Last Saturday, Oregon State found themselves in a 31-7 hole against Boise State, headed into the break. It was an abysmal first half that was actually worse than the score indicated. The Beavers were outgained in yards 435-67. Starting quarterback Darell Garretson was “not 100%” battling a leg injury and the offense was a complete disaster. So, what did Gary Andersen and his staff do? Put in back-up Marcus McMaryion or third-stringer Mason Moran? NOPE! Andersen went with true freshman walk-on, Conor Blount, who had never taken a snap with the first team before.
Conor Blount came in and led Oregon State on an 82-yard touchdown drive. After, a successfully recovered onside kick the Beavers added a field goal and suddenly they had new life. Blount finished the day completing 11-of-18 passes for 138 yards and looked surprisingly poised and confident considering the situation. Despite a dominate showing in the 2nd half, the comeback fell short as Boise State walked away with a 38-24 victory. But, Andersen’s peculiar decision and Blount’s successful showing raises some interesting questions going forward.
Who is Conor Blount?
Beaver fans can be forgiven if they had no clue who Conor Blount was before he took the field against Boise State. He was a late addition to Oregon State’s 2016 recruiting class and is a preferred walk-on. The Waukesha, Wisconsin native was not listed on the official depth chart. In fact, Conor Blount was running with the scout team just over a week ago, but he did take some second-team reps during practice leading up to the Boise State game.
Blount originally committed to Wisconsin as a preferred walk-on, but flipped his commitment back in May once he visited Corvallis. He had built a good relationship with Gary Andersen when he was the head coach at Wisconsin and he believed that his skill-set would fit better in Oregon State’s offense.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound quarterback threw for 1,413 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior in high school. He also added two touchdowns on the ground and led his team to a Division II state championship game.
Conor Blount received scholarship offers from Northern Iowa, Indiana State and South Dakota but decided he would rather pay tuition at a higher-level school and try to prove himself on the biggest stage.
Just check out his highlight video. He’s not your typical walk-on.
So, is There a Quarterback Controversy?
No, coach Andersen has stated that Darell Garretson will be the the starting QB going forward if healthy. But, Conor Blount has surprisingly ascended up the depth chart and is now the clear-cut #2 behind Garretson. Conor Blount will start against Colorado if Garretson is not ready, which is a shocking development.
Conor Blount will get some solid reps this week as Garretson works his way back to full strength. The coaching staff is “cautiously optimistic” that Darell Garretson will be good to go against Colorado this Saturday. Andersen has praised Garretson’s toughness in the past and I’d be very surprised to not see him take the first snap against Colorado.
The competition at quarterback should be very interesting to follow as the season progresses. Darell Garretson appears to have the support and trust of the coaching staff, but he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in his first few games. Oregon State’s questionable offensive line has received much of the blame though. As Oregon State kicks-off the Pac-12 portion of their schedule they will need their offense to start clicking if they hope to pick up their first Pac-12 victory since November of 2015.