Cole Elsasser-USA TODAY Sports

Hanging Tough Pays Off for McMaryion, Beavers

Oregon State played a full game on Saturday and did what was expected of them in beating Arizona.

Something had to give this last weekend. The Beavers were facing another 2-8 squad in Arizona. They came oh-so-close in recent weeks against WSU, Stanford, and UCLA. Plus, they were nine-point favorites.

Sure enough, OSU exploded offensively en route to 42-17 win over the Wildcats, making it the most definite victory of the Gary Andersen era. There were plenty of standouts for the Beavers in this game: Ryan Nall, Jordan Villamin, Caleb Saulo, Xavier Crawford, etc.

But it was Marcus McMaryion who shined the brightest against Arizona. He turned in not only the best performance of his career, but one of the best in program history — completing 16-of-19 passes for 265 yards and 5 touchdowns! The five TDs, all to different receivers, tied a school record. Not too shabby for a guy who not too long ago was third on depth chart.

Quick show of hands: Who saw that coming?

While I thought McMaryion could have a breakout game against a Wildcat defense that has struggled mightily this season, the thought of him tossing more TD passes (5) than incompletions (3), never crossed my mind. But I couldn’t be happier for McMaryion. He’s had quite a roller-coaster adventure at OSU so far.

He was recruited to Corvallis by former coach Mike Riley, who left for Nebraska at the end of McMaryion’s redshirt season. Last year, he was part of the musical chair game at QB, but led an inspired effort in the Civil War. This spring, though, Darell Garretson was named team captain and anointed the starter. Then after Garretson got hurt/struggled, Conor Blount, not McMaryion got the call.

Yet, McMaryion remained engaged and a great teammate. He’s a tremendous student-athlete who represents Oregon State University and the football team well. Need more proof? Read what his coaches and teammates have to say about him. Or take a look at his Twitter feed. Simply put, he’s a good guy.

It wasn’t until Garretson and Blount went down with injuries in the Utah game that McMaryion got his shot — and against the tougher defenses on the Beavers’ slate (Washington, Stanford, ULCA), he was hardly a world-beater. Even after the Arizona game, his stat line reads: 88-of-150 passing for 1,185 yards (58 percent), 9 TDs and 5 interceptions.

But McMaryion held tough against those tough defenses and picked himself up after getting hit or throwing a bad pass. And through it all, he proved he throws the best deep ball of the OSU QBs, which the Arizona defense found out all too well this weekend. When McMaryion is relaxed and has time to step into his throws, he can get the ball downfield. Just ask Jordan Villamin or Trevon Bradford. Most importantly, he has provided a steady presence for offense that has been hit with injuries.

It makes you wonder if McMaryion should’ve gotten a shot earlier in the season, considering the Beavers’ struggles on offensive, much less getting the ball downfield. The decision to put Blount in ahead of McMaryion was perplexing, because sans one drive, Blount wasn’t that consistent. Bottom line, I can’t be the only Beavers fan happy that McMaryion stuck with it.

And now McMaryion will get another shot at the Ducks, who for once aren’t heavy favorites. That combined, with him coming off a breakout performance, you have to like McMaryion’s chances against an Oregon defense that has struggled most of this season. How sweet would it be if he could be the one at the helm for the Beavers’ first Civil War victory since 2007?

Who knows if a Civil War victory would be enough to boost McMaryion’s chances in what’s sure to be an interesting quarterback race this offseason? Garretson should be back, junior college recruit Jake Luton is putting up monster numbers, and Mason Moran will be coming off his redshirt — that’s a lot of bodies. The Beavers need someone to step up and be a consistent threat at QB.

One thing’s for sure, if McMaryion helps the Beavers knock off Oregon this Saturday, he deserves a shot to be the man next season. That said, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he or another QB transfers. OSU’s quarterback situation has been anything but smooth sailing under Andersen.

For now, here’s hoping that McMaryion’s confidence and swagger from his stellar effort last weekend carries over to this Saturday. If it does, the Beavers could be the latest nightmare for the Ducks’ defense.

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