Friday, April 29, 2011
Exiting the spring: Oregon State
By ESPN.com staff
Oregon State concludes spring practices with its spring game on Saturday. Here's a brief primer.
Spring game: The Beavers play their spring game at 3:15 p.m. -- 12:15 PDT -- at Reser Stadium.
Questions answered: With starting quarterback Ryan Katz out, backups Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion were solid to impressive. There are few worries at quarterback -- Katz is throwing after a wrist injury -- which is always good. The outside linebackers are set with Cameron Collins and Michael Doctor. The secondary, led by safety Lance Mitchell, looks solid and there's good depth behind the starting four. Kicker Trevor Romaine has been consistent and may be an immediate upgrade on Justin Kahut.
Questions unanswered: A lot of questions heading into the offseason, starting with the health of wide receiver James Rodgers, whose return is uncertain after a serious knee injury, and continuing with the uncertain seriousness of tight end Joe Halahuni's shoulder problem. Those are two big presences in the passing game. The pecking order on the offensive line, at running back and middle linebacker are far from set. Ryan McCants, Jovan Stevenson, Jordan Jenkins and the freshmen Terron Ward and Malcolm Marable are in the mix at running back. While the left side of the O-line is set, the right is not: Burke Ellis and Michael Lamb are competing at guard, and Colin Kelly and Michael Philipp at tackle. Rueben Robinson, Kevin Unga and Tony Wilson are still splitting time at middle linebacker. Further, there are questions about who will provide consistent pressure on the quarterback from the D-line.
Spring stars: Doctor is going to be a player at weak-side linebacker. The move of Dominic Glover from defensive end to defensive tackle has yielded positive results. Jordan Poyer has been solid after replacing James Dockery at cornerback opposite Brandon Hardin. Markus Wheaton was a standout at receiver, and Obum Gwacham flashed some potential at the same spot. Spring started with writers celebrating Mannion over Vaz, but things reversed by the end -- mostly because of strong play by Vaz and not anything Mannion did or didn't do.