THE O-LINE WAS looking good Friday -- as good as a unit can without full pads and contact -- and in more ways than one. Andy Levitre, Adam Speer, Mike Remmers and Gregg Peat were all sporting Mohawks.
Coach Mike Cavanaugh, who was not similarly coiffed, was heard all over the field encouraging the big guys to do it the right way. During the first set of reps for the offense with the line in place, Lyle Moevao was the No. 1 QB, with Brady Camp and Howard Croom as the starting tight ends.
| An inside look at more of the action|
Skelly drill |
The modified skelly started with no d-line, just the line backers and the secondary on defense, with the o-line in there presumably to work on timing and adjust to the new play clock rules for this season. Lyle Moevao took the first set of reps, completing some really nice passes to Sammie Stroughter.
Stroughter got helped to the ground by Al Afalava on one play, with Afalava picking him up and apologizing afterwards -- everything seemed to be going in a smooth and sporting way on the field Friday. Jeremy Francis had a nice run in the drill. Morales also caught a nice ball, but Moevao later missed him by a wide margin on a long pass.
Sean Canfield started with a nice completion to Casey Kjos but ended up throwing a pick to Austin Hall -- it looked like a clear miscommunication on the play. And so Hall ended up with the first pick of the fall camp. Canfield came back with completions to Damola Adeniji and Keynan Parker.
Moevao on his second set of reps started by completing a couple of passes to Sammie Stroughter against tight coverage from Tim Clark. All in all, the offense came out on top.
The session with the lines in place was an entirely different story.
DE Slade Norris made things difficult for the offense, forcing negative yardage on the first couple of plays. The No. 1 defense dominated the drill against the first team O.
The story was no different with Sean Canfield nor Ryan Katz under the center -- the offense managed to just get back to the line of scrimmage. And the defense seemed really pumped at this point.
Finally, the offense broke through a bit and it was Sammie Stroughter who did the honors -- he made a nice move on Al Afalava and made the catch. Afalava was none too pleased but it was simply a nice throw by Moevao. And Moevao later hit tight ends Howard Croom and Brady Camp for a couple of completions.
But just when the offense seemed to get going, Greg Laybourn picked off Moevao on a pass intended for Darrell Catchings. Laybourn dove full length on the play, and it was one heck of a grab. His fellow defensive teammates rushed to pick him up and give him a pat on the back afterwards.
Canfield got another set of reps but didn’t get many good completions, mostly because of the defense. Moevao did a nice job of running interference on a James Rodgers run. Later, WR Shane Morales just missed hauling in what would have been a long completion.On the play, he ran a nice route and went really high in the air to make the catch, but just couldn’t hold on.
Stroughter was there to pick him up and encouraged him to catch it, having done all the good work. Morales acknowledged by hitting himself on the chest.
Play of the day
Greg Laybourn interception of Lyle Moevao, a full extension dive to pick off the pass.
Lyle Moevao looked confident and ready to lead the team. His play, and the vibe he gives out, clearly makes him the starter of this team if the season were to begin today. But Sean Canfield also looked good for a guy coming back from surgery. Ryan Katz had a nice day. The best story of the day on offense was probably the running backs -- there's a lot of power and speed in that group.
Defense dominated the 11-on-11 drills -- it will be interesting to see if that’s the case with pads on. All in all, a very positive first day on the field, with incoming freshmen making some good plays, and clearly led by the seniors on the team. Coach Mike Riley seemed quite happy with the way the first practice turned out. It will be really interesting to see who all ends up as the leaders on defense with seven starters being replaced.
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Ryan McCants was the first team running back, while Sammie Stroughter and Darrell Catchings lined up at receiver. Stroughter looked very cheerful indeed on Friday, and was encouraging everyone throughout the whole practice session.
Sean Canfield went in next at quarterback, and he was followed by Ryan Katz. Moevao, just like in the spring, looked confident and gave off the clear vibes of a starter. He's also trimmed up considerably since last year. All the QBs looked sharp in the drill.
Now a graduate assistant, Ryan Gunderson was with the QBs, doing various motions without throwing the ball.
Ryan Katz’s relatively modest size (6-1) for a quarterback is what might catch your eye at first when you consider the freshman. But the size of his arm tosses away any doubt he can throw the long ball -- and he let a few fly Friday. Kaulin Krebs and Justin Engstrom, who looks to be the No. 3 QB for the opener at camp's outset, also got some turns in.
