DAY 13: Beaver secondary turns larcenous

CORVALLIS -- The Beavers held the last of the spring's three NCAA mandated pad-less practices on Monday but Oregon State's defensive backfield was making noise aplenty inside Truax with seven, yes count ‘em seven, interceptions. Meanwhile over on the defensive line, Stephen Paea, Taylor Henry and Kevin Frahm turned in some gab bustin' moves.

Mike Riley sent the Beavs indoors just an hour into practice with the skies darkening outside, but it didn't do much to brighten their fortunes on offense. It wasn't a sharp day for the Beav O.

Quarterbacks Ryan Katz, Peter Lalich and Cody Vaz all threw interceptions during the session. Katz was picked off twice by Lance Mitchell on subsequent plays, the last coming on a Hail Mary pass to the end zone.

The junior safety and the rest of the secondary had a tight lock on split end Jordan Bishop down the sideline, but Katz did not see Mitchell waiting in the wings. The sophomore quarterback delivered a bullet right as Bishop broke his route and Mitchell was there to intercept the pass.

Lalich, in the ‘red ball' drill, found no avenue of escape out of the pocket on one particular play in which, had it been live, the defensive line would have swallowed him alive. With the play allowed to continue, Lalich zipped it across the middle and right into the hands of a waiting Anthony Watkins. The sophomore safety had to move about an inch to the left to intercept the pass.

A couple of plays later Lalich tried a Hail Mary pass of his own but lots of black jerseys were surrounding John Reese. The big senior h-back went up for the pass but it was batted back up in the air and into the hands of freshman cornerback Rashaad Reynolds.

IN THIRD DOWN SKELLY, Katz turned his day around slightly and made some superb throws.

On one particular play, Katz hooked up with sophomore receiver Markus when sophomore linebacker Devin Unga had his back turned to the quarterback. The moment Wheaton broke his route, Katz delivered a pass that sailed right past Unga and into Wheaton's hands.

The window Katz had to throw through was miniscule, and one that few collegiate quarterbacks can pry open.

VAZ THEN TURNED around and did his best Katz impression a few plays later, throwing into traffic through another tiny window.

Linebackers Michael Doctor and Zane Norris had great coverage on split end Geno Munoz, but the pass was just out of reach of the two defenders and into Munoz' bread basket.

A couple of plays later, a nice display of awareness and teamwork by the defense.

Darrell Catchings made a catch but Devin Unga was there to give him a pop, jarring the ball from the receiver's hands. Junior linebacker Dwight Roberson had the presence of mind to dive at the ball, reeling it in for the interception as he fell to the ground.

THE PLAY OF the day came during the final team session of the afternoon.

Senior flanker James Rodgers, with tight coverage applied by Cameron Collins, was able to just eke out in front of junior safety. With Collins' back to the offense and the pass from Katz incoming, Rodgers had to leap into the air and twist his body mid-air and over the defender.


The grab drew hollers from both the sidelines and the field of play.

JUST PRIOR, there was some drilling by the lines. Junior defensive end-turned-tackle Kevin Frahm took a spot with the first string this afternoon and teamed up with Stephen Paea and Taylor Henry to give Mike Cavanaugh's o-line fits.

The three gap busters flew through the line almost at will, and it's worth wondering if they'll be able to produce similar results this season against Pac-10 foes. If so, last season's d-line statistical drop-off, when the Beavs were able to muster a mere 17 sacks, will rapidly become a distant memory.

Oregon State has one more practice on Wednesday before the Spring Game on Saturday wraps up the 15-practice spring session.

Colorado head coach and Mike Riley friend Dan Hawkins was in attendance this afternoon, picking up tips and pointers from the Beavs. College coaches regularly visit other schools and NFL programs during the spring and summer months in an effort to pick up new schemes and packages.

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