PRACTICE REPORT: Beavs 'labor' as PSU looms

CORVALLIS -- Monday was Labor Day, and the Beavs went to work at the Truax outdoor facility. Mike Riley ran his players through a full pad session though contact was limited. The rosters have expanded and the Beavs were joined by nine players. One familiar face, that of Al Afalava, will return to the starting lineup Saturday. And he started off the work week by making his presence known.

The nine who joined the Beavs on Monday were QB Brennan Sim, QB Zach Anderson, RB Josh Parish, WR Shawn McGarity, OL Nathan Hannah, OL Mike Lamb, DE Curtis Dodson, DE Matt LaGrone and LB Paul Jones.

THE OFFENSIVE LINE showed a lot of intensity on Monday. Maybe its because of the presence of coach Mike Cavanaugh, he's constantly urging his guys to get even the slightest mistake right.

It's practice and it's only Monday, but the black and orange hosses looked ready to take on the challenge that will be Penn State. Much of the pre-season hand wringing about the o-line, where injuries and some good performances meant two of its starters would be taking their first college snaps, was put to rest by their performance in the Stanford game -- though there certainly remains room for improvement.

But it's also worth mentioning they did what they did against Stanford despite losing two of the starters for a quarter each and during crucial times in the game.

THE BEAVS WORKED on some special teams Monday -- a few key plays from those units would really help the OSU cause on Saturday. Coach Dave Ungerer on Monday seemed fairly pleased on some of the coverage units.

Justin Kahut was solid with his kicks on Monday. If it comes down to a long field goal, he definitely looks confident.

The punting on Monday was a mixed bag. After getting one of his punts blocked at Stanford, and the other two being a little too close for comfort, John Hekker on Monday was working on his mechanics and trying to get off his boots faster. He did get some good punts off during the session, but more work probably remains before it would becomes seamless.


AL AFALAVA

  • The safeties, who were missing Al Afalava at Stanford, were working hard in drills, looking to make the right read in varying situations.

  • The offense as a whole showed a lot of intensity on Monday.

  • Sim had good touch on his first day of practice since the spring. Meanwhile, Sean Canfield was suited up and took snaps from centers but he was not throwing long. Mike Riley has said there might be more news on his progress from shoulder surgery later this week.

  • In the two-minute drill on Monday, the first team offense and defense went at each other. Shane Morales was, just like at Stanford, laying down some crisp routes.

    But Afalava made a nice pick of Lyle Moevao in the end zone. On the play, Afalava made a great read and picked the pass off in front of the receiver. The Beavs will certainly be glad to have back the hard hitting safety, both for his work in the back forty plus in run support.

    The second team offense had a rough start on their turn in the drill and Riley stepped in to have a talk with quarterback Justin Engstrom. The Beavs' No. 2 signal caller obliged by throwing a TD pass to Casey Kjos.

  • The offense and defense practiced for an hour with their respective scout teams, with the latter playing the role of the Penn State players.

  • As to the scout team highlights, QB Ryan Katz did find some success with a couple of nice throws to McGarity. Probably the best play of the day was a nice catch and run by Jordan Jenkins. Yes, it's too early to draw hard and fast conclusions on the youth, they haven't taken a snap in a college game. But in watching fall camp up through today's session, the incoming class looks awfully good to this correspondent and should provide Beaver fans optimism for the future.

    Summary
    The best news of the day certainly was the fact that all players who were expected to were suited up and participated in drills -- no significant injuries from the Stanford game.

    Dennis Christopher was playing some middle linebacker in today's practice. Of the starting 'backers, Keaton Kristick probably made the most noise today in the limited contact session.

    Kaulin Krebs has moved to the wide receiver spot, something that he was trying out the last week of the fall camp.

    There were also a handful of interceptions on long passes by both Keenan Lewis and Tim Clark. The offense spent a good amount of work on their timing. And the running backs had a nice day.

    NOTABLE NOTE:
    Interestingly, the addition of Matt LaGrone makes six set of brothers on the Beavers' team. Yes, I said six. There are the Rodgers, Watkins, Pankey, Krebs, Norris and LaGrone brothers wearing the black and orange in '08.


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