SPRING BALL - What we've learned: Week 3

THE THIRD WEEK of spring practice has produced notable notes, news and observations on Stephen Paea, Tim Clark, Gabe Miller, Sean Canfield, David Pa'aluhi III and more. There's concern in some corners on the secondary and running backs, and others who feel it's overblown. And that's just for starters. Here's 10 things we learned from Week Three of spring drills at Oregon State.

Injuries are starting to pile up. The injury list grew this week as OG Michael Lamb (knee), CB Brandon Hardin (quad), CB Patrick Henderson (ankle) and LB Kameron Krebs (quad) all missed at least once practice. Lamb is out indefinitely while the three defensive players are day to day, though Hardin and Henderson returned on Monday but in limited capacity.

Tim Clark is sliding into a leadership role nicely. With all four starters gone in the secondary the unit not only lost experienced players, but all of the established leaders as well. But Clark has stepped into the vocal leader of the outfit coaching his teammates while also leading by example.

Stephen Paea will need some help. The 6-foot-1, 293 pound player has been dominate in drills driving various offensive lineman two to three feet back on a regular basis while requiring a constant double team. But for the defensive line to be effective the defense needs at least one more player to step to take some heat off of Paea.

Mike Cavanaugh isn't cutting his players any slack. Junior RT Timi Oshinowo was rode hard this week by the fiery offensive line coach and rotated in and out on the first team with redshirt freshman Colin Kelly. Just a guess but this position battle isn't likely to be settled in the spring.

Keep your eye on Gabe Miller. The converted tight end's play on the defensive side of the ball continues to improve with each snap. His athleticism and hustle have impressed Riley and, at this point, looks to have already clawed his way into the rotation come fall. Ben Terry and Kevin Frahm came into the spring as the starters but keep in mind defensive coordinator Mark Banker loves to liberally rotate in guys which, among other things, enables the Beaver front to be fresher in the fourth quarter and in crunch time.

The secondary still has a long way to go. Usually in the spring time, it's the defense that has the upper hand and is ahead of the offense, but Friday's scrimmage showed a young secondary, one who still has a lot to learn. But OSU cornerbacks coach Keith Heyward said it's all a bit overblown. "If you look at (the scores) half of them were sacks, there was one blown coverage and the others were deep balls where walk-ons were going against scholarship players," Heyward says in the Oregonian.

Sean Canfield is settling in. The senior quarterback has looked just that, and his long ball has been particularly impressive and on target. It's never been a question of physical skill or arm strength with Canfield, it's been more about confidence. And the Beavs' field general is showing more confidence on the field and making better decisions than ever before. It's spring ball but it's already fairly clear that if his offensive line gives him time, he could have a very big year.

More questions than answers with Jacquizz Rodgers held out of contact. The Oregon State running game did not fare well in Friday's scrimmage -- Ryan McCants had just 27 total rushing yards on nine carries. Quizz is expected to be 100 percent well in advance of fall camp and if he had his druthers, would be cracking pads right now. But the concern going forward is keeping him healthy throughout the season, and the Beavs will likely want to spell him more than in '08. One of the main priorities for OSU will be to develop a viable No. 2 running back threat and Beaver Nation would be thrilled to see McCants -- and the offensive line -- find a way to become more consistent. No. 3 on the depth chart at running back, Jovan Stevenson has run mostly with the twos but the quick footed frosh has made a favorable impression this spring.

Darrell Catchings continues to impress. Catchings hauled in an eye popping 251 receiving yards during the 100-play scrimmage and had two scoring grabs of 70 and 71 yards. His ability to find the seam and blow by coverage on deep routes has been head turning. Last season, his energy and weight were zapped by type 2 diabetes but with his condition diagnosed and being managed, Catchings has emerged as not just a solid receiving threat but as a true game breaker this spring.

The linebackers were big. They didn't get as much ink for their collective performance during Friday's scrimmage because the Beavs chucked it deep and put up some ungodly numbers through the air. But the 'backers were a big part of why the OSU running game gained but 102 hashes on 33 carries -- an average of 3.1 ypc. Keaton Kristick is getting well deserved preseason recognition but keep an eye on David Pa'aluhi III, he could be very special before his time in Corvallis comes to a close. Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey continue to perform, and battle, at the WIL spot.

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