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April 28, 2013

9 Takeaways from the Spring Game

Another spring is in the books for Oregon State, and as the Beavers head into the summer, here are BeaverBlitz's takeaways following Friday night's annual spring game:

1- Riley stuck to his script.

As has been Coach Mike Riley's direction at every spring camp he has been involved with at Oregon State, the final "game" isn't really a game. It is an extended practice scrimmage. And it is really a scrimmage for the guys lower on the depth chart, as one of Riley's keys for the spring is to avoid injuries to the starters. For the most part, the ones' played a very limited amount of the of the "game". It was and has been designed for the threes and fours to get some extended live experience. National Pac-12 Network audience or not, Riley stuck to his past script.

2 - The quarterback starting spot is still anyone's guess.

Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz got basically one series each. Going in, we knew the competition wasn't going to be decided on Friday night, and it clearly wasn't. What we did get to see, as we have in prior spring games, is a lower depth chart quarterback that gets to show off his skills. This year, it was Brent VanderVeen who made the future look bright at the position.

3 - Defensive tackle still remains a question.

With penciled in starter Siale Hautau sidelined most of spring, and fellow JUCO transfer (and penciled in starter) Edwin Delva limping off during the scrimmage, the defensive tackle position is nowhere near solidified as we head into the summer. Redshirt sophmore Brandon Bennett-Jackson made some plays during the scrimmage and was credited with a sack. This summer will see another JUCO transfer, Kyle Peko, enter the mix for what will sure to again be heavy rotational playing time at the DT spot.

4 - Poyer's departed cornerback spot still undecided.

Redshirt senior cornerback Sean Martin wasn't just going to allow highly regarded JUCO transfer Steven Nelson to pass him by for Poyer's open spot, and so far he hasn't. This is a good thing, as the more depth you have, the better. While the actual starter likely won't be named until late in fall camp, I could see both of them seeing heavy playing time every game.

5 - DJ (the spinner not the player) caused a mixed reaction.

Players loved having music at practice all spring, with an occasional DJ sprinkled in weekly. From some Twitter and message board responses after the game, a certain segment of the fan base wasn't so enamored with the DJ's performance at the spring game. Of course, to expect the 18-23 year old set to have the same musical tastes as the average age of the Oregon State fan base is asking a bit much. Bottom line...the players like it...Riley was amenable...end of story.

6 - At wide receiver it is Brandin Cooks and....?

Brandin Cooks is clearly the number one receiver on the team (not that there was any question prior to the spring game) and he proved that in limited work on Friday with four catches for 38 yards. With Richard Mullaney sitting out spring camp, it was a chance for some less experienced players to step up and attempt to fill the void left by Markus Wheaton. But no one has grabbed the bull by the horns, yet. Micah Hatfield probably showed the most and (assuming he can stay healthy, which has always been his biggest knock) should be vying for significant time in the fall. Hatfield caught three passes for 38 yards and one touchdown during the game. Obum Gwacham, who has the tools, made some strides during spring and will be needed in the fall. Additionally, Malik Gilmore and Blair Cavanaugh both got extensive action in the game.

7- Defensive end position looks deep.

With entrenched starters Scott Crichton (sitting out spring due to injury) and Dylan Wynn locks to again be the defensive end starters, spring was about looking at the other guys at the position. And the spring game saw a couple making consistent plays in the backfield. Both Lavonte Barnett and Akeem Gonzales found themselves in the backfield numerous times on Friday night and likely would have been credited with more stats had there been live hitting on the quarterback. Only redshirt sophmores, this bodes well for long-term stability at this important position in Mark Banker's defensive scheme.

8 - The Tight end position will see a lot more passes this year.

I know I'm really going out on a limb here, but with the graduation of 1000 yard receiver Wheaton, and no second option yet to stand out among the wide receiver corps, it's a pretty good bet the TE position will get its fair share of pass catching opportunities this fall. And the depth is there to keep them fresh. Kellen Clute, Tyler Perry, Dustin Stanton, Caleb Smith and Connor Hamlett all have a chance to contribute in a major way this fall. And Montana transfer Hayden Craig might be a solid future option after sitting out this year. He tallied three of this group's six spring game catches.

9 - Are we sure this is spring?

Warmest spring game ever? That has to have been a record temperature for this game, right? For those that have sat through dreary, rainy, raw, and cold spring games in years gone by, this one was for you!


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