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Beavers Insider with Brandon Sprague

 
Posts from August 2013


Inside OSU - Paul Buker's Teary Goodbye/OSU Preview
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No QB for OSU ... Redshirt Update
Well, the long awaited word from head coach Mike Riley has yet to come down. Once again, another start of another week during Fall camp, and the Beavers still aren't sure who will be under center come August 31 against Eastern Washington for the upcoming season. 

The announcement - between whether it would be Mannion or Vaz - was thought to be coming down at the end of last week. Yet, come Thursday and Friday, nothing. So most assumed Riley would decide over the weekend and pick Monday afternoon. And as practice ended, Riley approached the media circle to let us know he still has no idea who he wants to start. 

So a team that's coming off of a nine-win season and bringing back a lot of talent and has high expectations, still doesn't have, what most believe, to be the leader. The poster boy. If you talk to different assistant coaches and players, it's not a decision that seems to really startle them in terms of knowing who it will be. Vaz did get a lot of reps with the first team offense, but did not have his best day. He threw two interceptions, and Mannion had a consistent day. Not a great, but consistent. So now only time will tell who Riley wants to take the Beavers to the promise land.

As for the patience of the fan base that seems to be getting anxious not having a chosen QB, potential starter Cody Vaz said, "They (fans) have to have patience. I do too!" Vaz also said he believes having this competition is great because it "pushes us." We'll see if it is or not once the season begins.

In other news at practice Riley did announce some names that will not be redshirting this year. Those are safety - Brandon Arnold, Linebacker - Darrell Songy, and Cornerback - Dashon Hunt. Riley also brought up wide receiver/specialist Victor Bolden. He said Bolden is on the bubble as a guy who could play or redshirt. I spoke with wide receivers coach Brent Brennan, and he gave a lot of praise Bolden's way, but he added that if it were his call he'd have more players redshirt, just for a learning and building standpoint. Bolden, by most, has been compared to Brandin Cooks. The potential is there, but he'll need to put on some weight and redshirting might be a great thing in the longevity of his future. Especially this season with how deep the Beavers appear to be at the wide out spot.

As for the guys named, Arnold received a lot of praise from defensive coordinator Mark Banker. He's a quick learner, who's showed great signs this fall camp, and could get some valuable time on special teams, and maybe a couple snaps on the defensive side.

Darrell Songy is a linebacker who was able to come in and make an impact immediately. Now with the temporary loss of OLB D.J. Alexander, Songy could have an opportunity to come in and help the Beavers and give much-needed depth.

Hunt is a shorter corner, but his ability to stick to the wideouts has stoodout. He has the build to play and Riley and Banker have admired how quickly he's been to catch on to the playbook.   
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Higher Ceiling - The Mannion or Vaz Conversation
Throughout the offseason and Fall camp, Oregon State hasn't named a starting quarterback, for a team most believe can win anywhere from 7-10 games. For some, this could be a real problem, but for Mike Riley and Co., it's business as usual and just a time for Riley to really get a firm grasp on who should lead this team in one of the most anticipated seasons since 2009.

The last time we saw both on the field in a game, Mannion was standing on the sidelines, looking like a confused kid who didn't understand why his dad didn't like him and Vaz was just hoping to have two seconds after the snap to look down the field. Instead Riley kept Mannion on the bench and Vaz repeatedly saw Texas DE Alex Okafor's facemask interlocking with his. The season didn't end on the highest note, but what most fans walked away saying was 'Mannion should be the guy.'

Not so fast.

If basing the Alamo bowl performance was the sole reason to pick a starter, Riley missed that memo. Despite throwing two interceptions and throwing zero touchdowns, Vaz still had a rating of 97.48. Most college football fans nowadays are smart. They really know and understand the nuances of the game. Yet, all I heard from the Alamo was Vaz playing like crap. Not, 'man the offensive line was horrid.' Storm Woods, by the way, rushed for 118 yards, but 98 of those came in the first half. The second half pressure and rush of Texas defenders swarmed and stopped everyone. 

