Spring Practice -- Day 4 -- Paea's not just big, he's quick too

April 5, 2010

CORVALLIS - Monday's practice, OSU's second of 2010 in full pads, was a little rugged with helmets flying and defensive players occasionally being admonished for taking ball carriers to the ground, but it was another step forward for the 2010 Beavers.

The latest focus today was working on third down situations as head coach Mike Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf seek to put a little more pressure on the young quarterbacks in their charge.

Compounding the stress of third down for the quarterbacks was the stellar play of the defensive line, with Stephen Paea, Kevin Frahm and Gabe Miller in particular drawing praise from Riley during his post-practice media availability.

Paea continues to dominate - which is expected of the Morris Trophy co-recipient - and the muscle mass he's added this offseason doesn't appear to have cost him his quickness. On one play today, Paea blew past Alex Linnenkohl and had Peter Lalich in his grasp before he could hand the ball off to Jacquizz Rodgers. A few minutes later it was Paea speeding by Michael Lamb to get in Ryan Katz's personal space before he had completed his drop.

Cornerbacks coach Keith Heyward continues to rotate fresh legs into team drills and appears to have a deep pool of talent to draw from even with redshirt freshman Sean Martin sidelined for the spring. Senior James Dockery, who started all 13 games in 2009, and junior Brandon Hardin, who earned three starts last season, take the first reps but there is a long line of capable players behind them. Keynan Parker, Jordan Poyer and Rashaad Reynolds are taking turns, gaining experience and pushing the guys ahead of them.

'Corner depth, with continued development, will be really good, better than it has been in a while,' Riley said. 'We'll start with Hardin and Dockery, who finished the year there as starters. We've moved Poyer there which looks like a good move right now and Rashaad Reynolds is going to be a good player there. Sean Martin will be back too and the experience that Keynan Parker is getting, with his speed, I think he's got a chance to be a good player. Hopefully by the end of this thing we're gonna have five or six guys that can go into a coverage situation and do a good job for us.'

In drills, redshirt freshman receiver Mitch Singler, whose cousin, Kyle Singler, is playing for Duke in tonight's NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game, made several nifty catches in the middle of the field and Joe 'The Tank' Halahuni took a screen and turned it into a long gain. On the defensive side of the ball, Suaesi Tuimaunei had a chance to deliver a knock blow to Markus Wheaton over the middle - Wheaton certainly left the encounter aware that he was lucky the two are teammates. Dax Dilbeck made a nice play, stepping in front of a receiver to make an interception against Jack Lomax and Tonu Tuimalealiifano picked up a fumble after a botched handoff.

Another player demonstrating his strength and ability to overpower the man on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage was Brandon Hardin. The 6-2, 219-pound, junior cornerback refused to allow James Rodgers to get into his route on one play today and threw Rodgers to the ground. I'm not sure if the play was legal, but clearly most receivers won't be accustomed to facing a corner with Hardin's size and he has the ability to knock receivers off their routes and to wreak havoc on timing routes.

In other news, Ryan Katz was among several players involved in photo shoots for the 2010 version of the 'I Am Orange' marketing campaign (see photo).

ONE THE SIDELINES: OT Michael Philipp remains on the sidelines and says he's scheduled for surgery later this week ... MLB Feti `Unga is out with a groin injury ... S Lance Mitchell was sidelined today to rest a sore hamstring ... WR Darrell Catchings returned to practice after sitting out the last two sessions.

DID YOU KNOW? OSU's May 1 Spring Game is the last in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Oregon, USC, New Mexico State and Fresno State also play on that date. Duke, Miami, Army, LSU, Rice, Texas, San Diego State, Troy, Nevada, Air Force and Florida International have already completed spring drills.

We invite you to catch more of Coach Riley's comments from today on Beaver Nation Online, the official audio/video source of Beaver Athletics. Beaver Nation Online paid subscribers can view last year's victory over Arizona State, when the Beavers won in Tempe for the first time in 40 years. You can see many more of OSU's 'Classic' games online it their entirety on BNO.

Look for more updates from the media present Monday, which included Paul Buker and Molly Blue from The Oregonian, Cliff Kirkpatrick from the Gazette-Times, Kerry Eggers from the Portland Tribune, the Daily Barometer, KEZI, KVAL, KMTR BeaverFootball.com and BeaverBlitz.com.

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