OSU junior on track to enter Pac-12 record books

by: COURTESY OF KARL MAASDAM/OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY - The performance of Oregon State's Sean Mannion through the first half of the 2013 season has impressed former Beaver quarterbacks, from Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker to OSU assistant coach Lyle Moevao.Sean Mannion has put himself on the national radar with a sensational half season of football.

Oregon State’s junior quarterback, who leads the nation in passing yardage (2,513) and touchdown passes (25), is on pace to set Pac-12 records in each category. The conference marks are 4,458 yards by Washington’s Cody Pickett in 2002 and 39 TD passes by USC’s Matt Barkley in 2011.

Among those who have noticed Mannion’s play are many who served as OSU signal-callers before him. Following are observations from Beaver greats who have walked in Mannion’s shoes:

  • TERRY BAKER, 1960-62. Heisman Trophy winner, Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Played three NFL seasons. Baker, 72, is a retired attorney living in Portland.BAKER

    “I’ve watched most of Sean’s games this season and it seems like he and (Brandin) Cooks are the team, right? Well, I’m exaggerating. It’s a team game. It’s not fair to say it’s just been him and Cooks. But Sean has been fantastic. You wonder how long he can carry a team without a running game. Eventually you run into some bad weather or something.

    “He has played much better this year. He hasn’t made some of those silly mistakes as in the past when he has panicked. He probably isn’t getting the recognition he deserves because Oregon State lost the first game and everybody wrote us off.

    “The best thing he has going for him is his arm. If I had his arm, I could probably still be playing. The part I worry about is his lack of mobility. You see the evolution of the game at the college and pro level and see how important that is for a quarterback. Even so, you can’t sell short what he has accomplished so far. He’s getting good protection from the line. It’s certainly been fun to watch him pick apart defenses.”

  • STEVE PREECE, 1966-68. Quarterbacked the “Giant Killers,” was 14-5-1 as a starter in ‘67 and ‘68. Played nine NFL seasons as defensive back. Preece, 66, is a commercial broker and developer living in Portland. Works as an analyst on OSU pre-game radio and for Comcast on #Beaverfootball show.

    “Sean is playing about as well as you could possibly play. He had a bad day for him against Washington State, and he almost eclipsed both my junior and senior year passing stats in one game. He is still doing a couple of little things wrong. He has always had a tendency to lean back when he gets a little pressure so his ball isn’t as forceful, but he is still absolutely on the money most of the time. It’s astonishing to me the passes he is throwing, and he is getting unbelievable support from his receivers. Whatever (coach) Brent Brennan is doing with those guys is terrific. Other than the Colorado game, they’ve caught everything Sean has thrown their way.

    PREECE“Sean is night and day better than in the past. He is reading defenses better, getting rid of the ball quicker. He knows where he’s going pre-snap but is able to adjust. Last year, he made up his mind before he got to the line of scrimmage. That’s not the case this year. He does a good job of going through the progressions. He has learned to drop the ball off, and not just on designed drop-offs, but on check-downs. That’s your lifeblood as a quarterback. He is playing well and it seems like he is leading unbelievably well. I’ve seen him on the sidelines talking to teammates when it’s appropriate.

    “He is really doing a marvelous job. And I love that he deflects all the attention. Humility is one of the most important things at that position. He understands that. A lot of it has to do with him being a coach’s kid. I love the way Brandin and Sean talk about each other. What rapport they have. With the year he’s having, if we could beat a couple of really good teams down the stretch, he could be in the mix for the Heisman.”

  • DEREK ANDERSON, 2001-04. Owns many school passing records, including single-season passing yardage (4,058, 2003), touchdown passes (29, 2004), career passing yardage (11,249), and TD passes (79). Anderson, 30, is in his 10th NFL season, having played in the 2008 Pro Bowl. He currently serves as backup to Cam Newton with Carolina. Mannion broke Anderson’s single-game passing yardage record vs. Washington State last Saturday.

    “I watched the first half of the Wazoo game, then went to bed. I heard the next day Sean got my record. He should have them all before he is through at the pace he is going. I watched the Colorado game from the OSU sidelines. He is playing with a lot of confidence. He is very smart. The ball moves to the right spots. He doesn’t force a lot of things. It puts a lot of pressure on him to make a lot of important decisions with them not being able to run the ball, but he does have good playmakers around TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: JIM CLARK - ANDERSON

    “Brandin is great, and (Richard) Mullaney is very good. As good as his line does pass-blocking, they should be a more adequate run-blocking team as well. That’s a mystery to me. In the beginning, I didn’t think he’d stay on the pace he has, but he’s built something that’s hard to stop.

