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August 14, 2008

Rodgers brothers shine in scrimmage

Players started heading out to Protho Field today at 1:30pm on a hot clear day. It was 88 degrees F at 1:30pm, and it got hotter as the day when on.

Offensive line was LT - Andy Levitre, LG - Adam Speer, C - Alex Linnenkohl, RG - , RT - Mike Remmers. Remmers went the distance as the RT for the 1st OL. OT Wilder McAndrews practiced & scrimmaged with a huge gob of stuff over one hand. McAndrews spent the day at LT, starting with the 2's and later taking Levitre's place with the 1st OL. McAndrews really struggled to block today with the bandaged up hand.

Una Smiley has been practicing recently at LG, spending some time there today and last night. The guess here is that the left side is Una's better side as he spends most of his time there. Also, with McAndrews hand bandaged up, Smiley is now experimenting at guard, and with McNeil missing practices (allergies?), Mike Remmers will most likely be the starting RT for the Stanford game.

Last night during some pass protection drills, Remmers was blocking along with RG Gregg Peat. The DL, Victor Butler and Stephen Paea, stunted which resulted in Remmers getting stuck handling Paea 1-on-1 (Peat then took on Butler). Remmers did a good job of getting leverage on Paea and slowing him down. A BASF fund raiser told me at lunch recently that Paea is a 500 lb bench press guy - that's exceptional. If Remmers can slow down Paea, then hopefully he can handle some of the stronger DE's in the PAC-10 (and periodically a DT...). Given that Coach Cav regularly gets after Remmers for blowing assignments, then that might be the biggest concern with the Beaver's new RT. Remmers just might have enough physical tools for the job.

Practice today started out with full 11-on-11 punt scrimmaging, with each punter getting 7 punts. Johnny Hekker actually had 8 punts, but one was blocked. Neglecting the blocked punt, Hekker's 7 punts averaged about 41 yards. Hekker boomed 45 and 50 yard punts (nice hang time), shanked one that rolled out of bounds for 35 yards, and had one other lousy punt for just 32 yards. Ryan Allen averaged 34 yards for his 7 punts and Sean Sehnem averaged 37 yards for his. Sehnem had a nice 47 yard punt with excellent hang time.

Coaches have Hekker as the 1st punter, Allen 2nd, and Sehnem 3rd. Hekker's improvement the last 2 weeks has been outstanding and he will probably punt for the Beavers against Stanford. Given there are two more weeks between now and the Beavers opening game, hopefully Hekker will continue to improve and become more consistent. Hekker is a strong and tall kid with excellent athletic ability. With his experience as a HS QB, that should give the Beavers some options with him as a punter.

Following the punt scrimmaging, the team practiced 11-on-11 place kicking. With Kahut not kicking, Matt Barker took his place with the 1st unit. Barker hit all 3 of his FGs, including a 42 yarder with plenty of leg.

Following the special teams work, the players split up to drill within their position groups. While Tim Euhus was working with his TE's, he looked up to the spectators seated nearby and told them they were fortunate to be here today as there was going to be a scrimmage.

At 3:00pm, the officials arrived. The scrimmage was full 11-on-11, and all drives started on the offenses' own 30 yard line. Numerous times on 4th down Mike Riley opted to go for it, to give the players the chance to gain experience on 4th down situations. The 1st offense scrimmaged vs the 1st defense, and the 2's played against each other, too. Lyle Moevao QB'ed the 1's, and Justin Engstrom QB'ed the 2's. Ryan McCants and Jacquizz Rodgers got a lot of work in as both played with the 1st and 2nd offenses.

Drive didn't last long. Keaton Kristick showed really good speed one one play chasing James Rodgers to the sidelines and helping to keep him from making the turn.

Later, Jacquizz Rodgers takes the ball between the tackles to get 3 yards and a first down. The next play Quizz catches a short pass, and with what has to be a signature play, made a few great cuts to get by defenders and then race to the endzone for a TD. The spectators were absolutely awed by his moves to break free. TD play went about 55 yards.

One play Ryan McCants showed his strength and toughness with a run between the tackles to get a first down.

A couple of nice plays on first downs that included Kyle Brown making a nice catch and Quizz taking it up the middle for 8 yards. A penalty on the offense made it 2nd and 14, where Lyle Moevao threw a pass to Chris Johnson who was tightly covered by Keenan Lewis. Lewis didn't know where the ball was, so Johnson put a move on Lewis to gain separation. As Lewis was trying to recover, Johnson caught the ball and headed up field, out running Lewis to the end zone for a TD. The ball was nicely thrown by Moevao, and you could tell that when Moevao threw it, he definitely saw something he liked. Great play by Johnson.

One play Justin Engstrom had a beautiful fake throw to the right before throwing to his left to Damola Adeniji. The fake helped get Adeniji open just enough to make a play on the ball, which he should have caught, but he... dropped it. However, Engstrom did have a few forgettable throws today, including one on third down where he under threw a pass to Shane Morales. Morales did a great job of keeping CB James Dockery from intercepting the ball.

