1) Spring ball kicks off on March 28 in Corvallis and one of the biggest question marks has to do with a player who won't take part in spring drills -- James Rodgers. And there are multiple questions as he comes back from a knee injury.
Although Rodgers received his fifth year from the NCAA, will he be fully ready by the time fall camp rolls around? If not, then by the season opener? If he isn't ready, how do the Beavs replace his production, or at least to a degree better than they did last season? He was scheduled to have his second surgery on Jan. 6 but nearly six weeks later, that second surgery still has yet to occur due to a reported lack of flexibility -- at what point does it become a near certainty the Beavs start the year without Rogers?
And then there's this: Oregonian columnist John Canzano floated the possibility that Quon may not return at all.
Now, anyone who has scanned the reader comments in Canzano's columns over the years has seen vociferous complaints that he can be, um, selective when painting a picture. And his column on Rodgers is full of unsubstantiated conjecture, there are more holes in it than a brick of swiss cheese. But it's a column, and that's how columnists sometimes roll.
And putting the standard 'canzanoplaints' aside for a moment, what if Canzano's piece turns out to be a foreshadowing, rather than some long-forgotten kvetch and bird cage wrap by the time August rolls around?
Does anyone really want to ponder a 2011 Oregon State season without Quizz and James? Ungh.
It means two things in the short-term: Some clarity on Rodgers before spring ball would be most welcome indeed, and opportunities aplenty are out there at flanker -- and for all the Beav offensive playmakers -- to make their mark and turn heads.
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2) Will someone lay strong claim to the starting running back job? Jacquizz Rodgers' sudden decision to enter the NFL Draft (the internet gurus have him going in the 3rd round), comes at a position that a month or so ago was considered arguably the most stable on the team. Well, that was then. Quizz' departure has created a land rush at running back for the Beavers.
Does Ryan McCants end up putting it all together in his senior season? Will Jordan Jenkins rise to the top? What happens if Jovan Stevenson puts on a few more pounds and continues along his upward path, one interrupted by injury in '10? Will Malcolm Marable or Terron Ward suddenly emerge?
And what if no one seizes such a clear cut advantage, that it comes down to fall camp -- and with it the arrival of Malcolm Agnew and Storm Woods? Running back is, after all, one of the positions more conducive to a true freshman coming in and excelling.
3) Will the defensive line be able to get the job done? If there is one very big reason for worry up front in 2011, it's that all-everything Stephen Paea is gone, headed for the NFL as a probable first round draft choice.
The scary part is that with Paea the last two years, the Beavs were more ordinary than extraordinary on the d-line, having considerable trouble generating a consistent pass rush.
DT Fred Thompson and DE Scott Crichton are two that BF.C has been eager to see since the day they signed -- can they be all that we think they can be this early in their careers? How about some of the other big bodies, like Castro Masaniai, is he ready to consistently win Pac-12 battles in the trenches?
How about JC transfer d-ends Blake Harrah and Rusty Fernando, will they give incumbents Kevin Frahm and Dominic Glover a run for their money, or will Frahm and Glover show that big senior year improvement you sometimes see?
4) How much of an impact will the January enrolees have -- because OSU could really do with having it be substantial. In addition to Thompson, Harrah, Fernando and Ward, there's Trevor Romaine, Will Storey, and D.J. Welch. Oh, and one other guy...
5) Big Darryl Jackson (6-7, 315) could be one of those rare ones, an offensive lineman ready to play straight out of high school, (although he graduated the year before.) Jackson has been drawing rave reviews since arriving at OSU in January, and he might just make a play for early playing time. And if there's one area that needs a boost, it's the offensive line, after struggling in 2010.
Will the Beavs move Michael Philipp inside? It's continued to be a hot topic this offseason. And if so, will that be better, or robbing Peter to pay Paul?
O-line coach Mike Cavanaugh worked so much magic in the years leading up to 2010, it came as a surprise when the Beavs didn't match expectations. This offseason, what's going on right now in the weight room, will be critical to OSU's fortunes in the fall. Philipp, Grant Johnson, Burke Ellis and Mike Remmers all return, so on paper improvement should be in the offing. The question is how much? And the Beavs do have to replace their best player on the o-line in 2010 in center Alex Linnenkohl, with Joshua Andrews the leading candidate on the depth chart at the end of the '10 season.
And in those five questions, we didn't even get to the part about QB Ryan Katz and how ready his surgically repaired wrist will be this spring. Or how the Beavs will need to replace two-thirds of their starting linebackers. Or that Jordan Poyer, slated to start at one corner spot, is playing full-time baseball for the Beavs this year and thus, will not be a full-time spring football participant. Or that TE Joe Halahuni, perhaps the Pac-12's best kept secrets, is one of BF.C's picks to have a banner type year.
Even casual fans can't help but wish. that March 28 would get here sooner.
5 Big Questions for Spring Ball
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