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April 23, 2008

Rain won't dampen spring campaign

The inclement weather continued to haunt the Corvallis area on Wednesday, which led to the cancellation of the baseball team's game today. This event forced the defending national champions to share the Merrit Traux Center for the first half of practice with the OSU football team. Thankfully for Mike Riley and his team, progress was still made and the intensity level remained the same.

More depth is becoming evident at the wide receiver position, and the offensive line keeps on trucking without two of its starters practicing. There were still some blown coverage during drills, but players are making more plays as they get more repetitions. Overall, a solid day on both sides of the football. Here is what I witnessed with my two eyes today:

Potential starter Lyle Moevao had another interesting day passing the football, but concluded Wednesday's practice on a roll. He began the drills against the defense shaky, missing targets on deep and intermediate passes. As time went on, however, Moevao began to fire on all cylinders, and once again made some very nice passes.

A deep ball to senior wideout Sammie Stroughter was right on the money, and near the end, he connected four times in a row, three to Darrell Catchings. Brennan Sim was mediocre at best throwing the ball, but freshman signal caller Ryan Katz had one of his better days. Although he wasn't entirely accurate, he still managed to complete his first four passes against the defense.

With running back Jeremy Francis out still, Ryan McCants and Patrick Fuller got the majority of the carries today. McCants showed some impressive Yvenson Bernard-like moves by finding the right holes to run through, while Fuller had a few big runs to the outside.

The offensive line had its troubles though, mainly in pass protection, and had trouble blocking for the fly sweep with Mr. James Rodgers. They did, however, block very well as a group during goal line situations and for the run.

What I was impressed with the most today was how many wide receivers made plays today. Along with Stroughter, Shane Morales had an amazing catch in traffic, and Sam Oltman made numerous grabs. Chris Johnson had another strong day, making a very nice one-handed catch on a deep pass from Moevao.

Catchings started off by dropping a few passes but ended on fire, making three straight catches from Moevao in traffic. Stroughter provided a little comedy by giving a fan a hug after accidentally running into him while making a catch near the sidelines.

From the tight ends, Brady Camp had one of its best spring practices, making numerous catches and had some very nice blocks when the defense blitzed from the outside.

On the defensive side of the football, coverage was its main problem today, but got better as time went on. Victor Butler continued to get stronger and was in on a lot of plays, while linebackers Keith Pankey and Bryant Cornell were always around the football, quickly swarming to the pigskin. Casey Noack had another solid day, knocking down a few passes in coverage. The team had its moments of superiority, especially on the fly sweep when the group as a whole sniffed out the run.

Starter Brandon Hughes had hands down his best spring practice, deflecting a lot of passes and also adding an interception return for touchdown. Hopefully it's the beginning of what will be a good senior campaign in the fall.

Other guys that demonstrated they have been progressing were James Dockery, Brandon Hardin, Patrick Henderson, Tim Clark, and Greg Laybourn. Clark and Henderson both added interceptions, although Henderson still had trouble keeping his hands off of receivers, as flags would have been thrown if referees were on hand.

Did not notice any ex-Beavers in attendance other than Ryan Gunderson continuing to help out with the quarterbacks. See you Friday!


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