CORVALLIS - During a three-drive stretch in the middle of Saturday's spring football game, cornerback James Dockery and the Oregon State defensive backs showed the potential they have to be game-changers.
First it was safety Anthony Watkins intercepting a pass near the end zone to end one scoring threat.
Then it was safety Suaesi Tuimaunei forcing a fumble and cornerback Brandon Hardin with the recovery.
And finally it was Dockery with an interception and a 39-yard return.
"I thought they played well today," coach Mike Riley said of the secondary. "I thought James and Brandon, particularly, seemed very sound and the safeties were always in good shape.
"They made a lot of plays and we have very good depth at those positions. We have better depth at corner than we've just about ever had and more depth at safety than we've ever had."
The first-team offense scored a touchdown on the first drive of the game, but the offense failed to find the end zone again until the 17th drive.
The corners consistently had tight coverage on the receivers and made it tough for quarterbacks Ryan Katz, Peter Lalich and Cody Vaz.
When the QBs were able to complete passes, there wasn't much running room for the receivers.
"Those guys are good," Katz said. "Between Brandon Hardin and we've got Dock on the other corner, Lance (Mitchell), Cam (Collins) and Suaesi, they are all rotating back there, those are some good guys to have. Even Jordan Poyer, he's doing really well.
"I think it's scary. Luckily we don't have to play them in a real game. The Beavers won today, that's what I'm glad about."
Safety Dax Dilbeck also had an interception and forced a fumble.
Dockery, Mitchell and Collins each started at least 11 games last season, while Tuimaunei started four and Hardin three.
Despite that experience, Dockery said there is still much work to be done before the first game of the season on the road against TCU on Sept. 4.
"I feel like we did a good job today playing in a game situation and not giving up big plays, but just like coach (Mark) Banker has said a number of times, we're still not a finished product and we still have tremendous room to grow," Dockery said.
"I think we definitely took some steps to grow but there's still some inconsistency problems with myself, with Brandon, with everybody back there. So we just have to keep working to be as perfect as we can be and just get better each practice."
The secondary did have a lot of help from the guys up front as the defensive line was able to put some pressure on the quarterbacks, especially Taylor Henry, who had four sacks.
"Those guys are going to be a lot better than they were last year and that's going to help us across the board," Dockery said of the front four.
Dockery said it was a productive spring for the secondary and they will be ready to return in August and continue to get better.
"We understand it's going to take a lot of hard work in the weight room and the film room, just understanding concepts and just growing as a unit to be the best we can be this year," he said.
"We want to be able to get the ball back to the offense and dominate games so we can win."