OSU spring: 5 position battles on offense

SPRING BALL AT Oregon State kicks off on March 31 and that always means position battles. Here are five of the most intriguing on the offensive side of the ball.

Running Back:
It's been a while since OSU had a clear cut, every down starter-type. Terron Ward was the most impressive over the final two games but OSU's running game languished for the bulk of the season. Listed as an "OR" on the depth chart as the starting running back this spring is Storm Woods - can he make this his year. Meanwhile, the wildcard is Chris Brown, and Mike Riley has said he's going to get a lot of reps to prove what he can do. If that's not enough theater, consider how much fun it's going to be to see 5-8, 224-pound Damien Haskins crashing into the line.

Left Tackle:
Riley is hoping rookie Bobby Keenan, a junior college transfer, is ready to play at the Pac-12 level immediately at one of the most important positions on the line. If so, that would allow Riley to move Sean Harlow inside to left guard. It's a huge spring for Kennan, and for coach Mike Cavanaugh to not only fill this hole, but get improved play from last year.

Right Guard:
Grant Bays got three starts last year and has a leg up on the job. But Riley has had lots of praise for Fred Lauina who spent his first season redshirting. Lauina was already going to get lots of reps this spring but with guard Josh Mitchell and center Isaac Seumalo out this spring with injuries, he's likely to be put on center stage even more. Who emerges between these two could make for must-see viewing over the course of 15 spring practices.

On paper, Connor Hamlett is your starter, end of story. But two things make this a position to watch - Hamlett got dinged up last year and OSU relies heavily on this position in the receiving game so they need to have reliable, solid options at the ready. Two, there's a large amount of experience and potential here -- Caleb Smith, Kellen Clute and Dustin Stanton are among those who could make waves this spring.

OSU needs a better run game than they showed last season, pure and simple. The o-line's blocking and the skill of the running back are naturally the key factors but don't sleep on the importance of the fullback. If Tyler Anderson can come out of the spring head and shoulders above Ricky Ortiz and others, that might be a good thing. And who knows, Anderson could also become that tipping point, unexpected surprise for opponents -- could he build off his 11 reception, one TD performance of last season?

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