LOOKING AT THE running backs on the day, one word came to mind. Impressive.
Ryan McCants, who some have referred to as; ‘Steven Jackson 2’, does bear a resemblance to him, save for the dreadlocks. More importantly, on the field, McCants looked stronger and faster from when seen last on the field this spring.
Jeremy Francis looked strong and fast as well, and has seemingly healed up nicely from spring ball when he got dinged up. The running backs at one point worked on their pass catching on Friday, and Francis looked particularly adept in that area. He has a good pair of hands to go with some speed -- the Beaver Nation might be in for a real treat this year from our running backs.
Joining those two was the much anticipated freshman, Jacquizz Rodgers.
Rodgers spent a prep career baffling opponents who thought they could contain the 5-7 back. On his first practice day in college, he looked really fast on his feet -- especially turning corners. He also looked good catching the ball.
Yes, it's early. But the beginnings were evident even on the first day -- this could very well be one of the best and most complete groups of running backs seen in Corvallis in quite some time.
THIS REPORTER CONCENTRATED mostly on the offense on Friday and it was difficult to tell who was practicing on the other side of the field in the secondary. However, Tim Clark did stand out in the group consisting of James Dockery, Brandon Hughes, Brandon Hardin, David Ross, Keenan Lewis and Patrick Henderson.
Those DBs were very boisterous throughout the entire practice. The linebackers were on and off the field, taking practice sessions inside the facility in turns.
THE TIGHT ENDS practiced with the QBs and had a rusty start. Both got things in order within a few reps.
Wide receivers soon joined the gathering and made some good grabs. Shane Morales looked good along with Aaron Nichols, Darrell Catchings, Damola Adeniji and Jordan Bishop.
Bishop drew some attention with some nice catches today, the true frosh was at one time a grayshirt candidate but the coaches decided to bring him in.
James Rodgers was his usual productive self and freshman Geno Munoz was not bad either, catching most everything that came his way. Chris Johnson, freshman Keynan Parker and Taylor Kavanaugh others in the mix. It will be interesting to see who Riley will redshirt out of the younger group.
THE OFFENSE DID some drilling with the No. 2 offensive line standing in for the d-line, working on the basics and the short passing game. In the far corner, the secondary at the same time were practicing on their breaks and getting a pick on a certain type of throw by a quarterback. In the drill, Tim Clark made a really spectacular one handed interception.
When the receivers and tight ends lined up with the QBs for a pass catching drill, after a handful of uneven reps, Riley huddled them together, and things seemed to improve dramatically from that point on.
Lyle Moevao to Chris Johnson was the best completion of the day and drew some cheers from the rest of their teammates.
AS FOR SPECIAL TEAMS, Justin Kahut attempted field goals from about 25 yards out on Friday. He made all of them, and looked really confident in his kicking.
Joining him was Matt Barker, who fared well overall but did hit the uprights on a couple of occasions. Barker seems to gather himself just before contact and puts a whole lot of force in to it. With the immediate height he gets, it's difficult to imagine him suffering many blocked attempts.
Taylor Kavanaugh, Casey Kjos and Johnny Hekker all held the ball for the kickers. Kavanaugh momentarily lost the grip on one occasion but recovered fast enough to complete the successful kick.
Kavanaugh tried his hand on kickoff returns with a couple of defensive people running at him in different directions. He made some really nice cuts, but somehow it felt like the element of acceleration was missing. Granted, it was the first day of camp and it wasn't full contact. The NCAA mandates each player have three practices before going full pads.
The return and kickoff teams also went through some of their blocking drills and schemes. Again, no pads, and there was no contact, but they looked good in the drills.
IT WAS A typical Oregon day weather wise at the Truax Center. It rained slightly in the morning and at around noon in the valley -- it stayed relatively cool throughout practice.
The Truax field was filled with noises of helmets colliding, the coach’s yelling and cheers, hoots and whistles from fellow teammates. The calendar may have just turned from July to August, but it felt like football.
Subscribers can listen to Mike Riley's post-practice comments on Moevao, Jeremy Perry, Canfield, how everyone but Simi Kuli was on the field Friday, how the first day went and more, here:
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