Spring Ball kicks off Monday!

THE BEAVERS WILL (thankfully) once again wear helmets, throw the football around and take the field under the tutelage of the OSU coaching staff on Monday, something that hasn't happened since December. So what should Beaver fans be on the lookout for over the next month?

How high can Sean Mannion fly?
He put up ridiculous numbers the first part of last season and though he fell back to earth down the stretch, he still set the Pac-12 season record for passing yards with 4,662 and threw an Oregon State-record 37 touchdown passes. With WR Brandin Cooks gone to the NFL, it's unlikely fans will see those numbers again in 2014 but keep one thing in mind…

Victor Bolden might be ready to shine
It's unfair to ask the second-year player Bolden to replace Cooks, especially a guy who has so few career grabs (6). But did you see Bolden's burst down the stretch last season, be it on punt returns, runs or in the pattern? Once the OSU offense and Pac-12 competition become second nature to him, as they did for Cooks in his veteran years, look out. Meanwhile, Richard Mullaney, he of the sticky hands, will need to stay healthy and should have more footballs thrown his way with Cooks gone.

Will Oregon State run more, or will Mike Riley just continue to say he'd like to run more?
Of course Riley wants to run the ball more. But talking about it and actually doing it, actually committing to it, are very different things. OSU ranked 115th out of 123 teams in running the ball last year, (94.4 ypg). At the same time, Riley naturally wants to get all he can out of his fifth-year senior quarterback, so there's little chance OSU is going to be four yards and a cloud of dust this season. The real question is if a featured starter will emerge between Terron Ward, Storm Woods and Chris Brown, or if it will again be a "by committee" approach. The first hints of an answer to all this come this spring.

Speaking of the run game, about that offensive line…
Oregon State is down two starters this spring – C Isaac Seumalo (foot) and Josh Mitchell (shoulder) won't take part. And the Beavs were already going to have to replace three starters. So not much is likely to be settled this spring up front. That said, we should get a better idea by the end of 15 practices on who the candidates are – Bobby Keenan will get every chance to prove he can leap from junior college to the Pac-12 at left tackle. Meanwhile, the rest of the No. 1 headed into the spring is left guard Sean Harlow, center Roman Sapolu, right guard Grant Bays and right tackle Gavin Andrews. Seumalo is a lock for center once healthy and Mitchell is a near-certainty to start once he heals up.

The linebackers should be salty
Michael Doctor is back with a fifth year of eligibility following injury, D.J. Alexander and Jabral Johnson man the other two starting spots with good depth behind them. But will the Beaver d-line be able to keep offensive linemen from looking to make blocks in the second level?

Trying to replace Scott Crichton
The unenviable task falls to Jaswha James, who had all of eight tackles last season. But don't sleep on Titus Failauga. Inside, Jalen Grimble gave OSU fans some hope last season with some head-turning work on the scout team after transferring to OSU from Miami. Grimble is built low to the ground at 6-2, 300-pound and what helps even more is he understands leverage and pad level.


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