DAY 5: Beavs go full contact

CORVALLIS -- The fifth day of practice in this fall session meant one thing that has been lacking so far -- full pads, and that meant as close to game situations and full contact as you get. Aaron Nichols continues to reel ‘em in, Lance Mitchell had a great day in turning the tables on QB-1 and more.

With the first week of fall camp nearing an end, there were snaps aplenty to go around -- and a few more new faces made cameo appearances with the first string defense Friday afternoon.

Freshman Michael Doctor and sophomore Zane Norris filled in for Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey respectively at the WIL and SAM outside linebacker positions. The drive they participated in ended in cornerback Brandon Hardin getting in front of a Ryan Katz pass to bat it away from James Rodgers.

Cornerback Jordan Poyer and the brothers Unga also participated in first string defensive snaps.

WITH THE ROTATION going on in the secondary, at the safety positions the players were finding themselves hard pressed to stand out above one another, but junior Lance Mitchell stepped things up in Friday's practice.

The playmaking safety picked off not one, but two Katz passes, one a touchdown saving/drive ending pick that came in the end zone and another that came on a deep look down the sidelines.

Both interceptions looked like "right place, right time" situations, but it also happened to be Mitchell's sneaky ability to read the quarterback's eyes and jump the pass trajectories.

AS EACH PRACTICE goes by, it looks more and more like senior wide out Aaron Nichols is ready to play a big role this season.

Nichols has cemented himself as a big-time possession receiver, but his other receiver abilities are becoming more and more apparent.

One particular play during the first team session of the afternoon was clearly the play of the day. Katz threw a beautiful touch pass to the corner of the end zone -- but Nichols was concentrating perhaps a tad much on finishing his route.

He had no idea the ball was coming his way.

Near micro-seconds after his teammates yelled "ball, ball, ball!!" Nichols turned his head, snatched the ball out of the air as he fell to the grass in the back of the end zone. Touchdown.

WHILE THE MAIN threat on Oregon State's offense runs the pigskin from out of the backfield, Jacquizz Rodgers today showed some pretty nifty receiver skills. It's not a role unfamiliar to him – he caught a receiver like 78 receptions last year – second on the team behind brother James Rodgers.

On Friday, Quizz, all 5-7 of him, reeled in a pass from Katz against 6-foot-1 defensive back James Dockery.

Speaking of pass-catchers, Markus Wheaton (shoulder) returned to practice and looked to be moving well.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Friday afternoon's practice focused a lot on red zone offense, defense packages and playcalling, Saturday's morning practice will mark the start of daily doubles, and Mike Riley noted the Beavs will be working on more first-and-ten offensive situations.

  • WR Darrell Catchings (groin) and WR Geno Munoz (hamstring) both sat out the session.


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