Spring football coverage has been limited around here as of late, but my plan is to ramp it up as we move towards the Spring Game on May 2.
The biggest questions the Beavers will need to attempt to solve during Spring camp are at receiver and in the secondary-- two places where the Beavers lost a lot last year.
Darrell Catchings will be the likely replacement to departed receiver/ punt returner Sammie Stroughter at the split end position, with James Rodgers returning to play flanker.
The slotback position is the most inexperienced receiver position on the team. Junior Casey Kjos has limited experience, but is a two-year letterman. Redshirt freshmen Jordan Bishop, Geno Munoz and Kevan Walker figure to make their marks at one of the three spots.
Senior Taylor Kavanaugh, who joined Building the Dam for a two part interview last fall, will be in the picture as well and is a valuable as a punt returner and on the "hands" team. Senior Damola Adeniji has developed into a potential regular in the rotation and like Kavanaugh excels on special teams.... you may remember him from the late-game touchdown reception he had in a 66-13 win over WSU last year.
Mike Riley on the receivers, via Kirkpatrick:
"I see ability, and there's still a lot to learn," Riley said of the young receivers. "It's one thing running a pass route and making the catch. That's good, but then you have to adjust and do it against a different coverage. It's about playing confident. They have a long way to go. But in ability, there have been some great flashes of brilliance."
Gary Horowitz of the Statesman-Journal and Sean Canfield are high on Salem native Jordan Bishop:
The redshirt freshman split end from West Salem High School has ideal size at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, and looked like the real deal during seven-on-seven drills.
After beginning spring practice at slot receiver, coach Mike Riley has moved Bishop to split end, a position occupied last season by Sammie Stroughter. Bishop noted that Mike Hass also played spit end at OSU, and he left Beaver Nation as the school's all-time leading receiver.
Quarterback Sean Canfield likes what he's seen from Bishop.
"A younger guy, but great athleticism," Canfield said. "A matter of repetition is what it comes down to for him."
The secondary is also a question, with the Beavers basically starting from scratch as far as starters go after the loss of Keenan Lewis, Greg Laybourn, Al Afalava, and Brandon Hughes. However, it's not as bad as it sounds, with Suaesi Tuimaunei and Lance Mitchell penciled in at safety and Patrick Henderson, Brandon Hardin, and Tim Clark competing to step into starters roles this season.
Mike Riley on the Secondary, via Kirkpatrick:
"It doesn't seem overly apparent that something is missing, so that's a good thing," Riley said. "It's not unlike the receivers. There are flashes. There's some good play and it looks pretty consistent. But it's a long way to go to get to the games."
It does seem like the Beavers have a lot of depth in athleticism at secondary, it's just a matter of getting the younger guys game-ready.
Paul Buker on CB Brandon Hardin:
Brandon Hardin, who in another life would probably rather be a safety, looks the part of a starting corner at 6-2, 206, with speed. He isn't there yet, but watch him in the coverage drills. His initial hit is comes with authority. He looks strong enough to out-muscle WRs, and he is blessed with excellent recovery speed if he gets beaten.
Cliff Kirkpatrick on Beaver Practice so far:
Day 6 was more of the same same stuff as the first five with an hour of special teams, then position drills, plays run against air and then offense vs. defense.
I jinxed myself pointing out to people that it has been a quiet spring. There are no high-profile position battles going on. There's no stolen sheep or bar fights. Where have the good times gone?
Eight practice remain for the Beavers on the Spring slate... officials are scheduled to be at practice on April 17 and 24.