Oregon State Spring Ball questions, Part I

SPRING PRACTICE BEGINS at Oregon State on March 29, just about five weeks from now. Headed into the 15-practice spring season in Corvallis, a number of questions loom for the 2010 Beavers..

1. How have offseason winter workouts gone so far?
It's a cliché but games are, in large part, won and lost in the offseason. The prime focus at Oregon State this winter is on improving overall strength. They have players who are among the Pac-10's elite in that regard -- Stephen Paea comes to mind, but from top to bottom, Oregon State needs to get bigger and stronger if they're going to challenge for the Pac-10 championship in 2010.

The full offseason answer on OSU in terms of getting bigger, faster, stronger -- that won't be known until fall camp, after voluntary summer workouts have come to a close. But we will get a sneak peak at the end of March when spring ball begins.

Do the Beavs for the most part look bigger across the board? Are there a handful of guys who look to have really attacked the weight room this winter, or is instead a whole bunch of them? Is that translating to the field when they put on the pads?

These and other questions begin to be answered on March 29.

2. What will the linebacker corps look like, and how will they perform?
The Beavs were already going to be without starting weakside 'backer Keith Pankey (Achilles) this spring. And the Beavs lose leading tackler strongside 'backer Keaton Kristick to graduation. And a source close to the situation has confirmed to BF.C what's been floating around the message boards for a couple weeks, that star MLB David Pa'aluhi III is indeed considering leaving Oregon State for personal reasons.

That means (gulp) the Beavs could be without three starting linebackers. Dwight Roberson and Pankey have in effect shared the starting WIL position the past two seasons, but losing just Kristick was going to be challenge enough this spring.

First things first, no decision has been made by Pa'aluhi and it might not be for some time, the academic term doesn't end until March 19. And Pankey is already in his post-surgery rehab phase and has a shot, some say a good shot, to return in time for the season opener. But what does it all mean for spring ball?

Lots of reps for the youth and up and comers. Kevin Unga looked impressive in limited time last season, mostly on the strong side. Keo Camat had his moments, and Devin Unga also gained significant experience. Michael Doctor enrolled in January and while he may still be on the light side, he was listed at 203 pounds as of Jan. 22, he has a world of speed and lateral quickness.

And don't forget about Tony Wilson and Rueben Robinson. Wilson was to be Pa'aluhi's backup this past season but surgery on his ACL scuttled those plans. He was reported to be ready to play in the Las Vegas Bowl and although the official stats don't show him on the participation list, it gives an idea of where he was at physically back in mid-December. Robinson picked up valuable experience in '09, playing in nine games.

Roberson could potentially be the only veteran with significant experience (pending Pa'aluhi's decision) this spring. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Beaver coaches limit his snaps, full contact and otherwise -- they know what he can do. And the last thing they need is another injury to a linebacker starter. Lots of reps for lots of young guys, and pre-spring questions on each will begin to be answered...

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