At Media Days across the country, reporters ask any and every team without a returning starting quarterback about their quarterback situation. While coaches very rarely name a starting quarterback, there can still be some meaning gleaned from the answers they do give. Thursday at Pac-12 Media Day was no different for Gary Andersen and Oregon State.
The evolving Oregon State quarterback situation has been well-documented. After Mike Riley left for Nebraska, Sean Mannion's assumed successor, Luke Del Rio, transferred and maybe wouldn't have been the best fit for Gary Andersen's offense anyhow. Mannion and Del Rio's departures and a couple of other moves left the Beavers with three quarterbacks on the roster: redshirt freshmen Marcus McMaryion and Nick Mitchell, and true freshman Seth Collins.
The most notable of Head Coach Gary Andersen's quotes on the quarterbacks was that despite it "not being his vision," Andersen has watched film on how teams have used two quarterbacks effectively. "Hopefully," Andersen continued, "it goes like (Utah State) again," when Andersen knew Chuckie Keeton was the clear winner of the quarterback competition. "By the time we get to that second scrimmage, we need to have a good feel of 'What direction are going?' And it could be multiple directions," Andersen later said.
Coaches like to keep all their options open, especially before fall camp has even begun, but Andersen went above and beyond the standard noncommittal answers. On two occasions, once during his TV appearance and once at the podium, he brought up the possibility of a quarterback rotation in response to general questions about the quarterback position. Beavers fans shouldn't be surprised if, at that second fall scrimmage he discussed, the team is in fact using multiple quarterbacks.
But Andersen understands the difficulties of playing multiple quarterbacks, saying "What Coach McGiven went through last year to play basically three or four quarterbacks at Utah State was as challenging as there was in the country for a quarterback coach." I don't think the Beavers go through the entire season with a revolving door at quarterback, but they very well could use the season opener against Weber State as a test run to evaluate multiple quarterbacks and potentially have a clear leader when the team goes to the Big House in Week 2. Especially when considering all of the quarterback options are both mobile and less than 200 pounds, there's also a very real possibility that one or even two of them are unavailable at times during the season.
Beyond that, Andersen both expressed confidence in whatever quarterback(s) he puts in the backfield, while admitting that they won't be flawless. "You're going to go through some growing pains," Andersen said, "and as you move through that, you have to be patient, but you also have to have expectations."
"I think I'm way too emotional. I could never be a quarterback coach."
Despite Andersen's claims of inability as a quarterback coach, he does have experience with freshmen quarterbacks, as he coached Chuckie Keeton as a true freshman starting quarterback at Utah State. He addressed possible similarities between Keeton and Seth Collins with a quick "Oh God, I hope you're right."
"We'll see as he goes," he continued, "Athleticism, yes. Chuckie was very athletic. Competitive, both very competitive. High belief in themselves and don't really care at this point. Seth doesn't really care what environment he's in."
Andersen did say that, no matter which quarterback is playing, "we need to control ourself" and "learn how to play in the spread offense, because you're playing against really good guys that would like to see you exit the game or affect the game in a positive way. So they're going to be coming after you."
Aiding in that learning experience, according to Andersen, will be Utah State transfer Darrell Garretson. "Chuckie was a tremendous mentor to Darell as a true freshman," Andersen said, "now we're going to ask Darrell to return the favor to another freshman, and he's accepted that role.
"Darrell will be a vital part of our production at the quarterback position this year through his mentorship."
As for the players' takes on the quarterback battle, Andersen seemed to be correct in saying that "these kids have handled the quarterback situation well as a team." Storm Barrs-Woods, pegged by both Andersen and himself as being a crucial factor in taking some pressure off the quarterback, reinforced his coach's sentiments, saying "the thing that's neatest is how healthy the competition is," and "whoever's behind the center, I'm confident in them."
As expected, we're not really any closer to knowing what direction Gary Andersen is leaning for a quarterback. But we did learn that he isn't merely unopposed to using multiple quarterbacks, he's quite seriously considering it. He did speak at length answering a question comparing Seth Collins and Chuckie Keeton, but somewhat quickly remembered to take a step back and mention the other two possible quarterbacks. As has been said countless times at Media Days, this is truly a wait and see situation.