Wow! It’s hard to believe Spring Ball starts tomorrow. And this has to be one of the most, if not the most, anticipated springs in Oregon State history — as it marks the beginning of the Gary Andersen era. In addition to the excitement of new coaching staff, for many players, spring ball represents an opportunity to move up the depth chart, due to graduation, transfers, and departures.
So while most practices will be closed to the public (Saturday practices are scheduled to be open), here’s five things to keep your eyes on up through the Spring Game.
5. Who fills Wynn’s Void?: Dylan Wynn was more than just a great defensive end who did a lot of little things that didn’t show up on the stat sheets; he also was the unquestioned heart and soul of the Beavers the past several seasons. He was a true leader on a team that at times seemed to be lacking in strong leaders. Even better, he led by example. So who will step up and lead the Beavers this spring… and into fall?
4. There’s Storm and then Who?: Storm Woods will be the starter this season for the Beavers, and I believe that he’s primed for a monster year. But it will be very interesting to see how Chris Brown and Damien Haskins do. Brown oozes talent, but has never really gotten a chance to show what he’s got. Meanwhile, Haskins has a lot of hype and upside. This spring will be big for both of them, as they will be fighting to spell Woods, or hopefully, be the second featured back.
3. Revamped LB Corps: The Beavers are replacing all three of their starting linebackers from last season. But the good news is Rommel Mageo has quite a bit of experience under his belt, and Darrell Songy should be back after missing all of last season. Also, keep your eyes on youngsters such as Bright Ugwoegbu and Jonathan Willis. There’s spots up for grabs and plenty of talent ready to step up. So it’s exciting times!
2. Quarterbacks, Quarterbacks, and more Quarterbacks. This one is a no-brainer. With Sean Mannion gone and a new coaching staff in place, all eyes will be on this position battle (But when aren’t they?) . The early favorite is Luke Del Rio, but Nick Mitchell has drawn raves from practice goers. But at this point who knows, there’s a fresh slate for all seven QBs. It will be fun to see the group progresses under Coach Baldwin and Coach McGiven.
1. A Developing Culture: If you’ve been following on social media, Andersen and Co. did a great job of laying out their vision and reshaping the program this offseason — and the players appear to have bought in. So what kind of attitude and approach will the team have this spring? How will the players react to their new coaches, and vice versa? What players will make the most of their chance to win over the new staff?
Needless to say, this will be a very crucial next month or so for the Beavers, not just in terms of the playbook and such, but also for the players to build chemistry with each other, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
What are you most excited to watch this spring? Go Beavs! (RW)