Beaver D battles back, O's 2-min drill sings

CORVALLIS--A day off on Sunday for the Beavs looks to have been just the tonic. Several who sat out Saturday's session were padded up and back in action Monday -- Jeremy Francis, Slade Norris, Bryant Cornell, Aaron Nichols, Darrell Catchings and Casey Kjos all returned. So too was the defense seemingly energized from the brief respite. There's audio from Mike Riley and more, right after the jump.

You can listen to Oregon State head man Mike Riley talk post-practice about how much the Beavs will go offense against defense from this point on, Mitchel Hunt's return timetable and more, here:

Skelly started with Sammie Stroughter catching one in traffic. The linebackers and defensive backs forced Lyle Moevao to throw the ball away a couple of times when faced with tight coverage. Shane Morales got the offense back on track with a nice grab. Justin Engstrom worked on his touch, most of them gaining about 10-12 yards. Moevao came back with a deep one to Stroughter for a TD. The throw was spot on perfect -- the safety and corner had no chance of breaking it up.

11 vs. 11
Even though the first play resulted in a pass completion, Bryant Cornell would have easily sacked the quarterback had it been live action. Moevao then hit James Rodgers for a nice gainer. Keenan Lewis goes horizontal, breaking up a would-be catch on the diving deflection. Engstrom completed a pair of passes to Damola Adeniji and Gabe Miller but appeared to have been "sacked" on the next two plays. Both looked to arguably be coverage sacks where Engstrom didn't get rid off the ball in time.

Moevao tried to hit Sammie with another long pass, but it somehow bounces off the sure-handed Stroughter and into the waiting arms of Austin Hall, coming over from the safety spot to provide help -- nice hands and awareness by Hall. The pass might have been slightly deflected by Keenan Lewis causing it to bounce off Stroughter.

Stroughter pulls in a couple of catches, making it look easy. James Rodgers also joins him in making a nice grab. On the next play, with no one open in the pattern, Moevao tried to dump it off to a running back but Al Afalava knocks it down. Solid coverage by the defense on that play. Engstrom hit Rodgers but then missed an open Ryan McCants -- Engstrom has certainly come a long ways in camp, previous BF.C reports have noted his steady, vurtually day-by-day improvement. But on the non-attempt to McCants, he had locked in on another receiver who never got open. Coaches Riley and Danny Langsdorf were not happy with the decision-making process and reminded the young gun to scan the scene more than he had been doing.

Engstrom comes back strong and completes a pass to Howard Croom, putting it in only a place Croom could have caught it. Moevao connected with a speeding Darrell Catchings in stride and the he made some good yardage after the catch. James Rodgers and Croom also end up in the receiving column.

Two minute no huddle
No question, this was the best two-minute drill that this correspondent has seen the first-team offense execute all camp.

Shane Morales came up big -- three wonderful catches by this count. Chris Johnson, James Rodgers and Shane Morales all had big plays. Defensively, Brandon Hughes was the only one who made significant plays on D here.

For the second team, Engstrom failed to put a couple of passes in the proper place for the receiver and they would have likely resulted in short gains with the clock still running were it game action. Kyle Brown, Ryan McCants, Damola Adeniji and Shane Morales all had catches in the drill. Morales ended the session with another TD.

Offense only
The running backs worked on a number of things in the passing game while the wide receivers practiced their routes and adjustments -- the offense spent a large amount of time here. Riley was significantly involved with the offense on the day, with the receivers in particular, and going through plenty of refinement and working on the details. Some of the backups scrimmaged on the other end of the field with Kyle Brown pulling down making some amazing catches from Ryan Katz. Engstrom was continually reminded by the staff of the need to make quicker decisions.

Play of the day
Austin Hall's pick of Moevao. The defense has been losing the majority of battles to the offense of late and Hall converted when given the slightest of opportunities. Hall pounced after it and secured it right before it hit the ground. Nice concentration by Hall.

Special teams
Punting on Monday was about as average as it could be -- it wasn't bad, but no great shakes either. It would appear from this vantage point that John Hekker has all but won the starting job but nothing has been made official by Riley. Hekker seems to be taking a few more reps than Sean Sehnem and Ryan Allen and looks to have been the most consistent over the whole of camp. As a former starting QB in high school, he has athleticism plus a solid football knowledge from playing the most visible position on a football team.

On Monday, with the punters drilling with a defensive rush, a player recognized the unit was player short and immediately called time out. Riley reminded everyone about looking to the coaches for guidance there and not to think of that situation as an automatic time out -- it can sometimes be better to take a 5-yard loss in those circumstances than to burn a valuable TO.

Justin Kahut was back and kicking again after taking a few days off to rest a sore groin and it was a relief to see the starter back. He did have a rare miss, from about 37 yards out, but made his 42 yarder, splitting the uprights. He made the remainder of his kicks from shorter distances. Kahut has been just about as consistent as could be hoped for this camp following the graduation of former Beav kicker Alexis Serna. Interestingly, Sean Sehnem went with the second team on Monday. He made them all, but the longer attempts didn't clear the crossbar by much.

After a number of days of oppressive heat, heavy rains overnight forced the team to practice at Reser. It was very overcast and a slight but constant wind was stirring throughout the practice. The defense had more stops than recent days -- they're not back to where they were earlier in camp, like when they clearly won the battle in the firsts scrimmage, but they picked it back up a bit. The offense looked slightly rusty compared to recent performances. The o-line took a step down in their performance, too. The best part of the day for either squad was the execution in the 2 minute drill by the first team offense. Johnny Hekker looks to have moved significantly closer to winning the punting job.

  • Greg Laybourn sat out the Monday session.

  • James Rodgers will be the primary kickoff returner with CB Patrick Henderson joining him back deep, according to the Gazette Times on Monday night.

  • Mark Massari, who has been at Oregon State since 2002 and most recently served as the Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs, was named the new UC Santa Barbara Director of Athletics on Monday. In his time at Oregon State, Massari was involved in helping double marketing and sponsorship revenue, increasing the hours on regional television and radio while also negotiating satellite radio rights.

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