The Beavers took to Reser Stadium for their nightcap down in Corvallis Monday evening. Dressed in just shells meant that contact would be at a minimum, especially with so many Beavers on the sidelines sitting due to a wide array of injuries.
One player who looked very sharp was Cody Vaz. Vaz, who had sat out a majority of last week’s practices due to back tightness, looked the sharpest I’ve ever seen him. His throws had a lot of zip and he threw several pretty deep balls that his receivers hauled in for long gains. If he’s going to throw the ball all over the place like that, give him a couple days off a week!
In all honesty, all three of the quarterbacks looked very sharp tonight as Ryan Katz and Sean Mannion had strong evenings throwing the ball. Despite throwing into a fairly strong breeze coming in from the Valley endzone, Katz and Mannion had no issue with spinning the ball.
The pace of practice was also impressive as Coach Riley has changed things up a bit this fall camp. Immediately following individual drills, the team jumps directly into a game-like simulation session. Tonight was no different. In doing this, Coach Riley has stated that it not only allows for both units to get more reps, as one unit is taking its’ rep, the next unit is huddled up getting their play ready, it speeds practice up while also working on the teams’ overall conditioning..
FEATURED POSITION OVERVIEW
Tonight’s featured position was the defensive line. The unit as a whole is riddled with injuries and question marks. Tonight Brandon Bennett, Blake Harrah, Desmond Collins and Rudolf Fifita all sat out with various injuries. With the exception of Harrah, all seemed to be moving around well so they should not be out for a prolonged amount of time. DT Fred Thompson was lost for the season during spring ball which only further depletes the depth at the tackle position.
The biggest hit to the unit was the loss of their unquestioned leader Kevin Frahm. Frahm tore his meniscus last week during practice. The injury is believed to keep Frahm out for the next 2-4 weeks.
Despite the loss of several key cogs along the D-line, there are still a number of young players that are looking to make names for themselves this upcoming season. One of those is DE Scott Crichton.
Crichton arrived last fall needing to further develop his upper body strength, as he already had tree trunks for legs, and that is exactly what he has done. He definitely looks the part stepping onto the field, and plays that way as well. He has had some great battles with starting RT Colin Kelly in both 1v1 and team sessions.
Another interesting player along the line is Dominic Glover. With his academic issues it seems behind him, Glover is perhaps the Beaver’s most versatile d-lineman. After starting camp inside, tonight he was exclusively lined up at DE. He has the size, strength and quicks to be a difference maker at either position. He split time with Taylor Henry and the first unit. Mana Rosa and Rusty Fernando back up Crichton and Glover/Henry, respectively.
Making up the rest of the first unit was junior Castro Masaniai and senior walk-on Ben Motter. Both Masaniai and Motter are extremely big bodies, with Masaniai checking in at 6’2” 334 pounds, Motter at 6’5” 285 pounds.
When the two are in the game together, it makes it tough for any team to run the ball between the tackles. Rotating in and out with Masaniai and Motter was Andrew Seumalo and John Braun. Seumalo is definitely an adequate back-up who has really worked hard in the weight room during the off-season.
Hands down it was junior receiver Geno Munoz who was making the DBs look absolutely silly all night. Munoz had several deep catches (+40 yard bombs) with Ryan Handford draped all over him. He had 5 plays of +50 yards on the evening, as he abused Handford repeatedly and then beat safety Ryan Murphy for a long touchdown.
Munoz wasn’t down as he also corralled a couple errant passes, making acrobatic catches that made me do double takes as they were reminiscent of Jordan Bishop. I had to do a double take twice and number check just to make sure it was Munoz and that Bishop hadn’t changed jerseys on us all.
While Munoz will be hard pressed to break through the starting unit, he will be a valuable back-up this season it appears. He is familiar with all three receiver positions in the Beaver offense, which only further increases his value.
As I walked into practice, James Rodgers was back returning punts during the opening part of practice. Granted it wasn’t live coverage/return, it was still great to see James back there and it appears that the coaches still are counting on James to be a contributor on special teams at some point this season. My thoughts are earlier on rather than later. Rodgers, along with Joe Halahuni, participated in both skelly sessions tonight. He is so far ahead of schedule in his rehab; it is nothing short of remarkable… And he hasn’t lost that much of a step with his knee brace.
Cam Collins returned to full participation today, he doesn’t quite look at game speed yet. But for his first live action of the fall, he looked good. Give him a couple days to kick the rust off and he’ll be playing like the future NFL draft first day pick that he looks the part of. Collins ran with the 1st unit at OLB, with Rueben Robinson and Shaydon Akuna backing him up.
Michael Philipp spent the beginning portion of practice working with the 2nd unit at RT. Towards the end of practice; Philipp had been replaced by Derek Nielsen. I didn’t hear Cav get on Philipp, so I’m starting to lean more towards Philipp’s knee bothering him more than what is being reported.
Malcolm Agnew continues to remind me of a former Beaver running back great that wore the #35. On one play during the simulation team session, I could have sworn that Simonton was in the backfield as the offense lined up at the 17-yardline. He took a handoff to the right, got through the first level then bounced to the outside and outraced a safety to the pylon. It was eerie. Agnew could definitely play this year if needed, as he continues to look more the part with every practice. Terron Ward, Jordan Jenkins and Ryan McCants also received reps with the 1st unit this evening.