Vikings Sail Into Reser: Oregon State Home Opener Preview


Head Coach

Mike Riley

and The Oregon State Beavers kick off the 2014 season hosting the Portland State Vikings this Saturday at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Rejoice Beaver Nation! Football has returned.

Mike Riley and the Beavers will look to reverse an unsettling trend in the program’s recent history as they take on the Portland State Vikings in the 2014 Oregon State home opener at Reser Stadium.

While little doubts remain over The Beaver’s overall talent and speed advantage, history itself seems to cast the largest shadow over Saturday’s contest.

Home openers against FCS-opponents have not been kind to the Beavers as of late. Oregon State did trounce the Vikings 34-7 in the 2009 kickoff, however, subsequent match-ups with other squads on-par with Portland State have not ended so gracefully.

In 2011, The Beavers stumbled through an embarrassing first weekend of play, falling 29-28 to Sacramento State in a game that saw the departure of  Ryan Katz and the subsequent emergence of Sean Mannion at the quarterback position. It was a sign of things to come as Oregon State would finish the year 3-9.

2013 would bring yet another opening weekend disaster. Oregon State fell 49-46 to FCS-powerhouse Eastern Washington. The Beavers rebounded with six straight wins and a brief appearance in the BCS standings, before falling back to the middle of the pack during the team’s five game slide that finished the regular season.

Alas, we have arrived at the present.

Sean Mannion looks to continue his charge through the record books in Corvallis and the Pac-12 in what is sure to be another year of a pass-heavy, run the ball when we have to offense. The senior quarterback is well within reach of every passing record he hasn’t yet already surpassed.

The loss of Brandin Cooks to the ranks of the NFL leaves a catches-touchdowns vacuum that will be the responsibility of the entire offense as opposed to just one receiver.

Tight ends Connor Hamlett, Caleb Smith, and  Kellen Clute should all see plenty of action downfield against Portland State.

Defensively, Mark Banker and the Beavers will have their hands full. Portland State will most likely give the nod to incumbent starting QB Kieran McDonagh and show sophomore backup Paris Penn in brief stints. Both are highly athletic and capable of making plays with their arms and feet.

Portland State also boasts considerable experience at both the wide receiver and running back positions. Senior running back Shaq Richard has amassed 1,252 yards in his time with the Vikings and is a devastating one-two punch out of the backfield paired with QB McDonagh.

Mike Riley and Oregon State can rewrite a lot of bad history with a solid win in the team’s Saturday opener. Sean Mannion has a terrific opportunity to showcase the balance of the 2014 Oregon State offense. Establishing an effective, consistent running game from the start will be key to opening up the deep passing attack.

On the other side of the ball, The Beavers must be ready to go from the first whistle. Conceding games to lesser opponents because of an absentee defensive effort is as much an indicator of poor players as it is poor coaching.

Score prediction: Oregon State wins, 38-17.

Positional prediction: Tight end Connor Hamlett emerges as Oregon States biggest red zone passing target.