Beavs fast coming down the homestretch

CORVALLIS -- This felt a little more like October. Oh sure, the temperature was still up there. But it was drizzling in Reser Stadium, Lyle Moevao and Sammy Stroughter were in rhythm and Brandon Hughes was batting away would-be completions. Meanwhile, Mike Riley in the audio clip talks about Sean Canfield and whether he will be ready for the opener, and the "i" word was used.

You can listen to Oregon State head man Mike Riley talk post-practice on Sean Canfield, if Suaesi Tuimaunei is a lock to start for Al Afalava while the latter sits against Stanford and more, here:

The defense makes Lyle Moevao throw the ball away to start things off -- solid, tight coverage on the first play. Brandon Hughes knocks away a pass intended for Darrell Catchings. Moevao comes back with a sweet strike to Chris Johnson. Then he hooks up with Shane Morales for a TD -- Afalava had good coverage on the play but the throw was just about perfect, evading his outstretched hands. Justin Engstrom manages to complete passes to Taylor Kavanaugh and Casey Kjos. Kavanaugh's catch was a Polaroid moment, the wide receiver bisecting about three defenders on the play. On his second go-around, Moevao connects with James Rodgers and then Morales again for a big gainer.

Moevao has a good run here with completions to Shane Morales, James Rodgers and Chris Johnson. Engstrom didn't have as good a round, getting "sacked" once and had passes knocked down twice, one each by Tuimaunei and James Dockery. He completes one to Damola Adeniji. On Moevao's second time around, Jeremy Francis ran the wrong route and the play ends up in a sack -- the coaches were not happy and get on it straight away. They run the play again, this time with success. On his final pass attempt, Moevao hits James Rodgers for a TD.

Red zone skelly
Moevao misses Morales with Cameron Collins right in step. Moevao then throws a bullet pass to Sammie Stroughter for a touchdown. Again, it's hard not to feel a bit for Keenan Lewis -- absolutely nothing he could have done to defend that play. But Lewis can take solace in the praise Riley had for him and Brandon Hughes in the audio clip above.

Moevao hooks up with Darrell Catchings in stride, and he races on into the end zone -- nice placement and timing on the Moevao pass. Lewis makes a nice break up of a pass intended for Johnson, but Rodgers finishes it off with a TD.

Engstrom finds Casey Kjos with a TD pass on his first play. It looked to be a a blown assignment on D, with Kjos was all by himself -- but it was nice recognition by Engstrom. Tuimaunei, on the next play, had an interception for the taking after jumping in front of the receiver at precisely the right time. Alas, he couldn't hang on to it and was pretty upset with himself. Austin Hall makes a nice break up, and so does Dwight Roberson. Finally, Engstrom returns to the success column, hitting John Reese for a TD.

Two minute no huddle drill
The first team didn't approach the same lofty status as yesterday, when they had their best two-minute drill session of the camp, but they still managed to put together a good one.

Moevao hits Stroughter over the outstretched hands of Hughes. The corner was in good position, but just too good of a throw from Moevao. The lone dark spot was a fumble on the snap, a rare sight with Moevao under center this August. James Rodgers uncharacteristically drops a perfectly thrown TD pass. Rodgers was shaking his head for a long time after that one, unable to believe he didn't catch that one for six. Keenan Lewis lays out for a diving stop on the final play to avoid another TD. Justin Engstrom was slightly off on his throws but one of his better ones was to John Reese -- but it was knocked away by Lance Mitchell on a standout, last second defensive play.

The offense and defense took each half of the field and went against their respective scout teams. It's difficult to emphasize how good Ryan Katz looked on his throws. He probably throws the prettiest ball throw of any QBs on the roster right now, but can also show the telltale signs of a rookie. Still, his future decidedly bright at Oregon State. It's looking like Katz will travel with the Beavs for Stanford, and would be on red alert as the emergency No. 3 quarterback. Disaster would have to strike for Riley to burn his redshirt.

The group had a decent outing today. John Hekker seems to have all but officially gotten the nod, and rightfully so for his consistency in camp.

Justin Kahut put in some good boots, sending the pigskin to the goal line and the coverage team was doing nice work as well, meeting the returner before he got very far at all upfield. Interestingly, Kahut went for an onside kick once, trying to catch the return team by surprise. And the kicking team recovered it, thanks to some nice hands by one of the Beavers.

Another positive experience. Kahut and Ryan Allen both hitting the mark -- it looked like both connected on all their kick attempts in the drill. That was the best this correspondent has seen Allen kick all camp. Even though the coaches seem to have settled on James Rodgers and Patrick Henderson as the kickoff returners, Tim Clark is doing some nice work as well there and did so again on Monday.

Play of the day
Moevao's TD strike to Stroughter in red zone skelly. Lewis was in good coverage and had solid position, but Moevao had some mustard on the pass and Stroughter turns at the right instant to make the catch. Lewis did knock him down, but Stroughter also held onto the ball.

With the Beavs completing Day 17, there are only six more practices currently scheduled before the Stanford game. Rain and soggy fields at the Truax outdoor facility and some fall-like weather prompted Riley to take the practice to Reser Stadium on Tuesday. It was still warm, but it was drizzling on and off and it had a little something of an Oregon State football game day feel to it.

Beaver fans can feel heartened about how special teams performed Monday, though it's still been an up and down ST roller coaster this camp.

Moevao was really sharp passing the ball and looked ready to start the season today. Engstrom, on the other hand, had a relatively forgettable day, looking more like he did on the first day of camp and he didn't appear overly confident on several throws. But that's also been a rare sight this August for him -- he's been steadily improving since moving into the backup role. And Riley had nothing but praise for Engstrom after the so-so outing, saying; "I think he's doing very well..I've been very, very impressed with that young man."

Mitchell could turn out to be a good defensive player for the Beavs this fall, and he had another nice outing on Monday.

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