Pac-12 spring football previews: Oregon and Oregon State wrap up spring ball
— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) May 1, 2014
Even their spring game is a time for the Oregon Ducks to showcase some new threads, but coach Mark Helfrich isn't treating it like a fashion show. Unlike a number of spring football games, Oregon will run theirs as close to a live game format as possible. They'll be going full speed hoping to showcase a new mentality in starting quarterback Marcus Mariota and a defense led by a new coordinator.
Mariota, who has already proved to be a cool cat, is working on body language. Helfrich wants his two-year starter to be more vocal in order to keep his offense in line, and that's big considering all the talent the Ducks lost after last year, from De'Anthony Thomas to Josh Huff. Meanwhile, the defense can only hope to keep up with the spread attack under new defensive coordinator Don Pellum, who takes over for the semi-retired Nick Aliotti. The former Ducks coordinator is now spending some of his time in the Pac-12 Networks studio.
Position battle of note: Veteran receiver Bralon Addison injured himself a few weeks ago, opening up even more opportunity for someone to stand out in the receiving group. Devon Allen, a speedburner who is also a track standout, and fellow redshirt freshman Darren Carrington could step in to contribute. Keep an eye out for those two in the spring game.
A name you should know: Redshirt freshman safety Tyree Robinson has impressed Helfrich this spring. At 6-foot-4, he has the instincts and athleticism to be one young Duck to win a starting job.
There are a lot of things to like at Oregon State heading into Saturday. For one, the Beavers don't have a quarterback battle on their hands. Sean Mannion returns from a productive 2013 season and the real battle is for the backup position. Aside from the loss of dynamic receiver Brandin Cooks and an injury-plagued offensive line that should be more healthy come the fall, there's at least signs of stability for coach Mike Riley.
And though OSU lost two of its best defensive players from a year ago in defensive end Scott Crichton and cornerback Rashaad Reynolds, there's a long list of returning players – the linebacker group of Michael Doctor, Jabral Johnson, Rommel Mageo and D.J. Alexander is deep as ever – that will make life a bit easier for the Beavs as they look to next season.
Position battle of note: With speedy wideout Brandin Cooks gone, Richard Mullaney is the next man up after recording 944 receiving yards in 2013. Behind him, 6-foot-3 receiver Malik Gilmore and 5-foot-9 wideout Victor Bolden, who will be sophomores in 2014, could work their way into significant roles.
A name you should know: Defensive end Jaswha James has taken major steps forward this offseason. Oregon State could use him especially to plug the hole left by Crichton, who is NFL-bound after starting 37 games throughout his Beavers career.
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