E. Washington-Oregon St. Preview
Coming off the biggest turnaround in school history, Oregon
State is looking to take an even bigger step forward this
Coach Mike Riley’s team, though, isn’t going to surprise anyone
this time around.
The 25th-ranked Beavers try to get off to good start when they
host Eastern Washington of the FCS on Saturday.
Oregon State came out of nowhere to win its first six games in
2012, matching its best start since 1907. The Beavers, who climbed
their way to as high as No. 7 in the country, finished 9-4 after
going 3-9 the previous season.
“I actually think this team learned a lot about what it took to
win games,” said Riley, whose team finished third in the Pac-12
North division. “Hopefully, they’ll continue with that growth.”
Despite losing star receiver Markus Wheaton and All-American
cornerback Jordan Poyer to the NFL, Oregon State is poised to make
plenty of noise again. The Beavers return four starters on the
offensive line, as well as several key defensive cogs on a unit
that surrendered 20.6 points per game to rank second in the
“Last year a lot of people doubted us, and look what we showed,”
said receiver Brandin Cooks, named to the Biletnikoff Award
preseason watch list. “We’re still getting doubted. All that does
is fuel the fire and makes us work harder. With that being said, I
feel like we can go down and win the Rose Bowl and win this
conference. That’s something we’re shooting for. We set our
After hauling in 67 receptions and finishing seventh in school
history with 1,151 receiving yards, Cooks could do even more damage
as Sean Mannion’s clear-cut go-to option. Mannion beat out Cody Vaz
for the starting quarterback job Monday after sharing first-team
reps in camp.
Mannion, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in
early October, threw for 2,446 yards with 15 touchdowns and 13
interceptions in 10 games – eight starts. Plagued by a left ankle
injury late in the season, Vaz recorded 1,480 passing yards with 11
touchdowns and three picks in eight games – five starts.
“Sean’s attributes are obviously his ability to get the ball
just about wherever you want on the field,” Riley said of Mannion,
whose 64.7 completion percentage ranked fourth in the Pac-12.
“Along with his knowledge about where we’re going and what he
should do with the ball.”
The Beavers are also expecting big things from their dynamic
running back duo. Storm Woods compiled 940 rushing yards and 13
touchdowns last year, while Terron Ward ran the ball 58 times for
383 yards and six scores over the final six games.
Oregon State has taken both matchups against Eastern Washington,
most recently winning 56-17 on Aug. 31, 2006.
The Eagles, though, are looking to make a statement after coming
up just short against Pac-12 foes in each of the last two seasons.
Eastern Washington fell 30-27 at Washington in 2011 before
suffering a 24-20 loss at Washington State last September.
The Eagles, who went 11-3 last year, are 0-9 all-time against
current Pac-12 teams and 8-20 versus the FBS.
“I love being in those environments competing, fighting and
putting it all out there,” coach Beau Baldwin, whose team is ranked
third in the FCS preseason poll, told the school’s official
“Our players love it. Our guys grew up hoping to get recruited
by a Pac-12 school, so when they get a chance at Eastern Washington
to play a team from that conference, they want to show that they
are right there with them.”
After splitting time with senior quarterback Kyle Padron last
year, Vernon Adams is expected to carry the offense. The sophomore
averaged 224.1 passing yards and posted a 165.6 passer rating in
the eight games in which he attempted at least 15 passes, throwing
20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Eastern Washington hasn’t faced a ranked opponent since getting
blown out 59-7 at then-No. 10 California on Sept. 12, 2009.