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OSU spring game 'wasn't bad,' but Beavers must get better
CORVALLIS -- As television shows go, it wasn't an Emmy winner.
As football practices go, it wasn't bad.
"We got out of it what we wanted to," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said after the Beavers' spring game at Reser Stadium Friday night, the windup to four weeks of spring practice.
Scores weren't kept during the two-hour session that was televised by the Pac-12 Networks, and reserves got most of the playing time as Riley did his best to keep his regulars out of harm's way.
"We got our veteran players about 25 plays, we got all the special-teams parts we wanted to see and get on (video) and then we let guys who need the experience play for a while," the 13th-year OSU mentor said. "Those people got a lot of turns."
The only real injury was to safety Ryan Murphy, who sprained his left ankle while returning an interception early in the scrimmage.
"A little scary," Riley said, "but I think 'Murph' is OK."
There weren't a lot of thrills provided the TV audience or the 8,263 fans who made their way into Reser on a spectacular 80-degree day. There were only two touchdowns -- a 21-yard TD pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Brent VanderVeen to Micah Hatfield and a 1-yard Terron Ward run, set up by a 16-yard Obum Gwachum reception.
Veteran QBs Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz -- in competition for the starting job -- each made a curtain call and exited after two series apiece. Mannion completed 8 of 11 passes for 67 yards while Vaz was 4 for 6 for 59 yards.
"Cody and Sean each had a really good drive, take away Sean's interception when he tried to throw a ball away and underthrew it," offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said. "A costly error, but a pretty nice 17-play drive. Cody had a TD drive that had 10 or 12 plays. We got in some good work with them, and the youngsters (VanderVeen and Richie Harrington) got a lot of work, so overall, we got what we wanted."
The starting QB spot won't be won until well into August training camp, it seems.
"We've stated that all along," Langsdorf said. "We want to give it ample time to study it and look at it and have those guys continue to battle.
"If the picture clears, we'll announce it earlier. We went through spring knowing they were going to get equal reps and a lot of good work, and try to evaluate them on every day and throw and decision, and that's what we did. It was really good for both of them."
The Beavers weren't displaying their full arsenal of offensive plays on Friday night, of course. Not with a television audience looking on.
"We were pretty vanilla," Langsdorf said. "We're on TV. Our opponents are watching. We don't give a bunch of stuff up. but we also had some young guys playing. We wanted to keep it simple for them, too."
The 6-4, 215-pound VanderVeen was 15 for 27 passing for 153 yards with one interception.
"Brent had some nice throws," Langsdorf said. "A couple of times he got caught holding the ball. We don't want to stand back there like a statue. He has to play a little faster and cut it loose."
With starter Storm Woods (concussion-like symptoms) sitting out the scrimmage, only two tailbacks -- junior Ward and redshirt freshman Chris Brown -- were dressed, and Brown got most of the work. He had one nifty 26-yard scamper around right end. On his other 21 carries, he had 17 net yards and fumbled once. Not a lot of holes were opened by the second- and third-string offensive lines.
"It was rough out there, but it was good," said the 5-10, 200-pound Brown, who caught four passes for 34 yards and showed some decent giddy-up. "I learned lot of stuff this spring that's going to help me going into fall."
Especially since Riley was holding out injured stalwarts such as Woods, Scott Crichton, Tyrequek Zimmerman, Richard Mullaney, Siale Hautau, Tyler Anderson and Kendall Hill, the youngsters got plenty of time to shine. Those on the defensive side had more good moments, including sophomore defensive end Akeem Gonzalez, who spent a good portion of the evening in the opposing backfield.
"We have quite a few guys who made a move this spring to help our team in the fall," Riley said. "We'll look real hard at our 20 (2012) redshirts and see how they fit.
"All the parts aren't in place personnel-wise, but we know we have to get better. It has to be a daily thing, whether in the weight room or in gaining more knowledge about what we're doing. The guys have to get better as we head toward (August training) camp."
That's three months and change away. Won't be long. Time flies when you're waiting for a college football season.