Nichols shines, Catchings takes MW under wing

CORVALLIS -- After a very brief individual period following 11-man drills, the Beavs again went 11-on-11. Darrell Catchings (wrist) is now out for the year and on Monday night, Markus Wheaton and Aaron Nichols ran quite a bit with the first team. Catchings, however, was anything but unengaged during the practice session. And Nichols, the sure-handed junior, made some noise.

Team Session No. 2:
Aaron Nichols had himself a tremendous day receiving, welcome news indeed in light of the injury body blow OSU received this evening.

The sure-handed junior is making his way up the depth chart and performing at a high level day in and day out. Great news for a receiving group that just lost for the '09 season Darrell Catchings, a starting WR who had put up some crazy receiving yardage in the spring and early on in fall camp.

Markus Wheaton on Monday was being coached up by Catchings tonight. And then some.

Catchings shadowed Wheaton all practice long and was in his ear even while the quarterback was in his cadence. Even with the guidance of Catchings, Wheaton lined up in the wrong spot on more than one occasion.

It's hardly fair to expect Wheaton to have everything down pat in his first week plus of practice -- making the leap from high school to college is a major adjustment. And Wheaton now also is likely to go from prepster to Pac-10 starter. If he doesn't catch on by late August there may be reason for concern but for now, there's time and he'll have lots of help.

And Wheaton has big play potential -- every single time he touches the pigskin.

As the evening wore on and the lights were turned on, the tempo picked up. Coaches were in midseason form, aggressively encouraging players with choice words.

It's the second week of fall camp, but the season looms near. Coaches know there's a long way to go to get everything installed and everyone on the same page.

As in the first 11-man segment, Philipp was featured at tackle and was throwing his weight around pretty well. Philipp did get beat around the edge a couple times, but mostly due to great speed by DE Matt LaGrone.

The pass protection is of concern for the big guy, but it looks like outside run plays could be his strong suit.

Philipp fires off the ball well and at 6-3, 315, he's a nightmare for whomever is in his way.

It took half of the practice for this writer to notice that Ryan Pohl was absent, perhaps a testament to the play of the o-line on Monday night.

Grant Johnson moved inside to left guard and split turns with redshirt freshman Collin Kelly. Johnson later came up gimpy and Kelly took over for the remainder of the drill.

The left side of the line remains a work in progress, quite often pressure came from said weak side.

Freshman RB Ashton Jefferson was running with the 2's, Jovan Stevenson was geared up but did not participate in team drills. Jefferson continues to struggle catching the ball but has good speed and natural instincts when the rock is tucked under his arm.

Jefferson took a draw late in the drill and jetted up the middle, untouched until about 25 yards downfield. A great burst shown by the true frosh.

7-on-7 Skelly:
With the linemen absent in this drill, the quarterbacks are able to get rid of the ball without any rush, or so you'd think. Canfield had a tough time, however, forced to eat the ball multiple times and spike the ball into the ground. He did not look pleased.

But, towards the end of the drill, Canfield found his stride and hit Casey Kjos on an out route. The ball was on the money and thrown with some steam. Kjos reeled it in and turned up the sideline, outrunning safety Suaesi Tuimaunei.

Ryan Katz continued to impress with his arm strength and added accuracy. Katz found Geno Munoz on the sideline amidst blanket coverage. Munoz went up high, fully extended, and came down with the ball.

Peter Lalich remains the No. 3 behind Canfield and Katz (with Lyle Moevao the injured 1A) and slowly seems to be picking the offense up better. After going through his progression and finding nothing, Lalich smartly threw the ball five yards out of bounds.

Lalich found tight end John Reese in the end zone towards the end of the drill, a well placed throw left no chance for the defender to break it up.

Team Session No. 3:
The intensity continued from the defensive front in the final team session.

On one occasion, Michael Philipp was bull rushed by Kevin Frahm and before Philpp quickly found himself in the lap of Sean Canfield. Tremendous strength exhibited by Frahm on the play.

Not much has been said about the right side of the o-line, and for all the right reasons.

The trio of Alex Linnenkohl, Greg Peat, and Mike Remmers have been solid all camp. Remmers was however beat badly around the edge by Gabe Miller on one play Monday night. In disgust, Remmers smacked himself upside the helmet.

It was a good day and better finish for the d-line. The tackles will need to improve their play and tighten up pass protection for this offense to grow. Pressure off the end and up the middle distracted the signal callers tonight -- and it showed.

Markus Wheaton had to be coached up on where to line up again in this drill. Even if on the proper side, Wheaton often was on the wrong side of the hash marks or didn't have enough spacing between himself and the other wideout. A lot is being thrown at the true freshman in the detail oriented Beaver offense.

Still, Canfield and Wheaton are working hard on forming the kind of relationship that is essential between a quarterback and his receiver. Tonight was a stepping stone, but the two were on completely different pages for the most part.

Check back a little later for our third report on tonight's practice.

BeaverBlitz Top Stories