This is the 10th in a series reviewing spring football camps in the Pac-12. Today, Oregon State.
Starters returning – 15 (7 on offense, 8 on defense), plus PK Trevor Romaine.
Refresher on 2011 – It began disastrously in the season opener, when OSU lost to FCS Sacramento State in overtime, and when it was done, OSU had a 3-9 record, coach Mike Riley’s worst in 11 seasons over two tenures at the school. Biggest accomplishment was tormenting the Washington schools; OSU beat Washington State by 23 and Washington by 17. Early in the season, Riley made a perplexing call, replacing incumbent QB Ryan Katz with youngster Sean Mannion, who took it the rest of the way. Beavers turned it over 31 times, including 18 interceptions by Mannion, who otherwise completed 64.5 percent. Beavers rushed for only 87 yards a game and allowed 197. CB Jordan Poyer was a multi-threat as a playmaker in the secondary and kick returner.
Coaching changes – Riley coaxed former NFL DB Rod Perry out of the pros when he lost Keith Heyward to the Washington staff, and there were plaudits for Perry’s emphasis on technique. That was the only switch in full-time hires, but OSU also added GAs in ex-Beavers Trent Bray (linebackers) and Mitch Meeuwsen (safeties), freeing up coordinator Mark Banker of positional responsibility.
Developments – There are hints that Riley will now take over play-calling from OC Danny Langsdorf, although it remains to be seen whether that’s a major change since Riley has always had a big hand in the offense . . . One who impressed was early-entrant TE Caleb Smith (6-6, 260) of Kentridge High, another in a line of OSU state-of-Washington products at that position that includes Joe Halahuni and Connor Hamlett . . . offensive line included a total of only eight bodies in spring. Much-awaited is local uber-recruit Isaac Seumalo, who could play any line position. Stan Hasiak, a transfer from UCLA and junior college, arrives in the fall . . . Soph Michael Beaton had a good showing up front and could push for time . . . RS frosh RB Storm Woods (5-11, 202), a Texas product, showed well, especially as a pass-catcher. Last year’s frosh rusher, Malcolm Agnew, isn’t the best at pass-protection and also battles hamstring problems . . . DT is one obvious need for Beavers, with Castro Masaniai (now up to 351 pounds) expected to be a force there, once he finishes rehabbing a broken leg. He’s flanked by promising young ends Dylan Wynn and Tacoman Scott Crichton, who had 14.5 tackles for loss in 2011, with six sacks. DT Andrew Seumalo, Isaac’s older brother, competed well . . . DB Brandon Hardin, whose absence was felt severely last year after a serious shoulder injury took him out for the season, was nevertheless drafted in the third round by the Bears . . . D.J. Welch (6-2, 220) took over an opening at the SLB spot . . . erstwhile nickel back Ryan Murphy appears to have excellent ball skills and looks ticketed to fill only vacancy in secondary at safety . . . among those who sat out of drills were two rehabbing from shoulder surgery – leading ’11 tackler Anthony Watkins (S) and OG Grant Enger, O’Dea High grad . . . QB Mannion was only solid, not spectacular, while backup Cody Vaz played fairly well. Riley wants improved footwork from Mannion and said after the final scrimmage he feels “We have two starters right now,” but hastened to add Mannion is No. 1 . . . 6-5 WR Obum Gwacham looks ready to contribute significantly to a good receiving corps . . . important year for the program, which, after consecutive seasons in which it was one Civil War victory away from the Rose Bowl, has gone 8-16 in the past two.
Spring game – Beavers finished with a controlled scrimmage in which Vaz seemed to have a better day than Mannion, Vaz completing 11 of 21 for 151 yards, two TDs with one interception. Mannion, on the field for fewer snaps, was eight of 15 for 81 yards and an interception. Overall, the defense had the edge on the other side.
2012 schedule – Beavers’ season appears predicated on a quick start, despite a visit by Big Ten power Wisconsin Sept. 8. Immediately after that, it’s a stretch of UCLA-Arizona-Washington State, all featuring new head coaches. Beavers miss the polar ends of the Southern Division, USC and Colorado.