Building the DamNation, in our continuing effort to serve you in the best way possible, we bring you the finest practice reports money can't buy. We have searched and searched and driven from Portland to Corvallis a few times for your reading enjoyment.
James Rodgers photo STOLEN via this excellent gallery, which does NOT include any volleyball photos that you should look at at www.thenickelblock.com
Here is our summary of the entire week of practice reports... some highlights & our thoughts.
Many different formations were practiced Wednesday. The most interesting ones had WR James Rodgers as the tailback, which is something that was experimented with last season. And then there was the Rodgers-Rodgers backfield with Jacquizz and James.
If your memory is like my memory (if so, seek help!), then you recall that James ran from the tailback position (wasn't it?) straight up the gut for over 40 yards on one play...it was the closest thing to watching someone be shot from a slingshot as I've seen. The Ocho Loco was flying, and the only thing that stopped him from breaking a 70 yard score was a NOW ILLEGAL horsecollar tackle (with new penalty smell!). In my estimation, had this NOW ILLEGAL tackle not been perpetrated against El Crazy Eight, his national media exposure may have been double what it is this year. Sometimes leading your conference in yard per carry isn't enough to get publicity, and a 70 yard bumrush against the Trojans in the Coliseum is required to make you famous. Don't worry though, I'm pretty sure his lack of fame won't keep him out of the endzone this year.
3 punters were punting, Sean Sehnem, Johny Hekker, and Ryan Allen. Sehnem boomed some really good ones, but botched a few others. Hekker had some that were kind of long, but need more hang time. Allen's punt were high, but didn't travel far enough. None looked like a PAC-10 punter, but hopefully it was just first day jitters. A few other players showed some first day jitters - notably Sammie Stroughter (he dropped down a couple of times for push-ups; although he really picked up about an hour into the practice).
Well, this is to be expected, I suppose. Though I would have hoped that they would come into camp looking like they've practiced all summer, I'll still take three punters who have a chance over converting a very good kicker at the last minute (like last year).
From what I've gathered, Hekker has made some major improvements since switching to a full-time punting focus. He is a true freshman, and what you need to know about him is that he was primarily a high school QB--good enough to attract offers to play quarterback at some D-2 schools. When you're a high school QB on a state runner-up team, like he was, then you practice quarterbacking. Punting is an afterthought. He's 6'5", not too skinny, and a natural athlete--I think it's very possible that he'll win this job eventually, as many people expect him to.
Ryan Allen has a huge leg though, and Sean Sehnem got it done in JC with a 43 yard average (somewhere in New Mexico, was altitude a factor in his high average??). This is not a done deal by any means. We will continue to bring you *Breaking News* on the OS punting situation.
...everytime Jacquizz got the ball it looked like every defender on the field swarmed him, you couldn't see him--and suddenly--he would squirt through. The defenders got so frustrated that at one point they were holding onto his shorts to stop him. He ran another 20 yards, one hand grabbing for his shorts the other on the ball. Fortunately, he had his bike shorts underneath. He does not stop--just keeps going forward until they make him stop.
-internet persona "Beavsma", commenting on 8/3's practice
This will become a theme.
During 11-on-11 scrimmaging today, both Remmers and Smiley took turns dealing with LDE Victor Butler. There's no better test for quickness of an OT then to try to block Butler on a pass play. Remmers probably does the best with Butler's speed, followed by McAndrews (observed last Sunday) and then by Smiley. (a former coach) felt that Remmers did a very credible job with Butler.
More in the speed department: One pass play Sammie Stroughter caught a medium range ball and was taking it down field for the TD. He was pursued by Al Afalava and Keenan Lewis, both who were able to match Stroughter's speed, but not catch up with him. Note: Stroughter did not leave Afalava behind.
Right tackle makes me want to hire a Rolaids delivery service, but it's really the only question mark on the offensive side of the ball. I think it's going to end up being Remmers, and I think he'll do okay if he gets the job...but, there will be 1-2 ends or blitz schemes (Stanford or Cal, with their new 3-4, too?) that he could have extra trouble with. Remmers is from a football family, and a Beaver family at that (his dad played guard for the Beavers in the early 70s) and you can't underestimate or bet against that combination (despite the questionable era of play, prior to the Orange Renaissance). Mike also appears to have taken his summer preparation pretty seriously, the roster says he's up about 15-20 pounds since Spring ball, and he just looks a lot more solid.
This is excellent stuff on Al. As a speed test, keeping up with Sammie is no joke. Afalava has slimmed down over the summer and regained the speed he had early in his career. As a true freshman, Al showed some great footspeed on individual plays, even running down future NFL receivers from the opposite side of the field and from behind (Bumpus from WSU now plays for Seattle). His speed was legit, and you could see why he was playing as a true freshman.
