FALL CAMP DAY 11: The battle up front

CORVALLIS -- Friday morning was cool, but the pads were poppin'. Lance Mitchell looked good, back running with the first team, Stephen Paea was a regular in the backfield -- and so was Kevin Frahm. Plus, a youngster out on the edge is really opening eyes.

The defense was upbeat during individual drills, shouting a collective "Waaa-hoooo!!" before d-coordinator Mark Banker started running them through their paces.

Defensive players in shorts included Sioeli Nau, Anthony Watkins, Kevin Unga, Brennan Olander, and Josh LaGrone. LaGrone had filled in well for the injured Mitchell at safety, but was on crutches for today's morning session.

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In The Trenches:
With the skilled players off running 1-on-1 drills in the red zone, the big guys went head to head again focusing solely on the run game.

Jacquizz Rodgers makes this drill all but impossible for defenders, with cutbacks that are apt to leave defensive players' undergarments on the field.

As with USC and other aggressive linebacking crews last season going against Quizz, the Beaver 'backers today often over pursued and Rodgers was able to find the cutback lane.

Still, good to see the aggressiveness, and hard to believe there's another back in the conference with equal ability to change direction. But also something to keep an eye on to be sure.

THE OLDER BROTHER of the Beaver safety Josh LaGrone, DE Matt LaGrone was spectacular off the edge today. A piece Thursday in the Oregonian mentioned the combination of speed and strength, both of which were on exhibit Friday from the 6-6 sun blocker.

LaGrone mixed up his technique quite well and was giving the opposing offensive tackle fits this morning. As Mike Riley mentioned in Wednesday's audio clip on BF.C, talent and depth is really beginning to form at the d-end position.

MEANWHILE ON THE inside, Kevin Frahm and Stephen Paea were both brutes in the trenches, showcasing their strength on multiple occasions and putting the offensive player on his heels -- something this writer is getting used to seeing from the two this camp.

Paea's not only strong, he has great rip technique. After engaging, he really gets underneath his blocker's center of gravity. Matched with his tremendous leg drive, once he's under you Paea must be held -- otherwise he's on track for a tackle for loss.

Frahm continues to give true freshman tackle Michael Philipp great competition off the edge. While Frahm does beat Philipp more often than not, it's getting Philipp ready for what's to come this season.

DEFENSIVE BACKS versus wide outs went well on both sides. Good coverage and numerous break-ups were matched by timely and accurate throws by quarterbacks and great caches by wideouts.

Tim Clark had great lock down coverage for the entirety of the drill, but was beaten once by Kevan Walker, who was hit perfectly in the back corner of the end zone over his shoulder. Not much Clark could do on such a spot on throw and catch.

ONE MORE NOTE on the d-line, Taylor Henry has looked fast off the edge and could see the field this year in Banker and d-line coach Joe Seumalo's rotation. Henry (6-1, 230) is aggressive and has a nose for the football.

With his speed around the edge and non-stop motor he's a great fit for the Beaver defensive scheme which has had players of his stature continually succeeded at the defensive end position.

Stay tuned, our second report will be up shortly

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