It has been a tumultuous year for Oregon State quarterbacks. Starter Darell Garretson suffered a season ending foot injury a few weeks ago against Utah forcing back-up Conor Blount into action, only to see him go down with a knee injury a few plays later. The past two weeks the Beavers have gone with third string Marcus McMaryion, hoping to keep him healthy so that they didn't have to burn the redshirt of freshman Mason Moran.
Good news this week, Oregon State will have depth at the quarterback position as Blount has returned to practice with the team.
"Conor won't be the starter," offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven said after the Beavers practice on Tuesday, however both he and McMaryion are taking reps with the first team offense and both are expected to see action in the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
"He's been practicing over the past couple of weeks, but I didn't want to throw him into the fire and do the kid a disservice if he wasn't ready," McGiven said. "It's one thing to say 'I'm ready because I'm tough', and different to say 'I'm ready' because he's physically ready to come back."
After McMaryion has had the bulk of the first team reps exclusively, he is now sharing time with Blount.
"Allotment of practice reps is always the tricky thing as far as preparing both guys," McGiven said. "Second string, the reps are more minimal, but if you're going to have two guys going in you need to make sure they are both ready with what we plan to do."
Going against the UCLA defense will not be an easy task, especially their veteran secondary.
"They are really athletic, they all run really well," McGiven said. "They are good at disguising stuff, and they have some crafty veterans back there who can use their hands and their physicality. They will get into our face and it is a match-up that we need to be ready to face."
Although the Beavers lost this past week to Stanford, McGiven said there were some bright spots in watching the film.
"Take the positives from those games," he said. "There were still some good things that came out of the Stanford game. I told the offense yesterday that 15 points is never where you want to be at if you want to win games, but there are only two other teams that have scored over 13 points against that defense. We're there as a team, and it may not meet our expectations, but we were close against a really good defense."