Four days of practice are in the books, but things have remained fairly low key in Corvallis.
The last of the mandatory partial-gear practices have been completed, and the intensity at Oregon State's fall practices is expected to ratchet up as the Beavers will don full gear for the first time on Friday.
The first few workouts have given the coaching staff, media, and fans the chance to get a feel for what incoming players such as Michael Philipp can bring to the table. Philipp had a shaky start to practice in the opening days and was beat badly on several occasions, but has rebounded well and is now impressing nearly everyone. According to reports from practice, Philipp has been taking some of the reps with the 1's, ahead of the likes of Grant Johnson and Michael Lamb at left guard. According to Riley, it's still "start or redshirt" for the 6-3, 320 pound freshman.
The big news Wednesday from Eugene was the arrival of helmet cameras for the quarterbacks. Paul Buker of the Oregonian chased down Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf Thursday to get their thoughts on the devices, and this was the result:
That trendy, cutting-edge, well-endowed ($$) school in Eugene doesn't miss a trick, and if new O-coordinator and QBs coach Mark Helfrich thinks helmet-cams on Jeremiah Masoli, Nate Costa, and Darron Thomas help him do his thing, more power to him.
The Ducks say that the helmet-cams give coaches a "clear view of practice through the eyes of the quarterback.'' At Lunchpail U., where they are more, uh, cost-conscious, there is no talk of helmet-cams on Lyle Moevao, or Sean Canfield. Langsdorf said the helmet-cam practice aid concept was tried recently at Texas El-Paso and the pictures were blurry enough to make you dizzy. I got the feeling Langsdorf thought the helmet-cam idea was sorta worthless.
These first few practices have shown that the Beavers are thin at running back, but they have also shown that Jovan Stevenson is confident and will likely fit into the #2 role at the beginning of the season because of the injury to Ryan McCants. From Buker:
Riley said the difference between Stevenson in the spring and the Stevenson confidently taking No. 2 reps in camp is huge. "He came back almost like a veteran,'' said the coach. "It's amazing. He was here for one term, for one spring ball, and he's picked up where he left off. ... after the work he did in the summer, he's more physical, and I think he'll just continue to grow.''
The secondary is also an area for concern. Although the penciled-in starters know that they have big shoes to fill, they are confident and think they will rise to the occasion. That's why Riley and company thing the Beavers will be better off this year than in 2005, when Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis were baptized by fire. Quotes, from Buker:
"Keenan and Brandon took their lumps, no doubt about it,'' said Riley, "but hopefully we're further along (with Clark and Dockery). They've been in the program. They've developed. And they're ready to take over.'' Dockery agrees. "It's not like we were here, just sitting around,'' he said. "We were behind some real, quality, hard-working guys who are going to be playing in the NFL. ... we take it a challenge, trying to live up to their footsteps. We're just trying to find our own niche, you know?''
OSU defensive coordinator Mark Banker who recently sat down with Ted Miller of the ESPN Pac-10 blog. In the interview with Miller, Banker responded with this when asked if his eyes ever wander from Oregon State to other programs around the country:
Absolutely. In this business it's important to progress. I have aspirations within the profession, but one drive I have that is stronger than anything is quality of life. The next job I take has to be something that is, No. 1, that is better than the one I have. And, as you said, we've got some things established here. This is going on my 13th or 14th season coaching with (Mike Riley). I enjoy the atmosphere he sets. I enjoy the people I am around, day-in and day-out. I truly appreciate that my family is involved in the program. Money is important. Some day being able to have my own program is important. But some of those other things I just mentioned are equally, if not more important, to me. Life is too short and I've seen too many people who don't enjoy life. This is a great place to be coaching football.
Starting WR Darrell Catchings (sick) didn't practice. Reserve WR Kevan Walker (headaches) was held out. He was hit hard on the last play of Wednesday's practice. S Anthony Watkins (hamstring) remains out.
Lastly, Cliff has a nice piece on Oregon State's three walk-on receivers who now are all in the second unit, and are working hard to fend off upcoming younger players.