Sean Mannion won't have Brandin Cooks. But the Beavs might not have an explosive running game either, not if the spring was any indication.
OSU could still be better there but it's hard to say it would be much more than incrementally better.
And so Mike Riley at some point this season will probably talk about how much he'd like to have more balance but at the end of the day, he's going to do what he thinks is the best chance for the Beavers to score on offense.
And that's going to involve Mannion dropping back.
Mannion threw for a Pac-12 record 4,662 yards.
He had 37 passing touchdowns and completed over 66 percent of his throws last year.
He will likely obliterate Matt Barkley's Pac-12 record for career passing yards (12,274) by midseason - he is
only 1,839 yards behind Barkley.
But as any Beaver fan who watched closely last year, Mannion beat the heck out of subpar competition, and struggled against the better teams with better pass rushes.
As the competition got better, the interceptions went up and the yards, TDs and wins went down.
I'm betting on the fact Mannion learned a lot through that tough stretch. So much so, I think it will serve as a counterbalance to losing Cooks.
Mannion, if I'm right, will find his outlet guy sooner against the better teams.
And he will get through his reads quicker having gone through the second half of the season trials of last year.
He'll keep drives alive, keep moving the chains, rather than chuck it up for grabs.
He might even take off a few times and if he has success there, that will keep those linebackers on the defensive and less willing to sell out, lest they leave open a large swatch of turf.
The pundits think WSU and Connor Halliday, in no small part due to how much they pass, will lead the Pac-12 in passing yardage this coming season. Halliday was right behind Mannion in 2013, with 4,597 yards.
But I think Mannion, instead, repeats.
Now we only have to wait another 95-plus days to begin to see who's right.
Will OSU's Mannion serve up a repeat?
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