Five big questions for Beavs' fall camp

OREGON STATE IS drawing some dark horse consideration this August. The mainstream media has the Beavs edging into the top 25 while off-beat blogs have OSU the trendy "shocking pick" to win the conference. From this chair, it does feel like there is an opportunity to catch lightening in a bottle - if the 2013 Beavers can answer these five questions...

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It's that time again.. the dog days of summer are drawing to a close and if you've been outside the last couple days in the Corvallis/Portland area you probably thought the same thing your intrepid scribe did: This feels like football weather.

That little morning chill in the air as we scoot into August is disquieting for the sun-worshippers who mourn summer's inevitable passing, but for the football fanatics among us it's at worst a mixed feeling -- knowing the warm weather is coming to a close but relishing waking up at 5:30am on Saturdays to get the coffee brewing, switching on College Gameday and counting the minutes until the Beaver kickoff.

But first, there is fall camp to tackle and with it, some uncertainties.

Here are the 5 things to watch for in Fall Camp:

Number One With a Bullet: The QB Controversy.
There's not a lot to say about the QB Controversy that hasn't already been said. If you're not reading all of your BF.C links -- as in here and here -- then there you missed some important nuggets -- but chief among them was this one: Mike Riley has made a decision on the QB, but he isn't saying who the starter is...

So who is going to get the majority of the reps in fall camp, Sean Mannion or Cody Vaz? The BF.C forums have spent the entire winter, spring and summer debating the upside and downside of each and in minute detail, and now it is time to see where the rubber meets the road. But that might still take a bit longer as Riley could split the reps 50-50 the first couple weeks of camp, before the lion's share shifts over to his starter.

Bottom line is that most of the Pac-12 is looking at OSU's QB race and thinking, as they say in country music, I'd Like To Have A Problem Like That.

Number Two and Not Far Behind: The Defensive Tackle Situation.
Lots of fretting going on over at the BF.C forums regarding whether or not Messrs. Kyle Peko and Charles Tuaau are going to make it in... especially since Riley made it official that Lyndon Tulimasealii ain't comin' to CorVegas this fall. Past history has shown us word on Peko and Tuaau could come down at any moment, or it could drag out a few more days.

The good news is that Mana Rosa is fully academically eligible and will open camp as the startinf DT alongside fellow senior John Braun.

Everyone oretty much knows all about Rosa, Peko, Edwin Delva, Siale Hautau -- but Braun has received a glaring lack of attention, and that's in part probably because he's primarily been seen as a defensive end. But rumor has it that Braun was not born, but actually cloned in Dear Leader Beav's Secret Lair from a lock of Ryan Atkinson's hair in 2001. Ox Junior has a very good chance at surprising some people and becoming a fixture on the defensive line this year.

Seriously, though, keep an eye on him. He might just be poised to surprise and turn some heads.

Number Three With A Bit of Unwelcome Worry:
BF.C broke the news yesterday that 2nd string middle linebacker Josh Williams had been released from the team for a violation of team rules. Joel Skotte already had a lock on the starting position but depth is now of even more concern -- it will be worth watching closely how Jaswha James and Rommel Mageo (who let's face it, with a name like that, was born to be a middle linebacker) fare, and to see who locks up the backup role and how good he looks doing it.

Your humble scribe's opinion is that there will be a lot of nickle packages and the 4-2-5 alignment will be employed liberally this fall to minimize the lack of depth at the MIK backer position.

Number Four Is About Confirming A Suspicion:
Third round NFL draft pick Markus Wheaton has left some pretty big shoes to fill, there is no doubt about it. There's also a very good feeling about Brandin Cooks accepting the leadership role in the OSU receiving corps.

Arguably the fastest player in the Pac-12 (suck on that D-Thomas fans), Cooks will certainly have a big bullseye on his back this year - and the junior flanker has not shied away from the challenge, hitting the weight room hard in the off-season.

Slotback Kevin Cummings is the Forgotten Man in the wide receiver corps discussion - he should certainly build on his 18-catch, 208 yard performance from 2012.

But the man to watch in my book is super sophomore Richard Mullaney, whom Cooks also named at the Pac-12 media conference as one to watch. The 6-3 Mullaney has been oft-tabbed as having the best hands on the team and will be a very important piece of the Beaver offense this fall.

The suspicion is that Mullaney is poised for an absolute breakout season - how he shows up in Fall Camp will be a good indicator for his potential this season after sitting out the spring recovering from shoulder surgery.

Number Five Is The New Guy:
This 2013 Oregon State Offensive Line is possibly the most experienced unit in the conference.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Michael Philipp had a return-to-form season in 2012 after redshirting in 2011 to rehab a knee injury, (one that hampered the big offensive tackle for most of 2010 after a Freshman All American performance in 2009.) Meanwhile, Josh Andrews is poised for a big senior season in his third year as a starter.

Isaac Seumalo returns for a true sophomore season with Freshman All-America accolades and he's been named to the Rimington and Outland Trophy Watch Lists for the 2013 season.

Grant Enger is the ultimate offensive lineman who toils in relative obscurity - a lot of folks (yours truly included) felt that Enger was Oregon State's best man on the line in 2012. Apparently Oregon State players also felt that Enger deserved some respect, electing him one of the team captains for the 2013 Beavs.

But the one to watch and possibly the key to a big 2013 is new right tackle Gavin Andrews, who checks in at a massive 6-5, 327 pounds and replaces journeyman right tackle Colin Kelly.

In some ways, Andrews is the antithesis of Kelly -- A physical specimen with technique that's still in the developmental stages, as compared to Kelly who struggled with physical assignments like Texas' Alex Okafor but excelled technically for the vast majority of his 2012 season.

And if you have a solid offensive line, you can get away with some other areas not being as solid.

Send your comments, kvetches, nitpicks and pictures of dnorz on the side of a milk carton to

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