However, after 8 1/2 months and with a decision most likely coming Friday on who should be under center, people continue to tell me, the decision is simple, it should be Mannion because he has 'a higher ceiling.' But I have to ask, since I've heard that reason about thousand times, what the hell does a higher ceiling mean?

Most believe since Mannion's a junior, you give him the next two seasons and he'll grasp the offense so well, that he could become an OSU legend and lead this team. Most believe he's just a better player. But is that really true? Do we really know if Mannion is going to take the reigns and be this incredible player? No. Do we know if Cody Vaz can continue his consistency he had most of last season? No. Yet, people continue to believe their opinion on Mannion is the only one that makes sense. And that made me wonder why.

Last year, before Mannion suffered a partially torn knee ligament injury, he was playing well. He led OSU to an upset win over Wisconsin, a big win at the Rose Bowl versus UCLA, and a late-game drive to beat the Wildcats in Tucson. The kid was aguably the best quarterback in the conference in that stretch. No argument from me there. But upon examination of his game and stats, you have to ask yourself, was he really THAT great? He threw seven touchdowns and four interceptions up until the end of the Washington State game. Not great, not bad. He beat a Wisconsin team (10-7) that proved to be overrated and nowhere near OSU's level, in my opinion. The UCLA game was impressive, and the best game of his career, at least that I've seen. 

After that? Not so great. I know most give him a pass for the Washington game because he was coming back from injury. But why? If you're really ready to play, you can't play like you're unsure of your body. Mannion was. He threw four interceptions and cost OSU their perfect season. Vaz, when called upon in that very game, came in and instantly took the Beavers down the field and scored a touchdown, showing most that with the right QB the Beavers were the better team. 

I'm not writing this to advocate for Vaz. I do like Vaz as the QB for this team a little more, but I understand why Riley most likely will go with Mannion. I'm just sick of hearing Mannion has the 'higher ceiling.'

After Mannion returned from his injury he threw nine interceptions and eight touchdowns - counting the Nicholls State game - in his last four games. In his OSU career, he's thrown 31 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. Last season, Vaz threw eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He certainly isn't chopped liver, nor should he be viewed as such. 

My gut tells me Riley goes with the junior. Giving Oregon State a proven back-up in Vaz. And I'm fine with that. I can see Sean Mannion coming out and playing more like he did before the knee injury than after, I just can't continue to hear the term 'higher ceiling' when the two are compared. 

Beavers fans shouldn't be hoping for the guy who has the higher ceiling anyway. They should be hoping for the guy that can break through it, and take them to new heights.
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Morning Headlines - Oregon State Fall Camp
Heading into Thursday's "scrimmage" head coach Mike Riley received a bit of a setback on Wednesday with OLB DJ Alexander - one of the leaders on the defense - suffering a knee injury during practice. According to reports, Alexander was helped off the field, not applying any pressure to the leg he hurt. No word has been given yet as to the extent of the injury, but I wouldn't expect him to play in today's scrimmage, as Riley told the media Tuesday that the "older guys would sit it out."

As for the rest of fall camp, things have been progressing as usual. The injury bug has been kind to the Beavers so far, and I'm sure they're hoping nothing serious comes from Alexander's setback. Backup OL Garrett Weinreich does have a serious knee injury, and although no confirmation has been given, word around camp is, it could be a season-ending type injury. 

I will be down at camp today for the scrimmage, and like you, I'm hoping Riley announces his starting quarterback. The consensus is that Riley will make his decision today or Friday. And with Eastern Washington looming two weeks away, giving the starter two weeks to work with the first unit seems like the right approach. If anything breaks and/or Riley makes his decision today, I will tweet it out asap. 

But here are your other stories/VIDEOs from the other media members who do an incredible job covering Oregon State.

The Oregonian's Lindsay Schnell gives us an update on the split end battle between Obum Gwacham and Richard Mullaney. Both players are hungry to start, and Gwacham, especially, is eager to turn it around and is waiting for that one special play to right the ship. 

