Pac-12 Networks preview: Oregon State
This post is one in a series of 12 as we visit each Pac-12 school on the Pac-12 Networks Football Training Camp tour. Check Pac-12.com in advance of each school's Football Training Camp stop for a quick season preview ahead of that night's show.
HIP HIP HOORAY! In just three weeks the Oregon State Beavers will welcome the Portland State Vikings to Corvallis for a game of tackle football on the Pac-12 Networks. Mike Riley, the longest tenured and winningest head coach in the Pac-12, enters year 14 at OSU with a Beavers squad that is looking to build on its impressive 38-23 Hawai’i Bowl victory over Boise State in 2013. If you ask me what I think about OSU heading into this season I’ll say, “The Beavs are looking strong to quite strong.” Here we #GoBeavs
- The Beavers return seven starters from an offense that shattered the OSU record books in 2013. Four-year starting quarterback Sean Mannion returns after breaking the school and Pac-12 single-season passing yardage records in 2013 (4,662 yards). Mannion also set new Oregon State records for pass attempts (603), completions (400), and touchdown passes (37). The Beavs bring back their top two rushers in running backs Storm Woods and Terron Ward, as well as five of their top six pass catchers.
- Oregon State’s biggest loss is #Statisfaction Hall of Famer and 2014 Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks. Before Cooks was selected 20th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints, he rewrote the OSU and Pac-12 receiving record books. Cooks broke Pac-12 single-season records with his 128 receptions and 1,730 receiving yards in 2013. He established school records for career receiving touchdowns with 24 and single season touchdown receptions with 16. The Beavers returning wide receivers combined for 66 receptions in 2013, where as Cooks had 128 by himself. Of their top five returning pass catchers, four of them aren’t wide receivers. Tight ends Connor Hamlett (40 receptions), Caleb Smith (25 receptions) and running backs Woods (47 receptions) and Ward (34 receptions) will need junior receiver Richard Mullaney (52 receptions) and sophomore receiver Victor Bolden (six receptions) to take the reins and carry on the tradition of great Beaver wide receiver play.
- On the defensive side of the ball, the Beavers return seven starters and seven of their top 10 tacklers from 2013. They lose cornerback Rashaad Reynolds, but bring back three starters in the secondary with leading tackler Tyrequek Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy at safety, as well as cornerback Steven Nelson, who tied for the lead in the Pac-12 with six interceptions last year. While 2013 was a down year on the defensive side of the ball for Oregon State, the team brings back a ton of experience at linebacker with D.J. Alexander, Rommel Mageo, Jabral Johnson, and the triumphant return of Michael Doctor after receiving a medical redshirt last season due to an ankle injury. Last but not least, defensive end Dylan Wynn will help make up for the loss of Scott Chrichton, who is now playing for the Minnesota Vikings. If the defense can make a big jump in 2014, then OSU will have a solid shot to make a run at the Pac-12 North title and Beavers everywhere will be dancing.
- Awesome Stat Alert! I mentioned earlier that Sean Mannion absolutely #RipsIt (Yogi Roth shout out) at quarterback for the Beavers. Mannion is only 1,839 yards away from breaking USC quarterback Matt Barkley’s Pac-12 Conference record of 12,337 career passing yards (2009-2012). After throwing for a record 4,662 yards last year, Mannion has a good shot to break the record and become the all-time passing yardage king in the Pac-12.
Benny Beaver became the OSU school mascot in 1952, but he wasn’t the first animal to represent the Orange and Black. Which animal was adopted as OSU’s first mascot in 1893?
A) Billy The Bear B) Donny The Donkey C) Jimmie The Coyote
Tweet me the answer @RyanMcGrady and I’ll congratulate you, we can become twitter bros, and we can talk about the greatness that is Brandin Cooks.
(Credit: Oregon State Sports Information Department. Steve Fenk and Jason Amberg are two of the best in the biz.)