The Beavers 2013-2014 season was certainly a roller coaster ride. After a stunning loss to Eastern Washington to start the season, the Beavers found their stride as they rattled off six straight wins.
During this six game win streak the Beavers offense averaged an astounding 43 points per game. The offense was led almost entirely by quarterback Sean Mannion who averaged 443 yards a game in this stretch.
In fact, Mannion accumulated over 2600 yards in this period. He also had 26 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions.
The Beavers were climbing up the football ladder and were even ranked in the Top-10 for the polls.
Unfortunately for the Beavers, the second half of their season was not so pleasant. The final five games included matchups against three Top-25 ranked teams.
They lost the last five games of the regular season and fell to 6-6 on the year. What looked like a special season turned into a nightmare.
In these final five games Mannion threw a total of seven touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. While Mannion’s struggles aren’t entirely to blame – most of the blame should be placed on the putrid defense – his inability to elevate his play against top-tier competition certainly hurt the Beavers down the stretch.
Last season, Mannion accounted for 4662 of the 6071 yards the Beavers offense produced. This offensive production ranked the Beavers third in the nation for passing yards per game.
The one-sided offense also ranked the Beavers 118th in rushing yards per game. It is clear that the Beavers offense revolves around Mannion and the passing attack. It is also clear that this strategy can be very successful, as shown by last year’s production.
The downside of this is that if Mannion is off his game, the Beavers are likely to lose. When so much of your offensive production comes from one player, it can be hard to produce if that player struggles.
Without a legitimate running game, Mannion will once again be called on to burden the weight of the offense.
Now a senior, Mannion seems perfectly capable of carrying this team once again. The loss of wide receiver Brandin Cooks will sting, as he caught 128 passes for 1730 yards and 16 touchdowns.
However, Mannion is talented enough, and so is the Beavers receiving core, to survive without him.
With many NFL scouts honing in on the talented quarterback, and hopes for a Pac-12 title among the team, Mannion will need to once again be the leader for this offense.
There is no reason to think he won’t have another very succesful year, however; his ability to elevate his play to match the level of competition will ultimately decide the success of the Beavers this season.