Oregon State Preview: Offense

Oregon State shows balance offensively heading into the Alamo Bowl.

Throughout the bowl season, Texas coach Mack Brown has given Oregon State coach Mike Riley credit for being able to mold his offenses to his roster strength.

But when looking at the Beavers' personnel, that strength might not align where you would think it would. Sure, the Beavers have an experienced offensive line and a trio of talented young backs. But even with that talent, the main reason the Beavs average 33 points per game lies beyond a quarterback controversy.

For most of the year, sophomore Sean Mannion (6-5 215) has been the guy, with Cody Vaz (6-1 198) providing hearty competition. Both have started multiple games this season. But the old adage about having two quarterbacks and not having any doesn't seem to apply here — Oregon State ranks 12th nationally in Passing S&P+.

It comes as somewhat of a surprise that Vaz is slated to get the start in the Alamo Bowl, though it isn't difficult to see why. Though he's less accurate as a passer, Vaz gives more with his legs, and he doesn't turn the ball over. This season, Vaz has thrown for 1,286 yards and 11 touchdowns to just one interception. Mannion, meanwhile, has completed 64.7 percent of his throws for 2,446 yards and 15 touchdowns. The issue there, of course, is with Mannion's 13 interceptions. Still, don't be surprised if Texas sees both, especially if Vaz struggles early on.

But while the quarterback duo has thrown for a combined 3,732 yards and 26 touchdowns, much of the credit should go to a speedy receiving corps. Markus Wheaton (6-1 182) may be the best receiver you haven't heard of, grabbing 88 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also rushing for 116 yards (at 9.7 yards per carry) and two more scores. Wheaton has been successful throughout his career, hauling in a school-record 224 receptions. But don't double down, or big-play threat Brandin Cooks (5-10 179) will get behind the defense. Cooks has 64 catches for 1,120 yards (17.5 per catch) and five touchdowns this season. Kevin Cummings (6-1 181) is the primary slot receiver, though the next two receivers are an H-back and a running back.

That running back is redshirt freshman Storm Woods (6-0 202), who in addition to catching 37 passes for 291 yards, rushed for 822 yards and 11 touchdowns in 11 games. If Woods's name sounds familiar, it should — he was a star running back for Pflugerville before leaving for the Northwest. He's backed up by two good sophomore runners. Terron Ward (5-7 195) has rushed for 390 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Malcolm Agnew (5-9 204) has added another 269 yards. When the Beavers utilize a fullback, it will be Clayton York (6-0 238).

H-Back Connor Hamlett (6-7 259) has tremendous size, and he's a capable receiver, making 27 catches for 333 yards and three touchdowns. Colby Prince (6-5 257) is the primary tight end. He caught 18 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown.

Four of Oregon State's offensive linemen have at least 18 career starts, with three boasting 20 or more. But that experience hasn't always translated into production, with the Beavers rushing for just 3.8 yards per carry and allowing 23 sacks. Right guard Grant Enger (6-6 293) may be the best of the bunch, earning Pac-12 Honorable Mention. Michael Philipp (6-4 315) and Colin Kelly (6-5 295) are the left and right tackles, respectively, while Josh Andrews (6-3 297) plays guard opposite Enger. Isaac Seumalo (6-3 302) is a true freshman starter at center. Derek Nielsen (6-4 286) is the primary backup at all five offensive line spots, and he replaced Enger in the starting lineup when the guard was out injured.

Placekicker Trevor Romaine (6-0 200) had an outstanding year, making 14-of-16 field goals, including 5-of-6 from 40-plus yards. Romaine closed out especially strong, making his last 10 field goals. Ward (5-7 195) is the primary kickoff returner with Jordan Poyer (6-0 190) though the Beavers haven't been especially deadly in the return game, averaging 18.3 yards per kickoff return and 5.3 yards per punt return, with no touchdowns in either phase.

Horns Digest Top Stories