Cameron Collins and Lance Mitchell got some PT as the safeties on this drive. Una Smiley played at LG. On 4th and 1, with Coach Newhouse calling for a "hard count", Ryan McCants gets a first down. Then, WR James Rodgers gets the ball on a running play, turns the corner and heads up field. (Since we're not supposed to describe plays and formations in these scrimmage reports, the reader will have to guess how James got the ball...) Chris Johnson did a great job of shielding a defender from J. Rodgers that springs Rodgers for the TD, a play that went about 60 yards.

FYI, last night Lance Mitchell did get some PT with the 1st defense. Last spring he made a few nice interceptions and seems to have an eye for the ball.

On first down, Lyle Moevao completed one of his few passes to Sammie Stroughter. Moevao threw several passes today to Stroughter but the two couldn't get it going. The next first down play, Quizz takes it up the middle and then beat Al Afalava to the goal line for another TD. It was another big play that must have been good for about 50 yards.

Justin Engstrom did a lot a nice things in today's scrimmage, but this drive was easily his worst. First, one a 2nd & 4, he threw, no, he floated a short pass to Kyle Brown. The ball went over Brown's head (KB is 6'4"), but Kyle knocked the ball down with one hand. As the ball was falling, Brown juggled it, caught it, and then was blasted by 2 defenders. A lousy pass that left Brown out hanging to dry. But to Brown's credit, he hung on to the ball.

On 4th and 1, Riley decides to go for it, but a proceedure penalty backs the offense up 5 yards. On 4th & 6, Engstrom throws a pass that is intercepted by Lance Mitchell. Mitchell runs across the field, making several good moves to avoid would be tacklers. He then takes the ball up field for the defense's only TD on the day.

With Mike Remmers at RT and Wilder McAndrews at LT, the offense goes 3 & out. On 3rd down, Moevao shows nice arm strength on a deep ball, but in the middle of his route for some reason Shane Morales slows down and that costs him a chance to catch the ball.

A drive that didn't last long, with Gabe Miller catching a deflected pass on third down that actually resulted in losing yards. Ryan McCants did have a nice 5 yard run on first down.

Justin Engstrom floated a long pass to a wide open Aaron Nichols. Nichols had to lay out ala Chad Johnson 2000 Civil War SI cover photo to make the catch and get the first down. Had the pass not been over thrown, Nichols could have scored a TD. A pass interferance play makes it 1st & 10 on the defense's 15 yard line, where Engstrom finds WR Damola Adeniji on the goal line for a TD strike. Engstrom threw a nice, tight spiral with good velocity and accuracy as Adeniji was tightly covered..

A screen pass was thrown during this drive that was nicely sniffed out by MLB Will Darkins. The pass interferance play occured when Patrick Henderson tried to intercept a pass intended for Kyle Brown. The referees caught one of Henderson's hands on Browns back. Henderson didn't catch the ball.

A penalty causes it to be 1st and 20 and the offense can never get it going. Victor Butler caused the drive to be 3 & out with his sack of Moevao on third down.

By far Engstrom's best drive of the day as he did great. A few times he could be seen looking for different receivers. On 1st & 10, Engstrom hooks up with Aaron Nichols for 20 yards. Next play Engstrom over throws Shane Morales, and the following play is a 15 yard Ryan McCants run. Offense goes back to the play where Engstrom over threw Morales and this time gets 15 yards. Riley decides to go for it and Engstrom finds Shane Morales for the first down, showing good velocity on another pass. On 2nd and goal, Engstrom tosses a great pass into the corner of the endzone that Damola Adeniji catches for his 2nd TD of the day.

One passing play on this drive the pocket broke down and Engstrom did a nice job of rolling out of the pocket to avoid the rush. He couldn't find anyone open so he threw it away. Real nice play.

Some impressions...

Engstrom had some poor plays, but also showed a lot of promise. Had a nice fake on one play when he faked throwing in one direction, and then threw on target to a WR in another direction. He could be seen looking at a variety of WRs on a few plays. Did throw too high a few times. But as the day went on, he started throwing the ball with more authority. The kid is a gamer.

Ryan McCants and Jaquizz Rodgers both showed a lot of toughness as they took a lot of hits from defenders. Both did a great job of hanging onto the ball as I don't remember either of them fumbling. I was really concerned going into this fall camp about their ability to hang onto the ball against Div 1A competition, but they were solid today.

Of the 13 drives, 7 ended in touchdowns. 6 for the offense, 1 for the defense. 4 of the offense's touchdowns were the results of big plays of about 50 yards or more, so this has to be a big concern with the defense.

Sammie Stroughter was surprisingly quiet. However, WRs Morales and Adeniji had big days. And Chris Johnson had a couple of nice plays, a TD catch and helped J Rodgers on another TD play.



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