Bowl game benefit, youth served

A BOWL GAME offers plenty of benefits -- it's a reward for the players and program on a successful, winning season. Fans get to travel to someplace warm. The program gets unique exposure on a national stage and more. But perhaps the biggest benefit isn't quite as obvious.

It's about the practices.

A bowl team is allowed an extra 15 practices by the NCAA. Put another way, that's an entire extra spring session.

The Beavers this year won't get the full benefit of those sessions because the Las Vegas Bowl is played so early in the slate. And Oregon State is currently in the midst of finals week, so the players are off this week. One more day comes off the top because the OSAA games on Saturday at Reser keep the Beavs out of the locker room and off the field.

Still, although they won't get all 15 in, every practice the Beavers do run before the bowl is big -- a decided check mark in the plus column.

And it's because the early sessions will be all about the youth -- guys who will take on greater responsibilities next year, in some cases starting spots, will be running with the 1's under the watchful eye of the coaches.

AS THE BOWL game draws nearer, the starters will come back to their customary roles, the game plan will be put in and buttoned down tight and the Beavs will focus solely on trying to beat BYU and climb a few more rungs on the season ending polls ladder.

But until then, it's about setting yourself up in the best way possible for the offseason and next year.

Before QB Sean Canfield embarks in earnest on his final game prep and on-field appearance for Oregon State, it will be about Ryan Katz -- as well as Cody Vaz, Peter Lalich and Jack Lomax.

It will be about Keo Camat and Devin Unga, listed Nos. 2 and 3 on the depth chart behind starting strongside 'backer, and graduating senior, Keaton Kristick.

The offensive line will lose Gregg Peat to graduation after the bowl game, and Burke Ellis and others will be looking to make their mark now, because the competition for that job won't wait until spring.

And there will be several others likely to take on front line roles in the early practice sessions.

The '09 season will not come to a close until the night of Dec. 22, when Oregon State (No. 16, 20) meets BYU (14, 15) at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

But in some ways, long before the 5 p.m. kickoff on ESPN, Oregon State's 2010 campaign will have already begun.

The Beavs are off this week with finals taking place. Per Oregon State SID Steve Fenk, the bowl game practices begin on Monday and Oregon State will leave for Las Vegas following their walk-through at Reser on Friday.

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