context as Oregon State approaches their season opener on Aug. 28 at Stanford.

Note: Each unit is graded on a collective basis and not individually.

Quarterbacks, Grade: B
Lyle Moevao gets a higher grade individually for his work this past week but collectively, the unit gets a B. Moevao has received hardly any notice from the Pac-10 media who don't cover the Beavs and when there are mentions about an OSU quarterback, it's usually been about a slow to heal Sean Canfield. But Moevao has the full attention of the two groups that matter most -- his coaches and teammates. He's coming off a solid practice week, consistently hitting a fairly wide assortment of receivers, and not just Sammie Stroughter. He has shown more poise and maturity than last fall's camp, and his decision making on the field has been excellent. Moevao is trimmer this season and his mobility is improved and though his completion percentage was low in the formal scrimmage Thursday, it was still a solid outing.

One big difference this year -- his leadership. Moevao was a leader last year but he's made many more gains in this area and his teammates are responding to it. Justin Engstrom is slowly developing into a reliable backup -- He is not a starter yet, and if Canfield was healthy he would be the clear No. 2. But Engstrom has developed a good chemistry with his receivers and running backs and in a very short period of time. He has shown a knack for the TD pass and his improvement has been evident a day-to-day basis is apparent. Mike Riley has decided to go with Engstrom as the backup if Canfield cannot go and to keep the redshirt on Ryan Katz -- there are 10 days remaining but barring something unforeseen, all signs point to Engstrom as the No. 2 at Stanford. Engstrom does need to put more zip on some passes, like Moevao, and avoid the "floater ball" that has occasionally allowed the defense to pick his pocket. Both QBs also need to improve on their deep ball, with slightly overthrown passes being the trend. In sum, very few passes from Moevao hit the ground this week.

Running backs, Grade: B+
They have gone from the best unit to the second best in just a week's time -- it has a little to do with Jeremy Francis not yet at full health, and a lot more to do with the performance of the wide receivers. Still, there is no holding back on how both Ryan McCants and Jacquizz Rodgers have been performing the last week. Both have accounted for a handful of touchdowns, with Quizz leading the way. Quizz is also slowly developed in to a good pass catcher and McCants could certainly be a factor in the passing game. Both are becoming more and more reliable here but they also have work to do before they can become an elite pass catching threat coming out of the backfield.

McCants is a power runner and he has long strides. He makes cuts not usually seen in a big back, and more than a few have made the defense mere spectators. Quizz has the attention of the coaches, he's a nice blocker and has a great feel for the game. He runs naturally and it's not out of the realm of possibility he could even get the start -- the coaches appear still undecided about who gets the start but it's also somewhat a non-issue -- both backs are expected to see plenty of turns no matter what. Francis was doing just fine until the injury bug bit. He is mostly working out on the side at practices but he should be ready for the opener from the looks of things. With full speed tackling in Thursday's scrimmage, the defense still found it difficult to catch up with both Quizz and McCants. If the offensive line can create a bit of space, Beaver fans will be treated to some long runs this year. And if the backs can picks up their blitzes and block for their QB, it could be quite an offense to watch this fall. Quizz does need to work on his ball security a little more, the defense has managed to strip him on occasion.

Wide receivers, Grade: A-
They have dethroned this past week the RBs as the top overall unit in the camp. This has nothing to do with under performing RBs and everything to do with some plain ol' lights out performances. Sammie Stroughter has been sterling throughout camp and now he's getting help from the rest of his crew. Chris Johnson saw a lot more action this week and he has taken full advantage of it, placing himself firmly on the radar of the coaches. Catchings saw limited action but looked quite good when he took the field. Taylor Kavanaugh is making more noise, but has not had a ton of reps with all the talent at the position. If an award was to be given out for consistency, it will probably be given to Shane Morales. He the runs crisp routes and blocks well down the field. He's solid.

The receivers have collectively stepped up their play this pase week and even backups are at times making plays on the first string defense. Damola Adeniji leads them with the most improved performance of the week. Coaches may have to find some turns for him, though he needs to work further on some of the "little things" that aren't so little, according to what Riley's indicated. Aaron Nichols has emerged a bit from a relatively non-existent first week of practice, while Kyle Brown has not had much of a serious impact to date. Blocking by the receivers has been a decided emphasis and the results are apparent. Two of the rushing touchdowns in the scrimmage were aided by great blocks by receivers. If they stay healthy, there could be an impressive rotation and without compromising talent at the receiving spot.

Tight ends, Grade: B
The tight ends were not a big part of the passing game this week by design as the coaches focused on other areas. And that also probably speaks to their confidence the group has earned from the staff for the grabmaster abilities And their blocking was apparent in the Beavs' touchdowns, medium and long distance runs during the scrimmage on Thursday. Howard Croom and Brady Camp are still this correspondent's top picks of the group but John Reese has been making more noise of late to stay in the picture.

Camp and Gabe Miller featured in the most passes caught during the last week of practice but any of the tight ends are well capable of making noise in the passing game. The unit continues to improve on their blocking and with Riley a guy who likes to run the ball, the improvement has been welcome.

Offensive line, Grade: B-
Clearly, this unit will be the x-factor this fall. The Beavs have some great playmakers on offense and quarterbacks that can deliver the ball but if the line doesn't do its job, much of that can also be rendered moot. But if o-line can buy some extra half-seconds for the QBs, they will find the receivers. And if can maintain their blocks just enough for the RBs, they will take some to the house.

Alex Linnenkohl has stepped up well in to Marcus Henderson's shoes this last week, a surprise to many, but he seems to have turned a corner. Henderson might be out for the season opener, but Linnenkohl looks to have has seriously challenged Henderson for when he returns -- and it's primarily through his hard work and diligence. Wilder McAndrews was back on the field with a broken thumb casted recently and seems ready for action. The right guard spot is probably still open even though Mike Remmers has been getting most reps there. Andy Levitre is the bell cow here and has had a great camp. Bit collectively, there have been the times they have failed to stem the defensive rush and a play would have resulted in a sack had it been live. And it's happened too many times for the coaches' comfort. Still, they're improved, definitely, from the previous week and the TEs have been a great help in the blocking department.


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