SPRING DAY 6: Beavs go full contact

CORVALLIS--Mike Riley opened it up Friday, allowing the Beavs their first full-contact scrimmaging of the spring. Among the storylines – an impressive d-line and pass rush, an unhappy o-line coach and a hard-to-tackle H-Back. Off the field, there was no change in the status of DE Matt LaGrone and with today the last day for him to register for classes at OSU, his departure becomes reality.

The hope had been that DE Matt LaGrone might change his mind at the eleventh hour, but it was not to be. His departure, in order to be closer to his wife and family, however, was eased somewhat by how the defensive ends – and entire d-line -- performed on Friday. But first things first..

Ryan Katz led the first string offense, alongside junior tailback Jacquizz Rodgers, his brother James Rodgers at flanker , sophomore split end Jordan Bishop and junior H-back Joe Halahuni.

Junior tailback Ryan McCants also saw time with the first string offense, but that is where the problems began for the Beaver run game up front. McCants took a handoff and was quickly taken down by a swarm of black jerseys. And offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh let the o-line have it.

"What are you doin?! WHAT ARE YOU DOIN?!" Cav yelled. "You making up your own stuff?!"

The always colorful and vocal Cavanaugh had a few other choice words for his players, unsuitable for publication. The line made up for it a few plays later, helping to produce a big gainer.

Katz hit a quick screen pass to Jordan Jenkins, and the sophomore running back exploded through the offensive line interference – some good blocking up front here -- and caught some downfield blocking as well from sophomore guard Colin Kelly and junior tackle Mike Remmers.

Still, the d-line clearly won the overall battle in the trenches, and defensive ends Gabe Miller and Taylor Henry had starring roles.

It's not unexpected for the defense to be ahead of the offense in spring drills or fall camp in the early stages, the offense usually takes some time to find their rhythm and nowhere is that more important than on the o-line. And the Beaver line is missing two starters in LT Michael Philipp (knee) and LG Grant Johnson (shoulder). But veterans like Mike Remmers haven't hit their stride yet and looked a bit out of sorts on Friday, and Cavanaugh, although well-loved by his players, isn't the most patient of coaches.

With some injuries up front, Timi Oshinowo and Wilder McAndrews are getting a chance to show what they can do this spring. Alas, for the o-line, they were also inconsistent on Friday, and struggled mightily at times in opening holes and gaining an advantage over their d-line adversaries.

LATER IN THE SCRIMMAGE, Katz delivered a spot-on pass to sophomore wide receiver Markus Wheaton, who jumped lightly, caught the ball mid-stride and got out of bounds for a big play.

Wheaton's athletic ability becomes more and more apparent every practice that goes by, with Mike Riley commenting after practice that he will be a key component of the '10 Beaver offense due to his precision route running.

IT WASN'T ALL golden for Katz on the afternoon, however. On one particular play, the offensive line collapsed, and the pocket closed quickly around the sophomore quarterback.

While Katz would have been eaten alive had this been a true game situation, he had the chance to deliver a pass in the controlled scrimmage. He chose poorly, delivering a way-too-late pass across the middle intended for Halahuni.

Katz did not see senior linebacker Keo Camat manning the middle, the pass was delivered right into the linebacker's hands and he made a clean pick.

Speaking of Halahuni – you want to talk about a guy playing in BEAST MODE?

On a Katz screen across the middle, the junior H-back reeled the pass in, turned and sprinted upfield, made one defender miss…. And then he went to work on ‘em.

Halahuni could only be brought down on the play by the quartet of Tony Wilson, James Dockery, Kevin Unga and Castro Masianai. You read correctly, it took four Beavers to bring him to the turf and by that time, it was a double digit gain downfield.

QUIZZ IS OFF-LIMITS from full contact (Riley customarily keeps his starting running backs, as he did with Yvenson Bernard) out of scrimmaging, but the Beavs did run a play that involved Quizz and his brother, James Rodgers, and it resulted in a big gain.

We won't describe it, not going to give away any state secrets here, except to say it was executed well and one of the two Rodgers Bros. left a pair of would-be tacklers clutching at air. Good stuff, and we'd imagine you'll see some of it Saturdays this fall.

THE D-LINE WAS a big story today – and when it came time for the second and third stringers to come onto the field, the defensive line did a even better job of blowing up the offensive line than the first stringers.

Freshman John Braun and sophomore Andrew Seumalo bested the tackles and spent a good duration of their playing time in the backfield disrupting plays.

Meanwhile, sophomore linebacker Zane Norris turned in what very well could have been the hit of the day on freshman wide receiver Kevin Cummings.

While Cummings saw the Cody Vaz pass right into his hands, he didn't see Norris waiting for him as he turned his head upfield to make the play. Norris laid into the youngster clean, laying the wide receiver out.

Cummings is a tough customer, however. He took two more big hits from defenders, including one from junior safety Suaesi Tuimaunei, but popped right back up each time.

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