Spring Game Primer: What to Watch

It’s hard to believe, but Oregon State’s spring game is this Saturday. And for most of us in Beaver Nation, it will offer us our first close look at the team since the end of 2016 season.

Between a host of players sitting out due to injuries and limited media access, there hasn’t been a lot of hoopla the past several weeks (Could it be we’re still trying to wrap our minds around the fact that spring ball started in February?). So, if you’re planning to be at Reser on Saturday, we’ve put together what you should keep your eyes on.

Offensive Overhaul

It’s no secret the Beavers have been one of the worst passing teams in the country the past two seasons. Enter a new quarterback, a new wide receiver/passing game coach, and a new(?) offensive approach. It’s only spring ball and so early in the process, but it will be interesting to see how all the pieces are fitting together so far. It could be a bit different and usually that can be fun, but be warned it also can mean some sloppiness. Of course, if it rains that could play a factor too. And on that note...

The Luton Show

All indications so far is that the quarterback job is Jake Luton’s to lose. One thing is for certain, he’s a drastic departure from Oregon State’s signal-callers the last two years, both in stature and style of play. At 6-5, 230 pounds, he has big arm that’s been on display in practice this spring. But with that big-play ability also come with a penchant for risky throws and turnovers? Well, you might find out sooner rather than later. Let’s see how the other quarterbacks are coming along, too.

A Patchwork O-Line Coming Together

Replacing three offensive linemen, especially solid ones such as Gavin Andrews, Sean Harlow, and Dustin Stanton, is never easy. No wonder many Blitzers ranked the offensive line right up there with quarterback among their chief concerns for 2017. There may be some JUCO help in the fall, but in the meantime let’s see how players like Trent Moore, Will Hopkins, Sumner Houston, etc. have progressed. Houston has made the switch from defensive tackle to center, so keep an eye on him.

Is the Defense Ahead?

OSU’s defense was far from perfect, but most can agree that it appeared to grow and improve during the course of last season. So it stands to reason at this point, it should be ahead of offense, even if it’s missing some key players. However, let’s not forget that the unit still is looking for difference makers up front. The other pieces (linebacker and secondary) should be fine, but will there be a noticeable difference in the push up front?

Physical Transformations

One of the coolest things about the spring game is just seeing how much stronger and bigger players got during the off-season. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget the long hours players put in to improve physically, not just playbook-wise. For example, I am curious to see how some of the young linebackers transformed themselves the last three months. It could play dividends in helping support the run defense this season.

Where’s Wallace At?

No need to be alarmed, Christian Wallace is still eligible and practicing. The wait has paid off for him and Beaver Nation. What I meant is, it will be interesting to see where he stands right now. He was one of OSU’s biggest recruits in recent years, and has the physical talent to be an impact. And guess what? He plays at a position the Beavers need help at, cornerback. So he should get plenty of reps Saturday and hopefully provide more optimism for the future.

Oh, and if you have time and cash to spare, be sure to check out the surplus sale that starts at 9 a.m. in the Truax Center. You could find some really awesome OSU gear and memorabilia for a steal. That’ll get you fired up and carry you to fall camp. Go Beavs!

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