The buzz around Oregon St. football in the 3rd day of summer practice today was the reported reemergence of red-shirt freshman Marcus McMaryion as a contender for the starting job in the Beavers' quarterback competition.
That Nick Mitchell, OSU's other red-shirt freshman quarterback, had dropped out of the battle after a poor performance in Saturday's first session wasn't news, and the first reports by certain media members who have never set foot on a field during live action had the sound of a cross between Oregon St. striving to stir up interest, and head coach Gary Andersen trying to maintain a sense of urgency in the competition.
But the Pac-12 network was on hand for today's practices, given access other media doesn't receive, in order to film the session from Oregon State that airs this evening at 9 PM in their series where they are visiting every campus and pre-season camp, including former 12 year pro receiver and USC standout Curtis Conway, who does know what he's seeing when he looks at a quarterback.
"When I got up this morning, I had Seth Collins as the likely starter for Oregon St., but tonight, if Oregon St. had to play a game tomorrow, I'd say Marcus McMaryion would get the start," Conway said.
That doesn't mean it won't ultimately be true freshman Collins when the Beavers open up against Weber St. on Sept. 4, or that Mitchell won't have a mechanics epiphany and re-enter the derby. But it might validate what offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin has been telling people, about McMaryion's persistence in not giving up, despite being told he would be the scout team quarterback following the completion of spring ball, continuing to work hard over the summer.
More likely, especially given what we didn't see on Saturday, its a reminder of what we probably will see, possibly well into the season, from Oregon St.'s trio of totally inexperienced quarterbacks.
Day to day, or even quarter to quarter or series to series, Beaver fans are going to get varying results from whomever is behind center, to an extent not seen since the last freshman to start at quarterback was on the field. That was Sean Mannion, and the Beavers were on their way to a 3-9 season.
There's hope and projection that things will go a bit better than that this time, but maybe only a little bit.
Tomorrow probably won't shed any new light on the situation, but mostly because the Beavers are taking the day off, before a heavy/light day on Wednesday, when the emphasis will be on offense against contact in the morning, in full gear, followed by a shells session later in the day when defense will be what Andersen plans to emphasize.
So don't sell that #4 jersey yet, in order to rush out and but a #3 jersey. But filling out the closet might not be a bad idea either.
Andersen said today that Collins and McMaryion will split the reps in Saturday's scrimmage, but that story could change several times at this rate by then.
Hopefully by Saturday, we will have had the same quarterback have 2 good days in a row; the need to develop consistency of touch and throws with the rest of the offense needs to get started pretty soon, or it won't just be the quarterbacks that suffer from inconsistency.
In other practice news, defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake continued working on what we got a glimpse of Saturday, with Jaswha James working in a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role.
We have seen this before, most recently and notably in the form of Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha, though Beaver fans are more likely to see a coverage guy who sometimes blitzes in James, vs. a rush end who sometimes dropped into coverage, as was the case with Kikaha.
But in both cases, you are looking at defensive coordinators trying to get their most athletic players in the mix, and in a way that allows them to stay on the field as much as possible, therefore allowing them to make a play as often as possible.
With limited experience at linebacker and some other options on the defensive line, its a good way to maximize James' potential.