The Pac-12 is blessed with an abundance of returning starting quarterbacks in 2014. With 10 starters coming back, many are wondering if the league is on pace for its best quarterback year ever. This week, the Pac-12 blog will give you a snapshot of all 10.
Name: Sean Mannion
School: Oregon State
2013 passing stats: Completed 400 of 603 attempts (66.3 percent) for 4,662 yards with 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Posted a raw QBR of 68.5 and an adjusted QBR of 74.1.
Career passing stats: Has completed 905 of 1,385 passes (65.3 percent) for 10,436 yards with 68 touchdowns and 46 interceptions. Has a raw QBR of 61.1 and an adjusted QBR of 67.3.
2013 rushing stats: Rushed 34 times for minus-223 yards and no touchdowns.
Career rushing stats: Has rushed 84 times for minus-498 yards and one touchdown.
What you need to know about Mannion: By the time he ends his career as a four-year starter, he’ll be one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in league history. That's impressive, considering the rocky start to his career. He split time with Ryan Katz in 2011 as the Beavers opened that season with a loss to Sacramento State and then got thumped a week later by Wisconsin. It was in the third game against UCLA that Mannion was named the sole starter. In 2013, he set the league’s single-season passing record with 4,662 yards and needs just 1,436 more yards to pass Matt Barkley as the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer. He already owns 11 Oregon State passing records.
Career high point: While not his most impressive game statistically (he’s had seven games with at least four passing touchdowns), the Pac-12 blog thought he showed great poise in 2012 in a 27-20 victory over a surging No. 19 UCLA team at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 22, 2012. He threw a pair of touchdowns and one interception, completing 24 of 35 passes for 379 yards. Afterward, coach Mike Riley called it an important game for Mannion’s development and maturity. That would prove to only be partially true as injuries and a quarterback debate took center stage in 2012.
Career low point: Losing to a rival stinks. Losing to a rival and playing poorly stinks even more. In the 2012 Civil War – a 48-24 loss to the Ducks -- Mannion had just one touchdown and four interceptions. The earlier victory over UCLA seemed like a distant memory as Mannion’s 2012 was accented by a midseason knee injury and some flip-flopping with Cody Vaz. Though the Beavers had one win left against Nicholls State (and then a bowl loss to Texas), the Civil War was a reminder that Mannion still had a lot of growing to do in terms of decision-making.
When he was a recruit: In the 2010 recruiting class, Pac-12 programs signed six of the top 30 quarterbacks in the country, including Mannion. Though he was pursued by several programs, Oregon State was the only one to step in with an early offer, which Mannion jumped on during the summer before his senior season. Standing 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds coming out of high school, size was never a concern and neither was arm strength, according to his ESPN Recruiting Nation profile. “The more you watch Mannion, the more you like him. He is green and has yet to grow into his impressive frame, but as far as pocket passers go in this class, he is extremely impressive in terms of arm strength and most importantly accuracy.”
Opposing head coach’s take: “He’s your prototypical NFL quarterback. Tall, quick release, accurate. Not as mobile as you’d love to have. But at the same time, he can stay in the pocket and really hurt you … he’s tough. A lot of people don’t appreciate how tough he is. He stands in there and takes some big hits, but always seems to get the ball out just in time.”
Scouts' take: An accountable, respectful and mature individual. Strong work ethic and willing to put in the time. Has taken on more of a leadership role this offseason. One of the guys, but not a follower. Can take hard coaching. Will be the only player in team history to be elected a three-time team captain. ... Shows a strong grasp of defensive fronts and pre-snap coverages. Knows where he is protected and where his hot reads/site adjustments are. Flashes ability to work the entire field and get through progressions. Ball security has been an issue throughout his career so far (46 career INTs). Inconsistent decision-maker and takes too many risks into traffic. Must learn when to pick and choose when it comes to taking his shots. ... Lacks ideal mobility and does not have the ability to escape and put stress on a defense with his legs. However, he’s not completely without mobility, as he possesses adequate foot quickness to maneuver within the pocket.
What to expect in 2014: By virtue of their personnel, i.e. Brandin Cooks, the Beavers were much more tilted toward the pass than head coach Mike Riley probably would have liked (63 percent pass ratio). They’d like a little more balance to one, keep opposing defenses on their toes; and two, to take a little more pressure off of Mannion. He’s had the benefit the last two seasons of working with remarkable receivers in Cooks and Markus Wheaton in 2012. Look for Mannion – and the Beavers – to be more well-rounded in 2014. The tight end will likely take on a larger role with the talented Connor Hamlett. And while the Beavers need other receivers to step up, it’s still on Mannion to get them the football. His completion percentage has climbed every year he’s been a starter – as have his touchdowns and yards. Each year you can see marked improvement in his game. And 2014 should be no different.
Erik McKinney and Kevin Weidl contributed reporting.