Pac-12: Oregon State practice 090818

Philipp ready to be big man on campus

August, 19, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- At Oregon State, offensive linemen show up with baby fat and cherry cheeks and position coach Mike Cavanaugh breaks them down and then -- slowly -- builds them back up.

That won't happen with true freshman Michael Philipp for two reasons.

For one, well, just look at him. He's 6-foot-3, 313 pounds and he can dance.

"He's as close to a ready-made lineman as we've ever got," coach Mike Riley said.

The second reason Philipp is the likely starting left tackle for the Beavers is Timi Oshinowo (knee) and Wilder McAndrews (wrist) are dealing with injury issues.

Philipp looks the part, but playing the part is another matter. While most of the battle for a receiver or running back or cornerback is physical -- is he ready athletically? -- it's far more mental for an offensive lineman.

Philipp is like an action star. He looks like he can bust heads, but he's got to learn to deliver the line -- "hasta la vista, baby!" -- just right.

"The whole game is different," Philipp said. "Everything is faster. You're no longer the strongest guy anymore. The playbook! In high school, you just call the play. In college, there are so many pre-snap adjustments, it's hard to get use to."

Philipp is hardly brash. He's soft-spoken and calls it a "blessing" to be expected to start.

But Riley thinks he's up to the job because he's shown poise and competitiveness. After getting whipped the first days in full pads, Philipp has gained on his adversaries every practice.

"I was just getting used to the speed of the game," he said. "And I was going against some real good D-ends."

Philipp said Kevin Frahm's bull rush has given him the most trouble. After being genuinely pleased with that news, Frahm called Philipp "special."

"I have no doubt that Mike is going to be good," Frahm said.

Philipp isn't a typical Beavers recruit. He was no diamond in the rough. He was a shimmering diamond sitting on black velvet for all to covet. Every Pac-10 team other than USC offered him a scholarship.

Philipp said he chose Oregon State because he liked Riley and knew Cavanaugh's reputation for building linemen.

"I just felt comfortable here," he said. "I know [Cavanaugh] can make you better, best you can be."

Of course, all bets are off when the lights go on. The game will get even faster for Philipp when the season starts.


Sure. So what?

"I think it's normal to get nervous," he said. "I got nervous my senior year of high school even though I was the biggest dude on the field."

Some thoughts after watching OSU

August, 18, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Neither of Oregon State's top two quarterbacks, Sean Canfield nor Lyle Moevao, threw during Tuesday's practice.

Moevao is still working his way back from a shoulder injury and Canfield rested his arm.

The interesting thing is how good the passing game looked without the two senior quarterbacks running the show.

It was one day. We know. And the Beavers secondary is banged up.

But redshirt freshman Ryan Katz and Virginia transfer Peter Lalich, a junior, looked comfortable while making a number of downfield connections. Both showed good arm strength and accuracy.

"I'm really pleased with both Ryan and Peter Lalich," Riley said.

This might or might not be meaningful this year. But the Beavers have a lot of guys coming back in 2010. Just not at quarterback.

Riley didn't seem too worried about that.

  • It's interesting how much teaching goes on at Oregon State practices. And not just by coaches. After listening to Riley encourage injured receiver Darrell Catchings to work with the Beavers young receivers, I noticed a number of instances when veterans pulled aside less experienced players to instruct them. Defensive end Kevin Frahm worked with Matt LaGrone and Henry Taylor on pass-rushing techniques. Center Alex Linnenkohl repeatedly praised and pushed a couple of the offensive linemen. Linebacker Keaton Kristick and cornerback Patrick Henderson held an informal sideline meeting over some pass defense issues. Sure that happens elsewhere. I just haven't witnessed so much of it during one practice.
  • Riley said he expects to figure out the starting offensive line by the end of the week. He said that touted true freshman Michael Philipp is the leader at left tackle, and left guard remains fluid between Colin Kelly and Grant Johnson, though Johnson appears to lead.
  • After watching Washington and Oregon State, I had a thought about how "returning starters" can be a misleading way to judge a unit. The Huskies secondary welcomes back all four starters. The Beavers none. And the Beavers were missing a number of guys due to injury. But the Beavers looked far more athletic in the back half than the Huskies. On paper, the Huskies might seem better off but my impression is the Beavers should be more confident. That shouldn't be too surprising. One team won nine games last year. The other, zero.
  • Moevao isn't easily rattled. Cornerback Tim Clark stood behind a TV reporter interviewing Moevao after practice and made a variety of faces that would have distracted an average guy. Moevao didn't even flinch during the interview. When the camera clicked off, he turned to Clark, "It doesn't work on me. I've been doing this too long."

Markus Wheaton is going to play for Oregon State

August, 18, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Markus Wheaton seems a bit impatient. He's just been asked for the 3,657th time about his cousin Kenny Wheaton, an Oregon legend best known for his 97-yard interception return against Washington in 1994. 

