SPRING BALL DAY 2: Lalich & Wheaton connect

CORVALLIS -- Oregon State went indoors to Truax for the second straight practice and for reasons unbeknownst to everyone inside, the quarterbacks and receivers were on separate pages for a good part of the practice. Granted, it IS only the second day of spring practices, and that was just one of the many observations on the afternoon.

Sophomore tackle Michael Philipp sat out of today's practice with a minor knee injury.

"It's nothing serious," said head coach Mike Riley after practice.

But that gave numerous offensive linemen a chance to step up and open o-line coach Mike Cavanaugh's eyes.

In that group was sophomore Colin Kelly, whose versatility on the offensive line allowed him to slide up and down from guard to tackle and back again Wednesday.

Junior wide receiver Darrell Catchings was also on the "sitting-out" list this afternoon, as an irritated eye didn't allow him to wear his contacts and forced the split end to the sidelines. This gave sophomore Markus Wheaton an opportunity to show off his playmaking ability.

And Wheaton certainly took advantage, reeling in numerous acrobatic catches and displaying closing speed on passes that originally appeared to be just ahead of him and out of reach.

During the quarterback/wide receiver individual workouts, Mike Riley was less than pleased in the preliminary stages, directing the quarterbacks to add more loft to the ball.

Pass after pass nearly hit the ground before Riley seemed to have lost his patience (not really). "Timeout, timeout!!" the head coach yelled, before gathering the quarterbacks to give them a good coaching up.

The remainder of the drill seemed to go off without a hitch and a good majority of the passes sailed right into the hands of the receivers.

AFTER THE offense and defense were done installing schemes and formations of their own, the first skelly session of the year was thrown together.

While both the offense and defense had some trouble shaking off the rust that is the first couple days, one thing that had no rust whatsoever was James Dockery's mouth.

After nearly intercepting a Ryan Katz pass intended for Joe Halahuni, the junior cornerback barked at his fellow junior teammate, "Don't try that! Don't try that!"

Later on in practice the first team session of the spring was put into motion, with Katz running the first team offense.

One thing is obvious: Katz is a tremendous athlete. Not only does he have quite the arm, but a vast amount of athleticism. That was made abundantly clear on the delivery of a pass under tremendous "pressure" by the defensive line in the helmets and shorts session. (Shoulder pads go on Friday.)

With the pocket collapsing, Katz delivered a jump-pass right into the hands of senior h-back John Reese.

In the waning minutes, sophomore safety Dax Dilbeck made an athletic move to get in front of sophomore slotback Kevan Walker to intercept a Katz pass. Dilbeck would have taken the interception to the house had it been live.

More notes to take away from this afternoon's practice:

- While the quarterback competition could become one of the more heated races in recent Oregon State history one thing is clear: Katz is known for his rocket arm but senior Peter Lalich has one, too. During the three quarters speed scrimmage, Lalich made a play-action fake then found Wheaton 50 yards downfield, delivering a right-on-the-mark pass that fell into the split end's hands after outrunning the secondary.

- Lalich also displayed good athleticism and an ability to escape the pocket under heavy pass rush.

- You know who is an even better route-runner than he was last year? Split-end Geno Munoz. The sophomore ran crisp and clean routes for the duration of practice and was applauded by offensive coordinator Danny Langdorf for doing so.

- Maybe it's just getting back that touch, or maybe the receivers aren't quite in the swing of things, but whatever the reasons, Katz was burning the ball and receivers were unable to hang on Wednesday. This writer wouldn't be surprised to see that clear up on Friday and as the Beavs get into the rhythm of spring's M-W-F practices.

- A few familiar faces were on the sidelines this afternoon as OSU graduates Pernell Booth and Brandon Powers watched practice from the sidelines. Lyle Moevao's mom, Shelly, was also in attendance for the first time this spring, vocal as ever as she cheered on the Beavers.  Jeremy Perry was also on the sidelines again.

- Brian and Anthony Watkins returned to practice after missing Monday's session due to complications at an airport.


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