Spring football practice begins at Oregon St. tomorrow, and it will be mostly kept under wraps. Despite new head coach Gary Andersen's early statement that practices would be mostly open for stakeholders to take in, most of the spring sessions won't be, with only the Saturday sessions accessible.
As a result, BTD's updates on how things are coming with the installation of a new staff and system, as well as a complete rebuild of the defense, and severe shuffling of the offensive line, not to mention the wide open competition to replace Sean Mannion at quarterback, will be fewer and farther between.
The schedule has taken on a very early morning nature, as Andersen's winter term conditioning sessions were 6ish AM affairs, and during the week spring practice sessions, which will be only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, will run from 7 AM until 9:15 AM. Which might be earlier than most folks would want to be on hand for anyway, and a dramatic contrast to the more mid-day schedule former head coach Mike Riley had adopted based on best fit with academic schedules.
Everyone will be invited to the Saturday sessions, which will be in Reser Stadium, if the weather cooperates (fall back to Truax a possibility), on March 7 & 14, and then on April 4 & 11, and run from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM.
The second Saturday of both months will tentatively feature scrimmages.
"The transition from the first quarter, winter conditioning, into the second quarter, spring football, is an exciting time for players, coaches and Beaver Nation," Andersen said. "It is important to remember with change comes a different way of doing certain things. Keeping traditions and respecting our great fans is very important to us as a program."
"As a staff we also know how important it is for our fans to attend practices; at times it is imperative this young team plays in front of a crowd. However, having every practice open to the public can put our team at a clear competitive disadvantage. We want to do all we can to force our opponents to work hard to gain information that will help them on game day. Open practices can open up a highway of information that at times we need to protect."
Considering I can count on my fingers the number of truly surprises I've seen in the Pac-12 in the last 10 years, the paranoia Andersen shares with an increasing number of his peers is rather disingenuous, and considering the overhaul of especially defensive personnel, its not like there's an impending Rose Bowl run right around the corner.
Time and results will tell though.
The schedule for Spring ball, which is limited to 15 sessions, including the Spring game/scrimmage/fill in the blank type of event, and Andersen has elected to not only split up the days, practicing only on Tuesdays and Thursdays (another way to minimize conflict with typical class schedules), but also the weeks.
After the March 14 scrimmage session, the Beavers will lay off for 2 weeks, for winter term finals and then spring break, and reconvene on March 31.
The Spring game on April 18, which will be at 1 PM, will conclude things prior to the spring recruiting cycle, and most of spring term.
We do know we won't be seeing some Beavers from last season, though, as Andersen also announced that offensive linemen Grant Bays and Garrett Weinreich, safety Zach Robinson, and DE Glyeb Ewing, have all taken medical retirements.
Robinson was a secondary reserve and a member of some special teams, while Ewing, a freshman, never saw the field, but Bays made several starts when healthy, and Weinreich also saw the field in the turnstile system that was the offensive line under Mike Cavanaugh the last couple of seasons.
Bays was eventually demoted when he wasn't struggling with his health, which raises the question of just how healthy he was, which probably explains this decision.
And it marks the end of the Weinreich experiment, which was mostly a failed one, as again one injury after another seemed to be the unending storyline.
A look at the roster going into spring ball doesn't contain many other surprises, but one notable inclusion is Kyle Peko, now a senior, who has perpetually been an eligibility soap opera, one that consumed the junior season of the 300+ lb JC transfer defensive tackle.
It's possible that some further shakeout could occur once spring ball begins to establish a depth chart, and Andersen has indicated he hopes to have a 2-deep identified by the end of the spring practices, but so far, there has been minimal loss of players of any relevance, always a concern when there is not only a coaching staff change, but also a major change of scheme and system.
I won't be surprised to see a quarterback or a cornerback consider a FCS alternative once that 2-deep becomes apparent, given the number of players at those positions, whereas if that happens at the running back, linebacker, or tight end position groups, it will possibly be cause for serious concern.
It will also be interesting to see how Andersen handles information release about injuries and other developments, given that we won't as often be able to see for our selves what is happening. Like him or not, one thing Riley established was that it is possible to not totally manage the message, an approach that works when the wins are rolling in, but will blow up quicker than a Riley game plan against Washington if things go off the rails.
Let the intrigue begin!