SCRIMMAGE 1: Katz, Beav Offense light it up

CORVALLIS -- The defense has mostly reigned this spring but the Oregon State offense was absolutely unconscious Friday in their first official scrimmage, complete with referees. Sophomore QB Ryan Katz made his case, orchestrating eight scoring drives, including five touchdown passes, en route to a huge afternoon for the sophomore. Junior running back Ryan McCants also made his own statement..

The Beavers afternoon started off much like the rest of the other practices in the previous two weeks, going from special teams to individual workouts and other positional drills. Before the scrimmage started all defensive units broke off to practice wrapping up, while the wide receivers practiced their run blocking.

The "middle" and "pressure" drills came next – as expected, the one thing that junior running back Jacquizz Rodgers participated in this afternoon.

Quizz' first rush of the drill saw him go untouched into the second level. "That's too easy! That's too easy!" Rodgers smiled as he bounced back into the huddle, smiling.

Quizz was shut down for the scrimmage, along with potential pre-season All-American Stephen Paea, as Riley is sticking to his customary plan of not risking injury to the duo.

IN THE FIRST attempt of the "pressure" drill, Ryan Katz took a play-action fake and found senior flanker James Rodgers deep down the sideline.

Rodgers, who was covered well by junior cornerback Brandon Hardin, displayed yet one more reason why he is so good at what he does. He looked over his shoulder and reeled in the pass with seeming ease. And then it was off to the races. Hardin has some wheels, too, but he did not catch him.

AS THE SCRIMMAGE got going, it looked for a moment like it would become an afternoon of defensive domination. The first play was a handoff to sophomore running back Jovan Stevenson. Juniors James Dockery and Dwight Roberson were quick into the backfield so slam the young tailback to the turf for a short loss.

The first Katz drive then ended in a Justin Kahut field goal from 36-yards out. Kahut was perfect on the afternoon, converting all three field goal attempts and all extra point attempts.

AND THEN KATZ started to get his swerve on.

On the second possession, he connected with sophomore Markus Wheaton in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. After the play action fake, Katz waited on his receiver to separate from Dockery, which took only an instant, and the Katz pass found its home.

The next possession for the first-string offense was more eye-opening than the first.

Katz displayed something the Oregon State offense has been without for years… a quarterback who can really tuck the ball and run.

All options were closed up, the secondary had his receivers on lock, so Katz did the only thing he could do, hold onto the ball and take off. Check and check, as the sophomore slid inside the 10 for a first down. A vast amount of athleticism on the play.

A COUPLE PLAYS LATER Katz made an impressive pass for score to senior H-back John Reese. With the pocket collapsing, Katz slid out and under pressure from the defensive line, he delivered the strike off his back foot.

It was not all solid gold for the first string offense on the afternoon, however.

A botched block by the offensive line drew the ire of coach Mike Cavanaugh, with much of his displeasure directed at senior guard Ryan Pohl. Sophomore guard Burke Ellis replaced Pohl on the first string offensive line for the rest of the scrimmage.

THE COMPETITION FOR Jacquizz Rodgers' backup just heated up a bit this afternoon. While Stevenson had a less-than-stellar afternoon, junior running back Ryan McCants stole the spotlight.

The hard-nosed runner was running with purpose this afternoon. McCants rushed for two touchdowns and nearly tacked on a third via the airwaves, but the ball was popped loose by linebacker Devin Unga before possession could be contained.

Speaking of Unga, the young linebacker had quite the afternoon.

Not only did he slap away the potential McCants touchdown reception, but the sophomore intercepted his first pass of the early spring session.

Junior quarterback Peter Lalich dropped back to pass and did not see Unga patrolling the lane. After Unga picked the ball out of the air with ease, he would have taken it back for six had it been a game situation.

NOTABLE NOTE:
Freshman linebacker Rueben Robinson sat out of the scrimmage with chest pains. Although it appeared to be nothing serious, Robinson stood on the sidelines for the duration. Mike Riley speculated after practice that the injury may have been suffered during tackling drills early on in practice.


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