We have notes on position battles and coaching additions, a defensive player switches platoons and more in BF.C's coverage of OSU's first day of spring drills in 2013.
Players participating in practice were limited to shorts and helmets on Monday and while that restricts the team from experiencing much contact, it didn't prevent the Beavers from running hard on Day One.
"We just try to start working on techniques and assignments," Mike Riley said. "And I think we should do more of it just like this. I liked this day – besides that, the guys were good and it looked a little bit like football."
The offseason for Oregon State's coaching staff focused on research and development heading into the spring and the looming 2013 season. Riley made reference to the offseason as "the second most valuable time" OSU players and coaches have available to them.
"(Training camp) is the most valuable time," Riley said. "We get 15 days of this – and that is the best."
So what has changed? Sans the typical comings and goings of a new year of football – nothing much - yet.
"There is some new stuff that we did today," Riley said. "It might not necessarily be totally new. But how we do it is a little bit different – and we will always find times where we want to add a new pass pattern or a new running play."
Riley mentioned that OSU may be looking to up the tempo of their game plan, and noted looking for new approaches will stretch to the special teams as well. Oregon State's special teams unit took a hit at the end of the 2012 season when three key players – Jordan Poyer, Clayton York and Jordan Jenkins – all graduated, thereby leaving their roles on special teams up for grabs.
"We might want to block or return a little differently now," Riley said. "We lost some of our very good core players on special teams. We are looking for more core players on special teams, and right now it will be all about development."
Still, the last thing Riley wants is for his staff and his players to get ahead of themselves.
"The main thing we are trying to accomplish – right here, right now – is the growth and development of each player no matter where they are at," Riley said. "What is always interesting about spring ball is that there are 20 guys that have redshirted that breaking in for their first time. So seeing how they can develop into a guy that plays for us – besides just starters, we need quite a few guys to step up. The depth chart is not as important today as it will be at the end of August."
The first day of spring ball welcomed in Kyle DeVan as a GA, and Lyle Moevao as a member of the "quality control" section of the staff. DeVan will be working with the tight end group, while Moevao will be operating with the running backs predominantly. Devan's past experience as a center for OSU will come in handy – as expected, he spent most of his first day feeling out his role as a GA while showing the tight ends some more in-depth blocking tactics that they will hone as spring continues.
However, Moevao's arrival is an interesting twist of sorts - will he be able to make an impact on the performance of Mannion and Vaz as they battle for a starting role this April?
"There is no doubt about it," Riley said. "[Moevao] was in the same situation with Sean Canfield. And I think Sean and Lyle probably handled it about as well as two guys could have. I think [Mannion and Vaz] can learn from that."
So while Moevao's capacity as an on-field coach may be limited, his presence and insight alone may be able to help a struggling corps of QB's find their groove.
"I'm really proud to have Lyle here." Riley said. "He was such a heart and soul part of our football team, and if he can bring any of that as a coach to our team that will be really good. He was smart, and if he wants to do this long term as a coach, he will be really good."
Tyrequek Zimmerman, Scott Crichton, Garrett Weinreich, Tyler Anderson and Richard Mullaney were all on the field today but did not participate in any drills - they are expected to be out for the duration of spring ball. Isaac Seumalo and Chase Eldredge were limited today, but both looked healthy and did partake in a few basic drills alongside DeVan and O-line coach Mike Cavanaugh.
Spotlight on some of the Position Battles
QB – Day one goes to Cody Vaz, who completed more passes than Mannion and had more control over his accuracy. Mannion struggled with leading wideouts on passes over 25 yards, either underthrowing or overthrowing receivers with relative consistency. To be fair, Mannion exceeded Vaz when it came to accuracy and timing in the short game. The two passers will be splitting time with the 1's this spring.
WR – Gwacham won the day on Monday. His hands have improved, and his route running is certainly a step above what he was capable of in 2012. On the other hand, Gilmore had a tough day characterized by dropped passes and poorly calculated routes here and there.
CB – Steven Nelson and Sean Martin are going to be a lot of fun to watch this spring. The pair had a solid start on Monday, showing a lot of speed and stellar tracking ability when practicing routes under the tutelage of Rod Perry and the watchful eyes of Poyer. This tandem seems destined to be dueling for a starting position during each and every one of the following 14 practices. After Day One, both Nelson and Martin are on a level playing field.
Brandin Cooks and Rashaad Reynolds both saw time returning kicks out of a punt formation today.
Keith Kostol was booting the ball pretty well today. His average punt was a little over 50 yards.
Trevor Romaine struck gold on a variety of field goal and his kicks had some serious gusto - two of them cleared the supporting net of the upright and landed in the adjacent parking lot.