The Gazette-Times' Kevin Hampton continues the Gavin Andrews features and gives us a great perspective of who he is as a person on and off the field. Good read here. 

Angie Machado of BeaverBlitz.com does a 1-on-1 with OL Grant Enger. Enger, by many is considered a premiere leader of this team this year. Check out Angie's VIDEO interview.

C
ontinuing with the VIDEO trend, KEZI 9's Stephen Nelson shows us that true freshman Victor Bolden is being mentored by junior WR Brandin Cooks and could be poised to make an impact this season for the Beavers. 

A
nd the Portland Tribune's Kerry Eggers goes into the trenches to give us an update on how the defensive tackles are coming along. A position Riley has admitted might be the most important for the Beavs to fill.
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Beavers Fall Camp Rolls Along
Oregon State's fall camp hasn't exactly been off the wall with excitement, but something tells me that's just how head coach Mike Riley likes to have it. The Beavers - coming off of a 9-4 season - return a lot of the same starters and have a bit of a quarterback controversy, yet, fall camp continues to be somewhat ho-hum. 

The injury bug hasn't bitten OSU yet, except for the knee injury to backup offensive lineman Garrett Weinreich, which has kept him out of the last couple of practices. Riley told the media after practice that he's hoping to get him back and that rest is the best solution. No official word on the extent of the injury or the timetable. 

Senior cornerback Rashaad Reynolds and senior wide receiver Micah Hatfield both sat out due to ailing injuries, but Riley assured us that some of the guys just have some hamstring inssues and it's all precautionary. Wide receiver Richard Mullaney returned to full pads, on Tuesday. Albeit he was somewhat limited, he seems to be fine.

As for play on the field - freshman wide out Victor Bolden had a solid days work. The 5'9 frosh has showed great speed, hands and route running ability. In my opinion, Riley could use him this season in place for Brandin Cooks for the 3-4 plays off he may take. Another newcomer to the program making headway is the JUCO transfer Steven Nelson. Nelson thus far seems like the choice to replace Poyer opposite Reynolds, but with the Beavs playing nickel, senior Sean Martin will step in and see almost just as much playing time. 

As for the QB competition, to be honest, there really wasn't one that was clearly better than the other. Vaz did throw the lone interception of the day, however, he was also the one getting the reps with the "first unit." Riley has yet to make an announcement on who his starter is, but most believe that that could come at the end of the week. Oregon State will scrimmage on Thursday, so we'll see who Riley chooses to go with, and if he'll make a decision at the end. 

I would imagine Mannion is still the guy. Based on what? Who knows. But I personally like Vaz, and with Riley, you never know. Hell, Vanderveen could emerge for all we know. 
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Morning Headlines - Oregon State Fall Camp
Oregon State finished their fourth day of fall camp yesterday, and although it can seem like the storylines are far and few between (most fall camps are this early in), there are areas to focus on for this particular team. The Beavers have questions at cornerback, but still have their senior leader on the other side in senior Rashaad Reynolds.

OSU also has the backfield covered with Storm Woods and Terron Ward, but whose going to help lead block for them? Well, FB Tyler Anderson - whose recovering from a torn ACL - is back at practice and slowly making his return. An addition Mike Riley and Co. would greatly like to have. Enjoy your morning headlines from day 4 of Fall camp.

Steve Gress of the Gazette-Times gives OSU fans an update on how Tyler Anderson is recovering and all signs point to him coming back sooner than expected.

Connor Letourneau - the new beat man for the Oregonian - wrote a nice piece on freshman cornerback Dashon Hunt. A kid who envisions big things for himself and says he wants to have the playmaking ability of recent senior CB Jordan Poyer. Lofty goals, but by the looks of things, he seems focused enough to get it done.

(VIDEO) And Angie Machado of BeaverBlitz.com catches up with senior leader and CB, Rashaad Reynolds to discuss being overlooked, leading the team, and the upcoming season.
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Inside OSU with Lindsay Schnell
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