CORVALLIS–It was an eventful end to the spring for Oregon State. In the spirit of not giving away too many secrets, Mike Riley kept the spring game strikingly similar to the practice regimen the Beavers have abided by these last four weeks – a lot of running and short, quick pass plays. Perhaps the biggest difference was the increased focus on young players, and a few stood out...
Now that spring ball is over, recruiting takes center stage for the Beavs. Oregon State will now send the maximum seven coaches out on the recruiting trail for the May Evaluation Period.
"We are down to about four-plus weeks of evaluation time," Riley said. "So they will be hitting the road."
Riley said his seven assistants will be covering "all the (states) we usually do."
Sounds like California, Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas high schools should be expecting visits from orange and black clad coaches in the days and weeks to come.
Here are the notes for the spring game.
Riley summed up the spring game quite nicely for us – "It's not really pretty very often, but they did a nice job."
"We got out of it what we wanted to," Riley said. "We got more of our veteran players some early stuff, I think they got 25 plays. We got all the special teams parts that we wanted to see on film, and then we let guys that need the experience play for a while."
OSU ran 84 plays total.
There was some thud skelly sessions to start the evening, followed by the scrimmage.
OSU's starting offensive line really gave the 1's on defense a run for their money. Sean Mannion (8-for-11, 67 yards and an INT) had plenty of time in the pocket Friday night. Gavin Andrews saw a lot of heat coming his way at the right tackle spot, but with a little assistance from Grant Enger, he managed to pick up his assignment cleanly on most downs.
Cody Vaz went four-of-six for 59 yards. (He also had a TD throw in the skelly portion.)
Chris Brown saw the majority of the handoffs on Friday night, and sans a fumble forced by Joel Skotte, Brown had a decent night. Brown posted 21 carriers for 43 yards, but also had four receptions for 34 yards. He was the ultimate utility player, especially for the likes of QBs Brent Vanderveen and Richie Harrington. Brown ducked under and around tackles, fought tooth and nail for mere inches and had reliable receiving hands.
Friday in my opinion reinforced the improvement Brown has shown this spring from where he was last season. He is one of the players that benefitted the most from the 15 spring ball practices.
Vanderveen was the highlighted QB on Friday night. The redshirt freshman QB tossed one touchdown on the evening and went 15-27 for 153 yards. On the whole, Vanderveen displayed a strong enough pocket presence and maneuverability when under pressure.
But when the pressure got to be too much, Vanderveen had a tendency to put too much pepper on passes, occasionally missing simple targets. Still, I'm starting to get more and more comfortable with seeing his number in the rotation at QB.
Harrington struggled early and often - bobbled snaps, taking too much time in the pocket, inaccurate throws. Everything you don't want to see from a young QB.
Vanderveen and Harrington failed to post any positive running yardage.
Malik Gilmore only posted two receptions for 22 yards after the refs were on the field. But he grabbed a touchdown from Vaz during the initial two skellies, where he showed sure hands.
Stevie Coury and Blair Cavanaugh saw action later into the evening, combining for five receptions and 16 yards. These two walk ons are an interesting anomaly in the receiving corps considering they lack much size – but for what they lack in size they make out in lighting speed. It was a lot of fun watching the duo jet up and down the field Friday night.
Obum Gwacham notched only one reception, but he picked up 25 yards in the process. His long gain that landed OSU within inches of pylons was bested only by tight end Dustin Stanton, whose sole grab on the evening went for 35 yards and gave the small crowd in attendance a big boost.
Riley had mentioned that Brandin Cooks could max out at 10 snaps during the spring game. While Cooks may have only seen a handful of snaps, he still managed to put on a show. Cooks closed out his night with four receptions for 38 yards, making him the top producer of the evening.
Terron Ward posted 28 yards on six rushes and found the end zone once. He also caught three passes for 28 yards.
Other Stats – Receiving
Hayden Craig – three receptions, 32 yards
Micah Hatfield – three receptions, 32 yards and a TD
Kellen Clute – one reception, 27 yards
Connor Hamlett – one reception, five yards
Michael Balfour – one reception, four yards
Safety Ryan Murphy had an interception -- but he also went to the sidelines early on Friday night with what appeared to be an injury to his foot. Riley said that he was concerned initially, but he thinks that everything will be okay for the junior safety. Murphy has had an outstanding spring session.
D-linemen Akeem Gonzales and Noke Tago stood out when the young guys took over defensive responsibilities. Tago was a force in stopping runs up the middle, getting to Brown for a loss on one play. Gonzales displayed some speed in the pass rush, forcing a number of early and inaccurate throws out of Harrington and Vanderveen.
Sean Martin and Steven Nelson shared time at corner – Martin still leads the race for playing time in my book, but Nelson made a few impressive stops indicating that the junior corner is capable of making clutch plays in game scenarios.
Two other corners, Tyler Hasty and Malcolm Marable, both had interceptions tonight (thrown by Harrington). But Marable also picked up two pass interference calls.
Joel Skotte had a strong evening on the 1's and 2's, typified by the thumper he laid on Brown that forced the ball out of the young tailbacks hands and right into the mitts of Hasty.
Redshirt sophomores Brandon Bennett (DT) and Lavonte Barnett (DE) saw a lot of playing time Friday night – a sack apiece for the linemen.
It was not the starting corps of backers but the 2's that picked up the sacks during the spring showcase. Caleb Saulo and Jashwa James both got to the QB, and when they weren't blitzing the passer, they showed up big in containing some of the shorter routes that characterized Friday night's festivities.
But short passes and screen plays can be a world apart, and a trend that has been in evidence this spring was again plain to see on Friday. I can tell you right now that if Oregon State doesn't step up their ability to defend the screen, they are likely to find a world of hurt come the regular season. Brown and Ward saw the bulk of their success in the aerial attack due to the defenses inability to stop the screen.
Micah Audiss (RS SO) and Cyril Noland (RS FR) were responsible for some killer safety play Friday. Noland stood out the most with some surprising run defense down near the red zone. Audiss filled in for the injured Murphy and caused problems for the TE's trying to pick up yards over the middle.
DT Edwin Delva did not have a stellar evening. The junior struggled to get penetration and was caught out of position on draw plays to the tailback. From this chair, Friday night was a reminder that Delva still has a lot of work to do before he can consistently make plays when it counts.
I'll have some more spring game thoughts later on Saturday…