SPRING BALL: The final week

THE FINAL WEEK of spring ball is underway for Oregon State. Here are the top five questions that remain for the Beavers with two practices remaining for this week plus the spring game on tap for Saturday.

Maria Bruggere has reported on every practice this spring for BeaverFootball.com. Here are her top five questions headed into the spring's final week.

1) Who will end up being the starting middle linebacker?
If it seems like this battle has been going on forever, it almost has, stretching all the way back to last season. Mark Banker continues to say this spring that no one 'backer out of the group of Rueben Robinson, Tony Wilson and Feti Unga has emerged over the others. They all have one final week to make their mark. Will one of them earn the post-spring job on the depth chart, or will it be an offseason of uncertainty headed into fall camp? Depending on what Mike Riley has to say after Saturday's spring game, we could know more by this time next week.

2) Can Terron Ward surpass the other running backs?
He's shifty and has had plenty of flashes this spring. But he's also been injured of late. OSU wanted to have a clear starter emerge this spring in the post-Quizz world, and for a while it was looking like Ward might be the guy, but ultimately no running back has yet seized the opportunity. Like the MLB group, they have three more practice sessions including the spring game to make it happen.

3) Will Obum Gwacham continue to make big catches?
Markus Wheaton has been the Beavs' best receiver but Gwacham has emerged as the guy right behind him. There's a catch, however, as James Rodgers, questionable to start the season as he rehabs his knee, and Jordan Bishop have both missed the entire spring. Can Gwacham finish with a bang and perhaps even take another step over the final week? If so, he might play his way into more turns on the field even when Quon and Bishop return.

4) Will the read option become more prominent in the offense?
We've seen a little here and there this spring, but is that about the size of it for Oregon State or are the Beavers just easing their players into it, with more on tap for fall camp? One thing is for sure, it won't become the new base offense, says Mike Riley. So the big question is, whether it's 2 percent, 5 percent or 20 percent, how effective will OSU be running it? With Ryan Katz strictly limited this spring, it's been a hard question to answer.

5) Has Cody Vaz's spring ball given him the confidence it takes to fill in for Katz in a stressful situation?
Vaz was a world-beater in high school and came to OSU with elevated expectations, but his first few turns on the collegiate stage last season were less than stellar. Some thought he would explode onto the scene from the get-go this spring with Katz shelved, but that hasn't happened. But he did explode on Day 12. Was that a harbinger of what's to come? Has a corner been turned? Stay tuned this week.

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