2013 Season in Review: Quarterback

CORVALLIS – There exists a throng of factors, some tangible and others rather vague, that separate a good quarterback from a great quarterback. Play calling, confidence, strength of schedule and perseverance through adversity – all of these come to mind. With that said, does Sean Mannion earn a tally in the great column after OSU's 7-6 run during the 2013 campaign?

QB: where consistency counts the most
Yes there are other factors but at the end of the day, Oregon State's senior-to-be in 2014 has but one thing standing in the way of him being labeled a great NCAA quarterback… himself. Sean Mannion must be consistently effective for an entire season before he earns that label.

You know that old saying about The Phoenix rising from the ashes.

Mannion had a lot of folks believing the adage after he exploded like a volcano during the first seven games of 2013 (EWU, Hawaii, Utah, SDSU, Colorado, WSU, Cal).

Mannion was flat out torching loose defenses. He was a legitimate Heisman candidate.

In a two-month period, he connected on 267 of 335 attempted passes for 2,992 hashes and notched 29 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions.

Those numbers are even more mind boggling when one considers Mannion's stats from 2012 (15 TD's up against 13 INT's for a grand total of 2,446 yards through 10 games played).

But a three-game stretch of better competition scotched all of it against USC, ASU and Washington. After a close loss to Stanford, those next three opponents saw Mannion go on a five-touchdown, 10-interception slide. Still a Phoenix, but with a broken wing.

Prior to the Stanford tilt, Mannion was just one scoring strike away from doubling his touchdown figures from the previous season and it seemed like he had squashed the interception bug with a size thirteen cleat made with titanium spikes.

Once defensive coordinators caught on to the fact that OSU couldn't run the ball, and wasn't even going to try all that much, all they had to do was focus on shutting down Brandin Cooks and pin their ears back on the rush. The result was the Beavs' QB being bullied about the schoolyard.

As poor as the protection was for Mannion, he exacerbated the problem in being slow to adjust to faster defenses. He made a wealth of throws that probably left him wishing football had a rewind button. And his eyes began to come down, as often happens with any quarterback when there's so much heat on them.

In the final six games of Oregon State's 2013 campaign, Mannion threw for 1,670 yards, completing 171 of his 269 pass attempts and accounted for eight TD's compared to 12 INT's. Simply put, Mannion struggled to remain consistent when it mattered most – questionable coaching decisions, porous offensive line and a higher level of competition be damned.

Mannion's final stats on the year panned out to 37 TD's, 15 INT's and a 66.3 percent completion percentage. Those are pretty good numbers. But a great QB has to overcome times when those around him falter, he has to make plays. There were too few of those over the final five straight regular season losses. It was two seasons in one.

From my chair for the 2013 season, I give the Oregon State QB position a solid B-minus
Mannion will wait to receive his pre-draft projection from the NFL and decide before Jan. 15 on whether to enter the draft early, as he should, but it would be a big surprise if he decided to go pro. Most internet draft sites don't project him as being picked in the seven rounds and even casual viewers believe Mannion has skills to hone before becoming a true NFL prospect.

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