As Oregon State wraps up its spring session Saturday with its Fan Fest activities at Reser Stadium, head coach Mike Riley said he's feeling pretty good about what the Beavers accomplished this spring.
Last year's growing pains, which led to a 3-9 season, also produced a lot of first-time starters who now have some game experience. In fact, there will be 27 players on the 2012 roster who have started at least one game. That depth allowed Riley to really focus on the details this spring.
"I'm not sure we got the whole volume of what we wanted to get in, but we got to repeat a lot of stuff," Riley said. "We took this spring as a fundamentals look. We tried not to be too exotic. We worked on the timing of certain routes with the receivers and quarterbacks, worked on the details of fundamentals and blocking schemes. It was a good mixture of coverages, but not too much that we can't get good reps. Volume hasn't been great, but our work on the details has vastly improved."
Riley said he's liked the growth of the quarterbacks, citing an improvement in efficiency and overall production. Starter Sean Mannion said he's a much more confident quarterback as well.
"The Sean Mannion now is more comfortable," Mannion said, when asked to describe himself from last year to this year. "I think he's more experienced. I think he's improved his accuracy, improved his decision making. But that being said, I know there is a long way to go."
The biggest frustration for Riley this spring was the lack of depth on the offensive line. With players like Colin Kelly and Grant Enger out, Riley said it was a good chance for other players to compete. Plus, with an influx of offensive linemen coming in this fall, there is more uncertainty across the line than any other position group on the Beavers' roster.
"You always want to come out of spring set on starters," Riley said. "But we're not going to be able to do that on the offensive line. We'll still be scratching and clawing to find the right group of guys."
Riley said he's been very pleased with the development of safeties Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman. With Jordan Poyer and Rashaad Reynolds returning at both cornerback spots, Riley thinks he's got a pretty good secondary.
"I like the look of that group a lot," he said. "They are all really instinctual players as well as talented. That goes a long way to being successful. Reynolds has grown a lot and Poyer is a proven commodity and it's been fun watching the two safeties grow."
Oregon State also was one of its deepest wide receiving corps in years. And Riley has previously said he wants to take more shots down the field this season. He's moved Obum Gwacham into the slot as a third receiver (though he'll continue to back up Markus Wheaton) in an effort to get more playmakers on the field.
"It's a good step for the growth of this offense and we really like [Gwacham] in that spot," Riley said. "We've gotten a good look at him inside and we've been really pleased how he's adapted to the role."