Today was the fourth spring practice for the Oregon State football team. It was also the first day that the team moved from “pretend football” to “real football.”
For the first time since their Civil War victory, the Beavers were playing in full pads.
“I thought we handled that well for day one in pads,” said head coach Gary Andersen. “It becomes real football, especially for the line of scrimmage players, there’s such a difference when you don’t have anything on for those offensive and defensive linemen.”
The energy level, like it has been since the start of spring ball, continues to impress Andersen. For the program to take that next step and become a contender in the Pac-12, the energy will need to continue to build.
“It comes with familiarity to the situation that you are in,” Andersen said. “We’ve got to continue keep that up, that’s what big-time teams do, they come out to work every single day. When they cross that line to the practice field, their mindshift changes to big-time Division-I college football practice. And that’s our challenge to them.”
Too early for players to stand out:
Who’s improved their game? Who’s stepping into a bigger role? Who are the surprises? These are all common storylines during spring ball.
However, through the first week of practices Andersen says that it’s still too early to answer those specific questions.
“There are things we see that we want to get better, there are some things that are positives out there,” Andersen said. “That’s spring ball, it’s really too early to make judgments on anybody right now, but overall as a team there’s a big care factor."
Replacing cogs in the offensive line:
The offensive line needs to replace seniors Gavin Andrews and Sean Harlow from last year’s unit. Last year once Andrews took over at center and Harlow returned from injury, the offense averaged over 200 yards per game the final nine games of the season, compared to the 143 they averaged in the first three games of the season.
One of those vacant spots might be taken over by the converted defensive linemen, Sumner Houston, who is taking first-team snaps at center.
“(Houston's) extremely intelligent, his care factor is extremely high,” Andersen said. “He’s got to be a kid who comes in a plays for us, that’s what we moved him there for, not to watch him stand on the sidelines...he’s done a nice job.”
Andersen’s take on the basketball team:
It took fifteen conference games but the men’s basketball team finally won a conference game, beating Utah 68-67 Sunday night.
Andersen was in attendance to witness the victory.
Both Andersen and men’s basketball coach Wayne Tinkle are in the process of building up their respective programs. For the football coach who has seen hard fought games not result in victories, Andersen appreciated the fight he saw from the basketball team during the season.
“They have been through so many tough times,” Andersen said. “Their heads were up, they were ready to go out and start fighting for a new week and it finally paid off for them.”