Spring update: Oregon State

Maybe Mike Riley is sending a message to Sean Mannion. Maybe not. Maybe Cody Vaz just looked good and the coach wanted people to know it.

Most of the questions surrounding OSU's first spring practice Tuesday were about the running game and Mannion, OSU's second-year quarterback. Riley said Mannion looked good, but also made a point -- a couple of times -- to stress that Vaz looked solid as well.

"I thought Cody Vaz had a real good day," Riley said. "I thought it was good give and take. Good football considering it was pretty much vanilla stuff the first day."

Ok, not exactly grounds for a quarterback controversy, but still worth noting that twice, Riley brought up the back-up.

"Sean has always had a great demeanor," Riley said. "Easy to talk to. Not flustered, I thought that was evident, even more so today in the first day of spring ball. He's always well prepared, makes mostly good decisions. We want to do a better job of being able to protect him and being really precise with our routes. And let him continue to grow in decision making and then I think we have a chance to be real good.

"Again, I'm encouraged by what Cody Vaz did today too. I don't want to leave him out. I think like last spring, he looks good to me."

Day 1 also saw lots of new (and old) faces at practice. Some of those include former Beavers Kyle DeVan, Mitch Meeuwsen and Trent Bray, plus new secondary coach Rod Perry who comes to the team with a wealth of NFL experience.

Riley said there was a "good vibe" as the team worked specifically on fundamentals.

"We've been so disappointed the last two years," Riley said. "We went back, spent all of our offseason, a lot of research. What are we going to do? Now we know a lot of these players. What are we going to do with them? We came out here and it was just step-by-step detail, one inch by one inch.

"... Every minute we get to play with these guys out here is super-important. There are a lot of rules surrounding coaching in the offseason and you can't do this until spring practice. It's real important for us when we get out here that we can utilize this time to the utmost."

In other team news:

  • Defensive tackle Desmond Collins broke a bone in his foot over spring break and will not participate in spring drills. He's expected to be ready by August.

  • Riley said he thought running back Storm Woods might be the best receiver of the backs: "He looks great physically, he's fast ... has the best hands of all the backs and he's the best route-runner of all the backs. He's very gifted."

  • Riley was complimentary of all the running backs -- for good reason: "I thought they all looked pretty good, considering they weren't going to get tackled today. They did OK. They stayed on their feet."

  • Tight end Caleb Smith, who joined the program early out of high school, looked the part, Riley said: "You would not know he is the senior in high school out here. I think 15 practices, have a summer to work out, head into fall camp, I'm not sure why he couldn't be in the mix when we get to the games."

  • The team is honoring defensive tackle Fred Thompson, who died of a heart attack last December, with a 92/FT on their helmets.