Today, we move to the Northwest for another review of Pac-12 spring camps with Oregon State.
Starters returning: 14 (7 each way), plus PK Trevor Romaine and P Keith Kostol.
Refresher on 2013: Season began in ominous fashion with a stunning home loss to Eastern Washington, after which the Beavers reeled off six straight victories. Then a hard-fought 20-12 home loss to Stanford augured a five-game losing streak, before OSU redeemed itself with a convincing win over Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl to finish a 7-6 season.
Coaching changes: OC Danny Langsdorf departed for the New York Giants, and coach Mike Riley tabbed John Garrett, brother of Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and a veteran of several pro staffs.
Spring concerns: Resuscitating a running game that has flagged in recent seasons, replacing Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks, filling in some gaps on the defensive line.
Developments: Offense struggled most of the spring, as potential OL starters sat out and Riley, on the eve of the spring game, called the state of that group “a mess.” . . . Isaac Seumalo and Josh Mitchell, starters on the OL, sat out, while Gavin Andrews returned from a mononucleosis-marred 2013 season . . . LT is an issue, and Seumalo, heretofore a center, could play there, as well as Sean Harlow . . . other LT candidates are Bobby Keenan, a JC product who didn’t distinguish himself, and former tight ends Will Hopkins and Dustin Stanton . . . QB Sean Mannion is only 1,839 yards behind Matt Barkley’s Pac-12 record for career passing yards (12,274) . . . Alabama transfer Luke Del Rio was ruled eligible this year and impressed Garrett, who told the Oregonian: ““He did a remarkable job the first day. He was out there calling plays the way they’re supposed to be called.” . . . run game, which gained only 1,227 yards in 2013 in a pass-heavy attack, appears to be led by Terron Ward ahead of Storm Woods . . . WR corps was thin, as Richard Mullaney battled an ankle sprain, while Hunter Jarmon looked good . . . Victor Bolden is seen as a possible replacement for the prolific Cooks . . . a defensive standout was tackle Jalen Grimble, a transfer from Miami . . . Scott Crichton, recent DE standout, will be replaced by Jaswha James, who looked promising . . . LB position, despite an injury that will keep Joel Skotte out for 2014, should be reinforced with the return of Michael Doctor, whose ankle injury early in ’13 caused him to sit out the rest of the way . . . LB Jabral Johnson moves from OLB to inside with the return of Doctor and D.J. Alexander, who comes back from December neck surgery . . . LB Caleb Saulo of Kentlake HS was picked up for a probation violation early in the week for not appearing in court in connection with a bicycle-theft case last year . . . DC Mark Banker liked the work of LB Darrell Songy . . . CB Dashon Hunt dueled with Larry Scott (not the Pac-12 commissioner) for the spot opposite proven Steven Nelson, but Scott was crimped by a hamstring problem late in camp . . . Obum Gwachum, a high jumper once highly regarded at WR, is trying DE . . . Romaine, previously an All-Pac-12 pick but who struggled last year, is getting competition from RS frosh Garrett Owens.
Spring game: In what was little more than a situational scrimmage, there was just one touchdown scored. Jarmon provided a highlight with three catches for 41 yards.
Quotable: Riley, on Del Rio – “We liked Luke a lot in high school. To get him a year later and to have him be eligible just kind of brightened our picture.”
2014 schedule: With a Portland State-Hawaii-San Diego State menu to open, OSU’s schedule looks prime for another big start. A visit to USC Sept. 27 will say a lot about the Beavers. Later, they have four November home games.