Full Pads Mean Football Is Getting Closer

Oregon St., ranked 20th. in the Sports Illustrated Football Preview edition that is out, practiced in full pads for the first time since the spring game Friday, under 90 degree sunny skys. More popping. Harder hitting.

And over 200 fans turned out to watch, partly in anticipation of the hitting, and partly in anticipation of the post-practice "BBQ with the Beavers", which serves as the official beginning of training for tailgating.

"It's a great atmosphere," Beavers coach Mike Riley said. "I appreciate our people putting this on for us. I think everybody enjoys this including the players. It always livens up practice a little bit when people `oh' and `ah.'"

Oregon St. finished installing their base offense with goal line packages, and one of the ‘ohs' came when 5'7" Jacquizz Rodgers won a jump-ball toss from Ryan Katz in the corner of the end zone over Dwight Roberson.

Aaron Nichols continued to impress battling for passes, and Marcus Wheaton made a impressive return to full practice after taking it easy on a healing shoulder injury early in the week, pulling in two touchdowns in goal line situations.

It wasn't all offense though, as safety Lance Mitchell made a number of impressive plays, including a leaping breakup of a pass.

"He was really on top of everything. He looked quick, made the interceptions," Riley sais. "It was impressive.''

TB Jovan Stevenson had an MRI on his left shoulder that popped out Wednesday when he fell in the ice tub after practice, but no results have been released yet. Jovan sat out practice, and wore a sling.

Stevenson said "I've had shoulder issues before, but nothing like this.''

Today will be the first of five days to feature two a days, and on a day forecasted to see temperatures climb into the upper 90s. It will test the effectiveness of the summer conditioning 86 of the returning players participated in.

"I'm looking forward to it," center Mike Remmers said. "I know it means we are one day closer to the season. It's hard work, but it's worth it."

The next two a day will be next Thursday, after the heat wave is expected to moderate.

TCU, Oregon St.'s opening day opponent in Dallas is ranked fifth by SI, with Boise St., the Beavers' end of September road opponent, listed third , and on the regional cover. Oregon is eighth, USC 17th., and Stanford 24th.

SI also projects Oregon and Oregon St. to finish tied for first in the Pac-10, both with 7-2 conference marks. But by listing the O first, one can infer another Civil War loss with a Rose Bowl trip on the line is what SI sees in store for the Beavers. Here's hoping the SI jinx means that specific prediction is wrong!

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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