DAY 14: Gearing up for Saturday spring game

CORVALLIS – In the penultimate spring practice, before Oregon State takes the field for their annual Spring Game on Saturday, the defensive line was taking care of business. And the linebacking corps got in on the act, too. Meanwhile, an offensive lineman has done such good work this spring, it could have a ripple effect.

Wilder McAndrews has done a bang-up job this spring, o-line coach Mike Cavanaugh told the Register Guard. So much so, the Beavs are considering when fall camp gets underway moving Michael Philipp inside to guard and starting McAndrews at tackle.

Philipp has been out most of the spring after tweaking a knee. Because Philipp is so versatile, he could play the guard spot whereas McAndrews' best spot is definitely at tackle.

If it comes down to getting the best five on the field, Philipp could move inside, says Cavanaugh.

Whether this has real legs, or whether Philipp lines up at left tackle as many expect, that remains to be worked out in fall camp. Grant Johnson has been out this spring following shoulder surgery and is listed atop the depth chart at left guard.

MEANWHILE OUT ON the field Wednesday, quarterbacks Ryan Katz and Peter Lalich were mostly inconsistent on a day where rain came down in buckets at times. And the pass rush was only slightly less torrential.

In just three days the Beavers head into Reser to face each other, but the offense has a few kinks to work out before things look as good again as they did in the last official scrimmage.

IN THE FIRST skelly session Katz makes a great read and targeted Markus Wheaton, who was running a great route. Katz delivered the pass right as Wheaton came out of his break -- but safety Cameron Collins was there to wrap up the split end and force an incompletion.

The next play, Katz delivered a bullet for James Rodgers, but the ball skipped about a foot in front of the receiver for an incompletion. Then Cody Vaz threw a bit too far in front of an open Joe Halahuni -- the pass skips off the h-back's hands and to the ground.

Lalich, with the second string offense, made a good looking pump fake, and spied Jordan Bishop streaking downfield. But he threw into triple coverage and Anthony Watkins put his mitts on it and picked it off.

THE FIRST TEAM session of the afternoon was dominated by the defensive line and the linebacking corps.

On one particular play the d-line surged across the line of scrimmage, allowing senior linebacker Keo Camat to burst through and drop sophomore running back Jovan Stevenson for a loss.

A couple of plays later, it looked like Déjà vu all over again but, with the pocket collapsing around him, Lalich delivered a bullet just in time to senior h-back John Reese for a big completion down the sideline. A second later and Lalich would have been swallowed alive had the play been live.

WITH THE FIRST stringers back on the field, senior linebacker Dwight Roberson had no trouble bursting through the offensive line to get into Katz' face.

The sophomore quarterback would have gone down like a sack of hammers had quarterbacks not been off-limits, but as it is in spring ball, the QB was given a couple of extra seconds to get the pass off.

BUT THE OFFENSE turned things around in the second session of skelly.

Katz made a great play-action fake to Quizz, then dropped a prefect ball in between defensive backs Brandon Hardin and Suaesi Tuimaunei and into the hands of Markus Wheaton, who made the grab falling to the ground. The completion was good for about 20 yards.

Katz was fortunate a few plays later, however, throwing a pass intended for Bishop that safety Lance Mitchell had a bead on. Mitchell was on Wheaton's tail the entire route and jumped in as the ball arrived, but was unable to intercept the pass.

LALICH HAD A nice play later, showing his athleticism on a rollout and throwing back across his body to Darrell Catchings for a good gain.

The next couple of plays were not as pretty however, as a pass to Aaron Nichols was thrown too far behind the receiver. Then, the defense turned in a snazzy play of their own. Lalich stood in the pocket and delivered what looked like it was going to be a great medium range completion, but sophomore defensive end Andrew Seumalo was there to jump up and bat the pass away.

THE OFFENSE then moved near the North end zone to work on redzone skelly. Katz was looking for Wheaton in the end zone and the pass was nice, the timing was good, but Lance Mitchell had other ideas as he leapt forward to snag an interception.

Mitchell has turned the heat up in the secondary of late -- that was his fourth interception just this week.

Lalich tried to force one off a play action fake, throwing into coverage. Safety Suaesi Tuimaunei seemingly did not have to move and easily made the pick. The usually reliable Halahuni had two passes thrown right into his big mitts, but the passes bounced off both times and to the ground.

NOTABLE NOTE:
A bright spot -- outside linebacker Keith Pankey is no longer wearing a walking boot and was seen gingerly walking up and down the Reser stairs testing out his surgically repaired Achilles tendon. While the junior linebacker is not expected to be back until at least fall camp, it was good to see him out of his boot and walking around.


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