Spring Practice -- Day 1 -- Quarterbacks Take Center Stage
March 29, 2010
Corvallis, Ore. -
'I was worried about this back in January and February when were having all that great weather,'
'We could probably battle it (the weather) a little bit, but it doesn't make much sense when we aren't in pads,' he explained. 'No use just standing around in shirts and shorts (the first two practices are no pads, plus an additional one at a later date).'
So, that is how the 2010 spring practice session began Monday at Oregon State University, specifically at the Truax Indoor Center. Ten years ago at this time Coach Riley would have had no choice, and surely remembers those days from his first stint in 1997 and '98. But, things are different now on the south side of campus. The area's meteorologists have a pessimistic view on the extended forecast, so plan on more practices of the inside variety on Wednesday and Friday at 2:55 p.m. (specialists begin at 2 p.m.).
Now to the field, well not quite, as starting defensive end senior Matt LaGrone told Riley that he is leaving the team to be with his wife and two daughters who live out of state. Sophomore Taylor Henry, who was expected to challenge LaGrone this spring, now has the first unit snaps to himself. Senior Mitchel Hunt is still rehabilitating from his knee injury he suffered last season and hopefully will be available in August. Riley indicated that LaGrone still has an opportunity to return to the team.
The loss of LaGrone is the third starter, not counting Hunt, who is not on the active roster. Linebacker David Pa'aluhi left the team late last month to return to Hawai'i and senior linebacker Keith Pankey is out until at least August while recovering from an Achilles injury he suffered during offseason workouts.
Okay, finally to the field, the first official day as a Beaver for offensive lineman Michael Beaton from Dallas, Ore., and walkon longsnapper Michael Morovick from Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo, Calif. Both are true freshman, although Morovick (6-0, 206) has been a part-time student at Saddleback Community College. Two veterans were missing today as Anthony and Brian Watkins had travel issues.
A huge media contingent today, quite possibly the most ever for the start of spring practice. Of course most of the eyes were focused on the quarterback position, where the Beavers will have a new starter.
'They have a lot of ability,' Riley said of his quarterbacks, which currently include junior Peter Lalich, sophomore Ryan Katz, and redshirt freshmen Cody Vaz and Jack Lomax. 'Our goal is to develop two starters, but I'm not discounting our freshmen in this competition, it's just a matter of how fast they progress.' (You can hear more of Coach Riley's post-practice analyses by following this link to Beaver Nation Online).
While the eyes were on the quarterbacks, the quarterbacks eyes were on the wide receivers. Everybody knows about James Rodgers - is it possible that he is even more of physical specimen than before? But, Kevin Cummings and Obum Gwacham made quite a first impression and look to be what just might be a pair of starters for possibly 2011 and beyond. Of course Darrell Catchings, Markus Wheaton, Jordan Bishop, Kevan Walker, Aaron Nichols, Geno Munoz and the rest of the cast are going to make life a little bit easier for the first-year starting quarterback.
One note from the offensive line; it was great to see tackle Wilder McAndrews participate in practice for the first time in a long, long while. Everybody hopes for great things from Wilder this fall after battling a stubborn wrist injury.
As for the media; Paul Buker and Molly Blue from The Oregonian, Cliff Kirkpatrick and Steve Gress from the Gazette-Times, Gary Horowitz from the Statesman Journal, Bob Clark from the Register-Guard, Kerry Eggers from the Portland Tribune, a trio from BeaverBlitz.com, Scout.com and The Daily Barometer. Steve Andress from KEZI, Nick Krupke from KVAL and Darren Fabre from KMTR.
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