Waiting for Beaver starters of tomorrow

WHAT AN ODD time of year for Beaver fans. We've gotten used to having that bowl game matchup, something we could ponder 24/7 through the holidays. But in terms of being missed, not having the bowl practices might be the biggest thing of all.

Sure, not having all the bowl preparations frees up the OSU coaches to recruit more during this time period. But you also lose something.

Development.

The NCAA strictly limits the amount of time college football student-athletes can practice throughout the year. A bowl game, and the practices that come with it, are like an entire extra spring session, one where coaches can bring the youth up front and center and have them effectively run as the 1's.

Teams are allowed 15 practices by the NCAA between their last regular-season game and bowl game. Sometimes an early bowl makes it impossible to fit in all 15, but every single practice held is valuable.

Many bowl teams go back to their normal schedule, installing the game plan with the starters, after more than half of their bowl practices have come and gone.

It's valuable instruction and experience, reps and more reps, that the players presently down the depth chart just don't get to do during the normal course of the year.

MANY ARE KEY players on the 2010 scout team, their primary responsibility during the year was to give the 1's the best possible look, the most representative one they can, of who the Beavs are playing that week.

That means doing things in scrimmaging situations you wouldn't necessarily do in a game, it means the improvisation that sometimes happens on the field after the snap doesn't occur. Double coverage? Who cares, throw it in there. The A gap is open but the play is designed to go outside? Who cares. Run to the outside.

The starters of tomorrow, during the bowl practices, get an early, extra chance to catch the eye of the staff, to show how much they've learned and how much of the OSU system they've assimilated.

That's part of the reward of a bowl game. But, it's not always realized, or not enough anyway. Last year's bowl practices, in the end, didn't help the Beavs (5-7) make a bowl game this year.

IT'S NOT ALL bad news, though. The OSU coaches can hit the recruiting road more between Dec. 5 - 18 than they otherwise would have been able to this year. And Beaver players should get an early start on their winter conditioning program.

And the spring session in Corvallis a few months from now figures to be frenetic, with players fresh off that winter of lifting, and hungry to ensure a new bowl game streak begins with the 2011 season.

Players this spring like DE Scott Crichton will get a chance to show if they're ready for prime time. Normally, Crichton would be taking that first step now, in December, during the bowl game practices. Oregon State fans are counting on the fact he, and others, will show they were worth the wait come spring.


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