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The Case of the Curious Quarterback Room

Oregon State has a packed QB room; but who deserves to be QB1?

Gebbia, Nolan, Gulbranson & Vidlak

It wasn’t long ago when Oregon State Football was struggling mightily to replace Sean Mannion at QB. Seth Collins, Marcus McMaryion and Darell Garretson tried their best, but the offense before Jonathan Smith took over as head coach was a disaster. Now with Smith at the helm, the offense has become a strength and it appears that the Beavers have a healthy amount of quarterback talent on the roster and each guy has multiple years of eligibility left.

We’ve already seen that Tristian Gebbia and Chance Nolan can both be productive QBs; this offseason youngsters Ben Gulbranson and Sam Vidlak are also showing flashes of their immense potential. Conventional wisdom says that the two experienced QBs will battle it out at the top of the depth chart; while the freshman wait in the wings. HOWEVER I’m here to flip conventional wisdom on it’s ancient head. I think the Beavers should hand the keys to the Oregon State offense to a freshman, SOON like sometime this fall. Below is probably how the first depth chart will look at the end of August.

Projected Depth Chart

  1. Tristian Gebbia
  2. Chance Nolan
  3. Ben Gulbranson
  4. Sam Vidlak

The top two guys have the experience, but I am enamored with Gulbranson and Vidlak. I think those guys have NFL-caliber potential and want them to get a shot sooner than later. Below is a quick breakdown of each quarterback and their strengths/weaknesses.

Tristian Gebbia: He’ll likely be the starter entering 2021 (hamstring permitting). He’s experienced, has the trust of the coaching staff and can get the job done. Gebbia might be a high-floor, lower-ceiling type of player for Oregon State. There’s value in that for sure.

Chance Nolan: Probably the most athletic player in the quarterback room. Can make all the throws and still create with his legs. He’s had a lot more time to get acclimated since Gebbia’s injury thrust him into QB1 territory in 2020, but he didn’t look totally in sync with the rest of the offense.

Ben Gulbranson: He’s a got an ARM and has the most ‘prototypical’ size/weight to be an NFL quarterback. He’s talented and got a little bit of game experience; throwing the final touchdown of the 2020 season to Zeriah Beason.

Sam Vidlak: Super young (he should still be finishing high school), not experienced like the other three QBs and he might be the smallest of anyone in the quarterback room. However, I’ve got huge expectations for Vidlak. I like his moxie and think he’s got a chance to be a future star! Jaydon Grant give Sam Vidlak his stamp of approval on social media recently.

So how is this all going to play out?

That is the million dollar question. Offensive coordinator, Brian Lindgren, seems to trust Gebbia and have faith that his best football is in front of him. That being said Chance Nolan and Sam Vidlak both impressed in the spring game (Gulbranson was out due to Covid protocols). Coach Smith highlighted Vidlak’s performance in the spring game saying “A couple of guys stood out offensively. I did think our young quarterback, Vidlak, was able to create and made a few plays... He played with great poise.”

Sam Vidlak appears to have already earned the respect of one of the teams best players and captains in Jaydon Grant; he posted on Twitter “this kid gon be special! Mark my words.”

This quarterback battle is going to be ongoing and I’m sure they won’t name a starter until late August just before the Beavers first game. Despite the injury and limited practice time Tristian Gebbia will likely be the starter, but just know that I’m rooting for Sam Vidlak or Ben Gulbranson to impress the coaching staff this summer/fall. And when they get handed the keys to Oregon State’s offense watch out, it could be electric!