Oregon State's Spring Game — Er, Practice
By Colin Huber
A decent mass of Beavers fans showed up to Oregon State’s spring game last Friday looking for any sort of glimpse at what’s to become of the depth chart this year.
They didn’t get much.
In front of a West Coast audience (Pac-12 Network), Mike Riley and Co. ... practiced. They kept it simple, ran some drills, let the kickers kick, practiced punt team and attempted just more than a half dozen offense-vs-defense series.
Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz, the front-runners for quarterback, took a series each, as Riley stuck to his script: about 25 snaps for the starters.
Mannion completed 8-of-11 passes for 67 yards, while Vaz went 4-6, 59 yards. Neither concocted touchdown drives, sputtering in the red zone. Mannion, notably, tossed an interception to safety Ryan Murphy in the end zone, rolling left, throwing right.
The defense played well, highlighted by secondary play from Rashaad Reynolds, Sean Martin and JUCO transfer Steven Nelson.
Star receiver Brandin Cooks caught a few balls, and showed some serious punt returning ability (the first time we’ve seen this really) in non-tackling scenarios. If Riley pulls away from his conservative “secure the football with a fair catch” philosophy from last year, Cooks could have an impact on punt team.
If anybody stood out, it was redshirt freshman Brent VanderVeen. Fans got a look at Oregon State’s future with the 6-foot-4 prototypical pocket passer. He did, however, show some ability to scramble and throw on the move. VanderVeen, the best last name in the conference, went 15-for-27, eclipsing 150 yards. He also threw a touchdown to senior receiver Micah Hatfield. Most importantly: no interceptions. VanderVeen will have a couple years to perfect his craft, but right now it looks like he’ll be the starter in 2015.
For running backs, front man Storm Woods sat after taking a concussion in practice at the beginning of the week, which opened reps for freshman Chris Brown and junior Terron Ward. Brown stole the show — er, practice — carrying 21 times for 43 yards. Not as productive, on average, Brown was able to move the ball consistently, and aside from a careless fumble, played well.
Overall, the “spring game” was a little bland for fans. I’ve seen a bunch of posts from folks complaining about the DJ (yes, they brought their Friday practice DJ), who pumped mostly rap music through the big speakers at Reser Stadium. Most of the crowd of 8,000+ had left by the end.
Put simply, the evening was probably more useful for the coaching staff than the fans.