(CORVALLIS)—Gary Andersen’s first season as the head football coach of the Oregon State Beavers didn’t go too well. The team went winless in the Pac-12 Conference on its way to a 2-10 season that was the school’s worst football season in 20 years. In some sense, the program had nowhere to go but up as it approached its spring game on Saturday.
Earlier in the week, Andersen got some good news when 2015 starting quarterback Seth Collins decided not to transfer to another school as previously had been reported. Even though Collins wouldn’t play in the spring game and would not be returning as a QB for the 2016 season, he is still a talented and speedy athlete the Beavers can use in a variety of offensive formations. Collins totaled 935 passing yards and 575 rushing yards last season, but he will be playing wide receiver next fall for OSU.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s spring game highlighted some new players for the Beavers on offense: projected starting QB Darell Garretson, a transfer from Utah State, threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Those kind of stats will be welcomed in the pass-happy Pac-12, as the Beavers struggled in 2015 with three freshman QBs on the roster—none of them with a legitimate arm.
Wide receiver Jordan Villamin caught two of those TD passes, including one on the fourth play of the game for 43 yards. With Collins potentially lined up opposite Villamin in 2016, Garretson has a chance to put up these kinds of numbers every week of the season. In addition, Noah Togiai gained 107 yards on seven catches, potentially giving the Beavers a nice triple-WR set look in the fall.
This would be very different from the run-oriented offense OSU put out there last fall that struggled in almost every game against top-notch competition. In contrast, running was merely an afterthought or a complement to the passing game on Saturday. Kyle White had 10 carries for 53 yards and a score, while Paul Lucas ran for 30 yards on six carries. None of the other RBs that played did much, although Ryan Nall missed the game due to injury. He ran for 455 yards last season and should be the feature back come 2016. Look for Collins to get some carries, too, on WR reverses, etc.
Defensively, Dwayne Williams had a nice TD return on an interception off QB Mason Moran, and three other RBs on the OSU offense were held collectively to just 18 yards on 11 carries. Plus, Garretson was the only QB to really make a dent in the defense, as Marcus McMaryion and Mason combined to complete just 10 of 21 attempts for a mere 57 yards while losing 16 yards on the ground and throwing that one interception.
There are still five months until the Beavers open their home season at Reser Stadium, and Andersen will use every minute to make this team better than it was in 2015. He’s a good coach with a good track record, even if Oregon State doesn’t get to .500 this year. You can be sure the team will be on the rise again, though, very soon thereafter. This was just the first step in rebuilding the Beavers.