DAY 18: The 2008 Beavs begin to take form

CORVALLIS--Lots of news coming out of Corvallis on Wednesday, with Mike Riley naming the starting offensive line, receivers and punter, plus a whole lot more. On the practice field, Brandon Hughes had himself a day and there's audio from Mike Riley.

Riley told the Oregonian, Gazette Times and other media on Wednesday the o-line starting five for Stanford would be Andy Levitre, Gregg Peat, Alex Linnenkohl, Adam Speer and Mike Remmers.

Wilder McAndrews backs up at tackle, Una Smiley and Ryan Pohl at guards. Riley said he still considers Jeremy Perry a possibility to play in the opener. C Marcus Henderson is not expected to be ready (illness) for the opener, and Linnenkohl has done a bang-up job in his absence.

Riley was non-committal on who would start for Al Afalava (one game suspension) at Stanford, saying Austin Hall and Suaesi Tuimaunei, as well as Cameron Collins and Lance Mitchell, remain in the mix. TE Howard Croom will get the first snap at Stanford but Brady Camp, Gabe Miller and John Reese should all see plenty of action.

Interestingly, Riley said James Rodgers and Shane Morales will split time in the slot. Rodgers moved inside this spring after last season manning an outside receiver position with Stroughter out. Darrell Catchings is the starting flanker while Chris Johnson is the No. 1 backup at both outside spots. The starting split end is Sammie Stroughter.

As expected, Johnny Hekker has won the punting job.

IT WAS POURING down rain in Corvallis and practice was taken indoors inside the Truax facility on Thursday -- amazing how they manage to fit all the units in simultaneously and still run crisp drills. Punting can be a problem without enough height for the big boomers, so the punters left the facility and practiced at Reser stadium.


Greg Laybourn was back padded up and ready to go. James Dockery sat out with a knee injury.

Subscribers can listen to Oregon State head man Mike Riley talk post-practice on the status of Dockery, a real special teams playmaker for the Beavs, and more, here:







Kicking
A definite plus Wednesday, as both Justin Kahut and Matt Barker were on. Each of them connected on their kicks really well and appeared they got all of their boots inside the uprights. It was smooth sailing for both the kickers.

Skelly
Lyle Moevao lofted a nice pass to Catchings to start things off but Brandon Hughes somehow managed to wrestle the ball away from Catchings at the very last instant. Hughes then pushes off slightly on Sammie Stroughter slightly off on a long pass attempt and the ball fell harmlessly to the turf -- don't know if Hughes would have drawn the flags from the officials on that play but it was good coverage from this chair.

Moevao and Stroughter work in tandem and are able to get one past Hughes for a nice gain. Justin Engstrom hit Aaron Nichols for a TD and it was an excellent throw by Engstrom. Stroughter and Johnson hauled in catches from Moevao on his second go-around.

Scrimmage
Jacquizz Rodgers rips off a great run, going untouched by the defense for a TD. But the defense stops cold the remainder of the running plays for the rest of the scrimmaging. Ben Terry, who has not enjoyed much time in the limelight in his first OSU fall camp, put together a good showing at the DE position here. making a great stop on Quizz and then beating the right guard for what would have been a sack had the quarterback been fair game.

Tight end Howard Croom runs a textbook route and found himself wide open downfield. Alas, he mistimed his jump on Moevao's throw or he would have had an easy run to the end zone. Stroughter makes up for the missed opportunity by creating a TD for himself on the very next play.

Red zone skelly
Moevao has had a solid connection with his receivers throughout camp and it continued Wednesday, throwing TD strikes to John Reese, Darrell Catchings and Ryan McCants in the red zone skeleton drills. Engstrom wasn't too far behind the Beavs' starter, with TD strikes of his own to Gabe Miller and Casey Kjos. Miller ran a beauty of a route to score the TD.

On defense, safeties Al Afalava and Suaesi Tuimaunei each had pass break ups in the secondary during the drill.

Hurry up
It was smooth sailing for the offense, with a couple of strikes from Moevao to James Rodgers and a good run by Quizz. Hughes then steps in front of the receiver and picks Moevao off -- great timing on the move and jump, and Hughes would most likely have taken it back all the way to the house. Morales came up strong again and had a couple of catches, one of them for a TD. Engstrom had a clearly better outing than yesterday, and throws a TD to Reese.

Two minute drill
The offense was asked by the coaches to "complete" their plays and conditions were in place to create a sense of urgency. Stroughter, Catchings and Johnson turned in some good plays on the first team offense. The second team also performed well, with Damola Adeniji, Kjos and a number of the tight ends involved. Isaiah Cook almost had a pick-six on the drive but couldn't hang on to the ball.

Two minute defense
The defense prepared for the hail mary pass but Austin Hall committed the cardinal sin of trying to pick the long pass in the end zone rather than knock it down. Sure enough, Catchings comes up huge, managing to deflect it up in the air where the offense still had a shot at it. Fortunately for the defense, Hughes ends up with it.

Specialty kicks
The special teams practiced defending onside attempts and short spike kicks. The coverage units were able to down the ball the majority of the time but there were also a couple of fumbles.

Refinement
The offense and defense spent another good 45 minutes with respective scout teams today, working out the kinks and sanding any rough edges off. The tight ends, a sticky fingered group, surprisingly had a couple of drops in the end zone. They got it right back on course, however, with subsequent completions.

Play of the day
The very first play of the skelly where Brandon Hughes snatched the ball away from the hands of Catchings. It probably would have gone for review to see whether Hughes had full possession when he stepped out of bounds but that was one heck of a play. Catchings looked puzzled afterwards as if trying to figure out how the heck Hughes did it.

Summary
The defense is slowly but steadily getting back on track, they had some nice stops on Wednesday. Hughes had a really nice outing today with a couple of picks and a number of other top shelf plays. Engstrom had a much better day than yesterday and he looked much more comfortable in the pocket. Terry started to make some noise, good news for the defensive line and the D as a whole. Riley confirmed the three true freshmen expected to play this year are Quizz, Hekker and long snapper Marcus Perry.



NOTABLE NOTE:
OSU and Chambers Communications/KEZI 9 of Eugene have entered into a new marketing and production partnership for the 2008-09 academic year. KEZI 9 and Chambers Productions will produce recruiting videos, coaches' interview shows (to air on FSN NW), highlights, special projects, and assist with enhanced videoboard features including acting as a consultant for all video production marketing efforts.


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