1. The Quarterback Situation
Luton. McMaryion. Garretson. It’s no secret who the three key figures in the Beavers quarterback situation are, but in Fall Camp, it’s expected that the player who’ll get the Opening Day starter job will finally be named. It’s worth noting that Luton did take first-team reps on Day One in Corvallis, but it’s also no surprise that McMaryion had second-team offense rolling when he got his shot out there on the field. So who will head coach Gary Andersen and his staff actually turn the ball over to at the end of the day? Maybe simply whoever has the hotter hand at the moment.
While the old adage goes that “if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks”, in the case of Oregon State heading into 2017, that may not exactly be true. After being handed the reigns mid-season last year, McMaryion was able to rally the troops and end the season on a two-game winning streak, including a notable win over rival Oregon. It seems as though when put out there in front of the big lights, McMaryion has the very real potential to deliver.
As for Luton, the growth and development of the quarterback in a new system and a shortened time-frame (due to illness) have only caused the coaching staff to rave about his abilities and he may end up being the more comfortable option to open the season, with a big arm that can stretch defenses all over the field. However, it’s doubtful to say that only one of these Beavers gunslingers will be given a shot during the season. What Fall Camp will simply do is decide who will march out for that first series to debut Colorado State’s new stadium on August 26th.
2. Re-Shuffling On The Offensive Line
There’s no more Sean Harlow or Dustin Stanton or Gavin Andrews or even Will Hopkins, a colossal 6’ 7” talent who was expected to step into a starting tackle role. So yes, there will be an almost completely new group blocking in front of what is expected to be the Pac-12’s deepest backfield next season and it just may develop into the most intriguing storyline surrounding this Beavers team.
At center, the group will be anchored by defensive lineman-turned-offensive lineman Sumner Houston, a high IQ player who has already made the Rimington Trophy Watch List for the 2017 campaign, before ever taking an offensive snap on the field. It seems to be assumed that Sumner will transition effortlessly to the position, which may not be the case for the rest of the group. While the excitable talent in there, especially in brutally strong players like Gus Lavaka, Trent Moore and even Blake Brandel, the consistency of this group will be their biggest key to success.
Senior Fred Lauina is expected to play an integral part in the offensive line as well, as is JUCO transfers Justin Sattelmaier and Clay Cordasco, who may be thrown into the fire a bit sooner than expected. Of the incoming duo, Sattelmaier may look more of the part of a Division I lineman at 6’ 7” and 300 pounds, but there’s loads of work still to be done with an unproven addition at this level. Yet, with just one month until the Beavers take the field, the growth of this group will have to come sooner, rather than later for Gary Andersen and company.
3. Who Replaces DB’s Treston Decoud & Devin Chappell?
Nobody. That’s the simple answer to the question but in reality, the Beavers will have a lot to prove in the defensive secondary, beginning with first finding players to actually take the field for this group. While there’s talent in bunches at all levels of the depth chart, both at the cornerback and safety spots, the actual implementation of this talent may take some time. Let’s just say, it’s not surprising to read that the first day of Fall Camp went pretty well on offense.
One impact player in the secondary is projected to be Xavier Crawford, who had a break-out campaign in 2016 and could take the leap this season into becoming a potential All-Pac-12 player down the line. Crawford, whose mix of speed, toughness and skill garnered his 70 tackles last year, has the long-term projections of an early-round NFL Draft pick, if he continues to develop as he should.
Along with Crawford, Brandon Arnold is a healthy lock to remain as one of the featured players in the secondary, as is cornerback Dwayne Williams, a reliable and solid piece. Another talent to remember in this mix is Christian Wallace, a red-shirt freshman and former four-star recruit, who missed last season due to off-the-field issues. One of the team’s biggest secrets in Jay Irvine could also take the leap for this group, who could use a splash of much-needed athleticism.
Other names to keep an eye on from this group include Jalen Moore, a potential starter if the situation arises, and freshman Trajon Cotton, who comes to Corvallis via some well-deserved fan-fare. Quarterback turned defensive back Mason Moran is also an intriguing addition to the group, who could grow at a rapid rate as the season progresses.
4. What Type Of Impact Does Thomas Tyner Have?
In one of the stranger stories that will encompass the “Civil War” rivalry this season, the Beavers addition of Oregon (yes, that Oregon) transfer Thomas Tyner this off-season simply adds to the wealth of gifted players now in Oregon State’s backfield. It will leave head coach Gary Andersen with a problem that every coach would simply love to have. How will he spread out the workload among four proven and gifted runners?
For Thomas Tyner, he jumps into the group at the latest stage of the game, with All-Pac-12 stand-out Ryan Nall spearheading the talent pool, along with the speedy Artavis Pierce and TCU transfer Trevorris Johnson providing depth behind him. Tyner, who was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, posted 1,284 rushing yards and 14 scores during his two years in Eugene, before a series of shoulder injuries forced him to medically retire from football. After stepping away from the game for a few years, Tyner is now working on a comeback at Oregon State, as he can’t return to the Ducks per NCAA rules.
While it’s unknow what role Tyner or any other back will have at the moment (besides Nall), the key for the one-time Oregon Duck is clearly health. If the elusive back can be a shadow of his former self, he may be able to help the Beavers during a critical juncture year in the trajectory of the program.
5. Who Emerges From The Wide Receiver Talent Pool?
The known commodity at the receiver spot for head coach Gary Andersen and company heading into Fall Camp is NFL-sized Jordan Villamin, who’s used his 6’ 5”, 225 pound frame to catch 99 passes for 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career thus far. What’s unknown is how the group of talented, yet unproven pieces will fill in around the rising senior, in what could be the seminal season of his career. At the moment, concerns still linger around the health of second-leading receiver (behind Victor Bolden Jr.) Seth Collins and Oregon State also wasn’t helped by the news that Hunter Jarmon, another developing piece, has decided to leave school to pursue a professional baseball opportunity with the San Diego Padres. So now what?
For starters, freshman Isaiah Hodgins is probably the break-out star to keep an eye on in this group, as the four-star recruit utilized the chances given to him during the off-season with a cast of players off-the-field and nursing injuries. However, Hodgins will first have to out-seed pass-catchers like junior Timmy Hernandez and sophomore Trevon Bradford, who have grown to become likeable options for Andersen. Three more names in the mix to keep an eye on are senior Xavier Hawkins, JUCO transfer Aaron Short and freshman Arex Flemings, who could all develop into reliable options as the year progresses. Guys like Quantino Allen, Kaleb Hayes, Andre Bodden and Koby Tripp could also provide much-needed depth to the group going forward, as Andersen will be heading into Fall Camp with a few more questions than answers.