It seems like he has suffered in 1-on-1 coverage, while he has been more focused on laying highlight reel hits on receivers and on those few remaining quarterbacks foolish enough to venture from the pocket in the last season or two. He's already one of the smartest football players on the field, truly as good as it gets in run support, and I think it's likely that his "new" speed might have the biggest effect on what he's able to do and how the team is able to use him compared to any other player's physical changes over the summer, including Moevao. We'll see if Banker takes advantage of this and they give him some more blitzes this year. It's definitely one of the main things to watch.
More on 11-on-11 scrimmaging: it was none other than Jacquizz Rodgers who drew the "oohs" and "ahhs" from spectators today. He had one run where he found a hole and made a cut that completely froze a linebacker - literally like a statue. Luckybucky from Pure-Orange.net was telling me that Jaquizz has a "double cut" move that just kills defenders. I was talking to a fund raiser for the BASF today and was told that not only will there be a #8 and #19 football jersey for sale to fans, but also #1 (Jaquizz's no.) will be for sale.
(an observation from a former football coach he was sitting with): Ryan McCants is seeing the holes better than Quizz is. However, that's probably no surprise since McCants has been in the program for a year. (the coach) is also delighted with the hire of Keith Heyward as cornerback coach. (Coach) watched Heyward up close and thought that the fundamentals and detail s being taught are excellent. (Coach) thinks the Beavers are 4 deep with PAC-10 level players at CB, with Hughes, Lewis, Clark, and Dockery.
This is 2-observations-in-1. Runningback is the most interesting off-field position battle to me. And cornerback has real depth now, so we're not left hung out to dry next year, like the last time we had to replace both starting corners. That year (2005? 5-6) didn't turn out so well, when conference offenses took further and further advantage of our weaknesses in pass coverage and undisciplined secondary play (Piscitelli trying to do too much when he saw things breaking down in front of him), and exploited the stubborn choice to leave linebackers covering a few very speedy slot receivers as the season wore on (remember the Arizona game that year?). Due to popular demand, the nickel package was introduced the next fall, and things have been so much better on defense ever since.
Most notable though: Jacquizz Rodgers is coming in and people are already talking about selling his jerseys before he's taken a single handoff in a full-contact practice! Don't get me wrong, I've already decided that he's The Orange Jesus-and we are all just witnesses, but just think about that level of hype for a second. Beaver fans can't get enough information on him. I'm not saying that I don't agree with being excited, just try to contain yourselves. It should go without saying: just don't be like the you-know-whos in grellow.
Meanwhile, Ryan McCants is still the same guy who was the #10-20 runningback "in the nation" (according to those creepy recruiting websites, even while missing most of his senior year with a broken bone) coming out of high school, and all he's done is gain about 25 pounds in the weightroom --now 240lbs. and R-I-P-T-A-C-U-L-A-R. He spent a full year practicing against the #1 Rushing Defense in the NCAA, and he's ready to take over the reigns. People might want to say he's some type of bruiser/pounder/power/slowpoke/"plodder" runner, but from everything that I've seen in the *last year he's better at taking it outside and beating everyone to the corner than he is going straight up the middle (or is that a consequence of me seeing him against the #1 Rushing Defense in the NCAA??).
Riley really wanted to use McCants last year, but...Yvenson Bernard was kind of good and Clinton Polk and Matt Sieverson averaged over 100 yards per game when YB couldn't go, so Riley just didn't need to. Running the ball more last year wouldn't have won the Beavers any more games, unless it could have prevented the 5 pick games at Cincy and ASU somehow. And we all know that Riley sees redshirt years as essential preparation for incoming players.
It just seems like McCants isn't getting a lot of love from the fans compared to Quizz and we should all back off for a bit. He's Ryan McCantsStopHim for a reason. That's all I'm saying for now. I think we will find out a lot more about their talents in the next few days as they battle it out in practice.
Tonight 1s and 2s Team was a lot of fun, because the O shredded the D. I am not sure what was up but Lyle and Justin Engstrom threw so many touchdowns, my internal highlite DVR went into overload. I remember TDs by Sammie, Catchings (I think 2), Quizz, James, Engstrom run, McCants, Reese should of been but stripped by Tuimaunei at the goal line. It was great. All of the plays were run from the 20 or in. Lyle and Justin were just feeling it. Touch passes into the corner, across the back, leading receivers down field. Everything was clicking. Frankly, I was a little shocked.
14 practices into the Fall, things are starting to sharpen up a little. That report doesn't get written last year. Lyle is different. Or...was it a lapse in the defense?
Day 10 ... players seemed refreshed after taking Sunday off, but coach Riley must not have liked the demeanor of some because he gave a very stern lecture post-practice - telling the depth chart guys on defense that def. coordinator Mark Banker isn't going to automatically rotate 8-10 guys like last year. ... "EARN IT!'' said Riley emphatically, asking for more intensity in the workouts.
-Paul Buker's super-excellent blog
This is a Rolaids moment.
We have a suggestion for this, keep checking back throughout the week.