Normally, I’d have called this feature, Top 5 Spring Ball Battles to Watch, but with practices being pretty much closed, it’s hard for reporters, much less fans, to get a glimpse of who’s moving up and down the depth chart. Plus, what can you really tell from 20 minutes of practice? However, that doesn’t mean we can’t break down which positions we think we will have the most competition through the Spring Game. Here’s four of our favorite ones to watch:
Yep, I’m getting this one out of the way first, because, well, it’s pretty much all everyone is talking about. And that’s perfectly OK, as I think most in Beaver Nation would say quarterback and offensive line are the two biggest concerns going into this season. After a week of spring practice, it seems that it’s two-man race between incumbent Marcus McMaryion and newcomer Jake Luton, with Darell Garretson behind them. Will Luton emerge as the guy, or will McMaryion hold onto the job? Luton oozes big-play potential, but McMaryion knows the system and has the respect of his teammates. It would be great if this battle is settled by the end of spring practice, but don’t be surprised if it rages into fall camp.
Speaking of the big boys up front, with all the hoopla surrounding the quarterback position, it’s easy to forget that the Beavers have to replace three starters this season. That’s never simple task, unless you are Alabama or USC, which unfortunately OSU is not. Returners such as Gus Lavaka and Blake Brandel must continue to improve, while the time is right for players like Trent Moore to make a push for a starting spot. But let’s be honest, the big news is at center, where Sumner Houston is trying to become the starter after switching from defensive line. By all accounts, he’s sharp and a hard worker, but it’s a lot to ask of someone to take over the most important position on the line in a span of one offseason. Will Yanni Demogerontas end up reclaiming the starting center job that he held early last season?
You can argue that this unit was the most disappointing one for the Beavers last season, regardless if it wasn’t entirely the players’ faults. That’s why it’s not entirely out of the question that the Beavers could feature all new starters this year at wide receiver, despite returning Jordan Villamin, Timmy Hernandez, and Hunter Jarmon. But the good news for those three is they get to work with new receivers coach Jason Phillips this spring, and hopefully he can help them hit the ground running. But early signee Isaiah Hodgins is also in the mix and could push those guys. Fall camp will definitely bring more competition as five more wide receivers could join the mix. Could you imagine if Kolby Taylor could go this spring?
One side of the field is locked down, thanks to Xavier Crawford, who came out of nowhere last year to en route to earning freshman All-America honors. So, who will step up this offseason to fill the void left by Treston Decoud? I’d love to be able to see the battle right now between Dwayne Williams and Christian Wallace. And it will only get better this fall when Jay Irvine is healthy and in the mix too. Williams was battling Crawford last fall before he got hurt, so will this be his year?
Here’s what we know so far… The defense (not surprisingly) is ahead of the offense, as the offense has struggled with going more uptempo. As a result, the quarterback play has been inconsistent at times. To be fair, the Oregon State defense seems primed to build even more on its promising campaign from a year ago, especially among the linebacker ranks. With that in mind, expect many positions battles to last into fall camp. That said, are there any other position battles you’re interested to see play out?