    “I’ve heard a lot of good things about his dad (Silverton High coach John Mannion), so I’m guessing Sean has soaked up a lot of knowledge from him. Sean is miles ahead of where I was as a junior as far as understanding where the ball is supposed to go. It’s not easy to learn Mike Riley’s system. My first year under Mike was my junior year. I was completely lost. I put in a lot of work and tried to understand it, but I didn’t really understand what we were trying to do until my senior year. This is Sean’s fourth year in the program under Mike, and he has really grasped that offense and what is required of him. He is doing a great job of making the underneath throws, and those guys have been making plays.

    “He’s going to get a shot at the NFL, and he’ll be well-prepared. Mike’s offense is similar to everything I’ve seen in the league except when I was at Arizona. The way Mike teaches quarterbacks, his guys have a great chance to make it and play for a while. I’m really happy for Sean. I’ve met him, and the success couldn’t happen to a better person.”

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  • MATT MOORE, 2005-06. Started at Oregon State as a junior and senior after transferring from UCLA. Moore, 29, is in his seventh NFL season, currently serving as Ryan Tannehill’s backup with Miami.MOORE

    “I watched most of the first quarter of the Washington State game before I fell asleep. Oh, man, what a season Sean has had so far. He has them talking in Miami. I got a text from our quarterback coach about him. What, he is 500 yards and six touchdowns ahead of anybody else in the country? With 25 touchdowns and three interceptions? It’s awesome. He is seeing the field, he is reading what he is supposed to read, and he is making the accurate throws he has to make.

    “I thought I felt comfortable that first season, but you don’t realize the difference until you’ve been in that system a full year and you see the benefits the second year. Sean is only going to get better with time, being in the offense working with Coach Riley and (offensive coordinator Danny) Langsdorf. You can tell he has taken huge steps in the right direction this year. He is minimizing his mistakes. It fires me up to watch it, being a Beaver. I’ve met him a couple of times and can tell he has the right makeup to make it at the next level. He’s going to get his chance.”

  • SEAN CANFIELD, 2006-09. All-Pac-12 quarterback as a senior. Ranks fifth on school career list in passing yardage and TD passes and holds the career completion percentage record (64.1). Played two years in NFL with New Orleans. Canfield, 26, lives in La Costa, Calif., working as a emergency medical technician. Will begin paramedic school in January.

    “All I can say is, wow. He’s leading every statistical category in the nation, it seems. I had a chance to meet him while watching the San Diego State game from the sidelines. He kind of reminds me of myself — a quiet kind of guy, very respectful. I’ve been real impressed. He makes all the throws you need to make at the next level. A lot of his touchdown passes aren’t easy. He’s hitting guys in coverage, in the back of the end zone, especially to Brandin and his tight ends. It’s scary that he’s only a junior. He has a good head on his shoulders. I think the competition with Cody Vaz helped get him ready. Lyle Moevao told me he has a great arm. I didn’t realize it was as strong as it is until I saw him play in person.CANFIELD

    "I started to feel comfortable in Riley's offense at the tail end of my sophomore year, but then I got hurt. Then Lyle took over, and I didn't play that much as a junior. It finally all clicked my senior year. It took some time. The transition for me to run a pro-style offense was more difficult going from high school to college than from college to New Orleans. I'm sure working with Riley and Langsdorf has been good for Sean. They critique everything you do at practice, during games, during spring practice, during (training) camp. It gets regimented in your head. It comes with experience and confidence. I can only imagine what he's going to do with it next year. He'll be that much more confident. The sky is the limit for that kid."

  • LYLE MOEVAO, 2007-09. Shared starting duty with Canfield during his time at Oregon State. Played professionally in France and Japan the past two years. Moevao, 26, is an intern at OSU working with the running backs.

    “Sean’s stats and our record speak for itself. I can tell you, he’s a really good kid. He is always looking to get better somehow, whether it’s coming in after practice and watching film with Coach ‘Langs,’ or asking me questions about little things about footwork or different looks he might be getting (from defenses) each week. That speaks volumes. That’s what you want from the guy running the offense in your program. He has taken the veteran steps this season, and it shows on the field.MOEVAO

    “I caught a few of the games on TV last year, and he’s so much better now. He has confidence in what he’s doing, in what the offense is trying to accomplish. In Coach Riley’s system, it takes a couple of years to get it down and figure out the details. What Sean has done is a byproduct of a great offseason meeting with Coach Langs, spending time in the film room, working out with the receivers. Everything off the field leads up to what you see on Saturdays. He has put in the extra time and is taking advantage of it now.

    “He has a great arm, a great attitude and everything else you want in a quarterback. He has done a great job of taking control of the offense and going out there and playing confident and making the right reads. The times when he seeks me out, I notice he looks straight into my eyes. You can feel him wanting to know more, wanting to take care of all the little things. It’s a great thing to see. He wanted to make sure he had no downfalls this year, and so far, there haven’t been any.”

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