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Spring Football: Oregon State looks to build off strong 2012

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First Practice: April 1
Spring Game: April 26

We saw Oregon State unveil a new-look Beaver logo during the offseason. When it comes to the gridiron, though, Mike Riley is hoping for more of what you saw last year.

The Beavers bounced back from back-to-back subpar seasons by going 9-4 and finishing third in the Pac-12 North standings. Riley’s team opened the season 6-0 before finishing 3-4, including a 31-27 loss to Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

Like any program outside of Alabama, Oregon State has some holes to fill before it can challenge for the conference crown. The passing game should be fine, but an running game would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Stability Factor (1=chaos, 5=rock solid): 2.5

While there are signs to be optimistic about the Beavers, it’s important to remember that this program was on a downslide until last season.

If Riley can lead Oregon State to consecutive strong seasons then it’s possible to think the Beavers are back on track.

It will also be interesting to see how things go with in-state rival Oregon now that the Ducks have lost Chip Kelly to the NFL. There is definitely an opening for the Beavers to capitalize on and try to get ahead of Oregon.

Under the Microscope: Running backs

Malcolm Agnew departed from Corvallis for Southern Illinois, so there’s a depth issue right away.

However, the Beavers feel confident that Storm Woods, who had a breakout freshman campaign, is set for a huge sophomore season.

Woods rushed for 940 yards and 13 touchdowns on 192 carries in 12 games. Terron Ward, a junior, will be another threat as he scored six touchdowns on 68 carries.

At fullback, Oregon State will likely go with junior Tyler Anderson.

Locked and Loaded: Offensive Line

The Beavers return four of five starters on the offensive line, and Riley feels the program has the best depth it has enjoyed in years.

Former four-star recruit center Isaac Seumalo started as a true freshman last year returns to anchor a line that also has left tackle Michael Philipp and guards Josh Andrews and Grant Enger back.

Oregon State did lose right tackle Colin Kelly and solid back-up Derek Nielsen, who transferred to Sacramento State.

The Beavers are also high on sophomore Gavin Andrews, redshirt freshman Grant Bays and true freshman Sean Harlow.

Jockeying for Position: Quarterbacks

Sean Mannion will start spring camp as the No. 1 quarterback, but Cody Vaz is going to get his fair share of reps and a battle for the starting nod will ensue.

Injuries played a role in the quarterback shuffle in 2012, so a healthy Mannion could lock up the job.

However, neither player put up spectacular statistics last year. Mannion completed 200 of 309 attempts for 2,446 yards and 15 touchdowns, while throwing 13 interceptions. Vaz was just 109 of 185 for 1,480 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Name to Know: Michael Doctor, LB

Doctor led the Beavers in tackles last season with 83 and he gets to the ball carrier fast and packs a serious punch.

The senior will be asked to lead a unit that has some skills, but lacks depth. He did have an interception last year and has tons of experience as a regular on the field the past three seasons.

Spring Will Be a Success If …: the Beavers develop consistency on offense.

There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the Beavers in 2013, but the offense is a key component to another successful season.

The learning curve here is small, but there are small questions on every unit that need to be resolved in the spring (or at least moving in the right direction). Riley plans to stick with his pro-style offense, but he’s also using the spring to incorporate a few intricacies from the spread to help give his program an edge.

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