The funny thing to the reporter is that Markus Wheaton is a freshman receiver for -- wait for it -- Oregon State!


Markus Wheaton didn't supply the "Ha!"

"It didn't have anything to do with Kenny at all," Wheaton said. "I was going to go to Oregon but a couple of their coaches got let go, the ones who were recruiting me."

It's not that Wheaton isn't in the mood for a redundant interview topic. It's that he can hear something calling his name.

His playbook.

See, with Darrell Catchings out for the year with a hand injury, Wheaton's strong first days of camp have pushed him up the depth chart and made him the first option to step into the starting lineup at split end.

Only he's got to learn the Beavers offense. Quickly.

"When I'm not out here, I'm on my playbook," Wheaton said. "I'm going to go in right now, watch some film and look at the plays. Go to dinner. Look at the plays. Go home. Look at the plays. That's all I do now until I get it down."

Wheaton, who hails from Oakland, says the game is faster in college, but it's the plays that are giving him trouble.

The physical side hasn't stumped him yet. While he carries just 167 pounds on his 6-foot frame, Wheaton's speed and agility both before and after he gets the ball in his hands make him look like he belongs athletically.

"He just floats. He's a very smooth athlete. He's very gifted," coach Mike Riley said. "Now it's just a matter of putting all those gifts into our offense."

Which means Wheaton has to learn the plays.

"It's rough trying to learn plays," he said.

The plays are the thing.

When asked if he's nervous about running onto the field with the offense on Sept. 5 vs. Portland State, Wheaton shakes his head.

"I'm not thinking about that now," he said. "I'm just trying to learn the plays."

It looks like Canfield will be the man for Beavers

August, 18, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- There have been no press conferences, no dramatic headlines nor any sort of coronation, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Sean Canfield will be Oregon State's starting quarterback on Sept. 5 when Portland State comes to town.

And it's not just that fellow senior Lyle Moevao, the starter in 2008, isn't fully recovered from a shoulder injury.

  AP Photo/Wily Low
  Sean Canfield says that he is "that guy who needs to lead this team to where it wants to go."

Canfield, beginning last spring and continuing through preseason practices, has been at the top of his game. Folks who have been watching practices every day use terms like "lights out."

According to coach Mike Riley, Canfield has completed nearly 70 percent of his throws during fall camp, which "has never happened before, for anybody."

Well, somebody, somewhere might have done that, but it's clear that Canfield's play has raised a few eyebrows in the coaching offices.

Canfield doesn't hesitate to agree. He's feeling it.

"I think I'm that guy," he said. "I feel like I'm that guy who needs to lead this team to where it wants to go."

Speaking of going places, it's hard to believe Canfield arrived at this point. If anyone understands what Moevao might be going through, it's Canfield, because last year his career was mostly written off while he was the one recovering slowly from a shoulder problem and Moevao was turning heads.

Moevao passed for 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2008, and almost surely would have eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark if he hadn't gotten hurt.

Meanwhile, Canfield was quietly stuck on the bench, and most folks only remembered him as the guy who threw 15 interceptions while being the the primary starter over Moevao in 2007.

Moevao, at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds, wasn't the pretty picture that the 6-foot-4, 214-pound Canfield was, but he was a charismatic, cool-as-a-cucumber leader who made it abundantly clear he just loved playing football.

Canfield noticed.

"Early on, it was a growth and development thing for me as far as leadership and quarterbacking," he said. "I've always known I had the physical tools. It's a credit to Lyle. He's a great leader and he has a lot of fun when he plays. I picked up on that."

Then Moevao got hurt in the eighth game against Arizona State.

Enter a new-and-improved Canfield, who came off the bench and led the Beavers to a victory over the Sun Devils and then also won games as the starter against UCLA and Arizona.

(Read full post)

Oregon State's Canfield will sit out practice

August, 18, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- The Northwest Tour has stopped in Corvallis. The weather is beautiful. Practice starts at 2 p.m., but I'm going to try to bang out a story on quarterback Sean Canfield before I go outside.

Canfield won't throw Tuesday. He's resting. Not injured, as Oregonian scribe Paul Buker explains here. (Buker is across the room from me, not languishing in the "bullet-riddled southeast.")

Buker also notes in the above link that the Beavers have been bitten by the dreaded injury bug. The most recent player to go down -- and most serious -- is receiver Darrell Catchings, who's out for the year with a hand injury.

A lot of guys are hurting, but that's probably the case in most camps.

As for Canfield, see this quote Buker got this morning from coach Mike Riley: "I think Sean's almost thrown 70 percent (completion percentage) in camp, which has never happened before, for anybody.''

In other words, with Lyle Moevao still struggling to get his arm strength back, it's nearly certain that Canfield will be the Beavers' starting quarterback to begin the season.