OSU Fall Camp Preview: Quarterback

SEAN MANNION is all but certain to become the all-time passing leader in Pac-10/12 history in 2014, he’s on all the big watch lists this preseason and the Beavs appear likely to air it out this season. But the No. 2 quarterback is always just a play away – how does the depth behind Mannion look?

Promising, but still an unknown quantity.

First, though, the focus is on Sean Mannion.

Mike Riley and new offensive coordinator John Garrett have talked at length this offseason about becoming more balanced and running the ball more. But Mike Riley said that a lot last year, too.

The bottom line is that if Oregon State has difficulty on the ground like they did last year, they’re not going to stick with it. And frankly in many cases last year, Oregon State didn’t commit to the run, with the leading carrier for the Beavs tallying 12, 12, 9, 8, 8 and 7 touches in six games.

Not once did a Beaver running back post 20 carries last year. Some of that was due to shared responsibilities between Storm Woods and Terron Ward but still, for a coach who loves to run, OSU did precious little of it last year. So what about 2014?

OSU had depth issues on the o-line the spring, saw two starters out injured and the running game was so-so at best. And so indications are strong that BeavFans will see Mannion throwing early and often.

Mannion’s offseason focus was on improving his fundamentals, especially his footwork. That should translate to a higher completion percentage if a couple of QB events this summer are any indication – Mannion won the Elite 11 Counselor's Challenge and the Manning Passing Academy’s accuracy contest.

Mannion will dearly miss All-America wideout and Biletnikoff winner Brandin Cooks. But Victor Bolden is a star waiting to happen and Cody Hamlett is a tight end who could explode onto the national scene this year. And Mannion also has sure-handed Richard Mullaney, and he's among the better possession receivers around.

Mannion needs only 1,802 yards to become the conference’s all-time passer. After throwing for a Pac-12 record 4,662 yards last year, his total stands at 10,436 yards, with Matt Barkley at No. 1, with 12,237 hashes. Count on him setting the mark earlier rather than later this season.

And if disaster strikes and Mannion gets dinged up?

The odds-on favorite to win the No. 2 job appears to be Luke Del Rio, though Riley has made clear the competition between Del Rio and Brent Vanderveen will continue in fall camp.

Del Rio looked good at times this spring, rusty at others. He has a quick release but needs work on the fundamentals, his accuracy was hit or miss this spring. Vanderveen has a stronger arm than he’s shown, and Riley said his velocity has improved. But he needs to fine tune his fundamentals too, in order to be able to zip all the throws needed in OSU's offense. Kyle Kempt looks to need a big fall camp to jump over those two.

As much as BeavFans may want to see a resurgence in a ground-and-pound, balanced offensive attack this season, from this chair it looks far more likely Oregon State on offense will go as far as Mannion’s right arm will take them.


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