Gary Andersen opens first spring practice with Beavers
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Coach Gary Andersen opened spring practice at Oregon State with questions swirling around his new team, including how the Beavers hope to replace prolific quarterback Sean Mannion.
Andersen got his first live look at his players on the field on Tuesday. Practice this year is unusual because it will be interrupted for two weeks for finals and spring break. The spring game is set for April 18.
''They're excited to take the next step into spring ball,'' Andersen told reporters on a conference call previewing practice. ''There's still a lot of newness to everything. What I tell them all the time - it's very easy to start something new. In life, we all start many, many things. But how many people have the ability to be able to sustain?''
Oregon State named Andersen its head coach in mid-December after Mike Riley abruptly resigned to take the top job at Nebraska. Andersen comes to Corvallis from Wisconsin, where he compiled a 19-7 record over two seasons.
The Beavers went 5-7 last season with Mannion wrapping up his Oregon State career as the Pac-12's all-time passing leader with 13,600 yards, as well as a school-record 83 career touchdown passes.
Luke Del Rio played as Mannion's backup last season, but Andersen insisted the competition at the spot is wide open. Del Rio, son of Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, is joined by six other quarterbacks on the Beavers' roster.
Andersen will have to quickly whittle down the group in order to make sure the likely candidates are getting enough practice snaps.
''We have some young men that are talented, but the experience is obviously not there as far as game experience. So it's going to be interesting to watch,'' he said. ''We're going to be patient, but we'll move forward as quickly as we can. As we go through spring, we've got to (start giving) the reps to a couple guys, and I expect that to happen after spring break for the last three weeks of spring football.''
While Riley ran a pro-style offense, Andersen has said he will use more spread elements with an emphasis on speed.
''It's very, very tricky to make sure that you don't just spend all your time learning how to play fast and not learning how to play good,'' Andersen said. ''Because we're not gonna go fast every snap. We're gonna learn how to go fast. We're gonna learn how to go slow.''