Gary Andersen heads into his third season as the head coach at Oregon State. In a surprising move after the 2014 season, Andersen abruptly left the Wisconsin Badgers where he led the team to a 19-7 record over 2 seasons and took the Oregon State job. The Beavers needed a coach after their head coach Mike Riley pulled an even bigger surprise and left for Nebraska who had just fired Bo Pelini.
Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, or so they say.
Andersen got his first head job at Southern Utah and the team went 4-7 in 2003. He took a job as the Defensive Line coach at Utah after just one season as a head coach.
Utah moved him up to Defensive Coordinator for his second season there. After a few seasons there,
he was hired as the head coach at Utah State before the 2009 season.
In 2009 and 2010, the Aggies of Utah State finished up 4-8 each season. His third season improved to a 7-6 mark before the Aggies jumped to a very impressive 11-2 record.
The Wisconsin Badgers needed a new head guy after the old one pulled off another very shocking move by taking the head job at Arkansas. They noticed the work that Andersen had done at Utah State and grabbed him.
Wisconsin, under Andersen, looked much the same as they did before with a 9-4 record in 2013 and a 10-3 season in 2014.
The aforementioned musical chairs of coaches happened right after the 2014 season ended. It all got going when Nebraska fired a coach they all considered psycho, Bo Pelini. Hey, I didn’t say it. They said it. Pelini had just come off of a 9-3 record which is hard to justify. But, it happened. Bo’s record in 7 seasons at Nebraska was 67-27. During Tom Osborne’s first 7 seasons at Nebraska he posted a 65-18-2 record, which was only slightly better than Pelini’s. Yep, they thought he was psycho.
Even more strange may have been the Cornhusker hiring of Mike Riley given his age and his coaching record at Oregon State which had been less than really impressive with 93 wins and 80 losses.
Rumors had the Beavers firing Riley after the last two seasons of 7-6 in 2013 and 5-7 in 2014.
The talent level in Corvallis, Oregon was down, but Gary Andersen took the job in spite of that.
His first season was a major disaster with the team finishing with a 2-10 mark and 0-9 in in the Pac 12 Conference play. The Offensive Line makes your Offense go, but you really need good Quarterback play. The Beavers had true freshmen Seth Collins and Marcus McMaryion to work with, plus redshirt freshman Nick Mitchell. It was bleak.
Seth Collins was their leading rusher with a mere 575 yards, followed by senior Running Back Storm Woods with 491. Former Tight End Ryan Nall turned out to be a major discovery when he ran for 455 yards at over 6 yards per carry. When given the chance, he ran for 122 yards against Colorado and 174 against Oregon in their Civil War game. It was the Oregon game when he broke a huge run showing very good speed that he emerged as somebody with a bright future. Wrecking Nall
Ryan Nall lived up to his expectations in 2016, but they just don’t feed him the ball enough and he finished with 951 yards rushing in the Beavers improved 4-8 season. The Beavers had a chance to win 3 more games and they finally beat the Oregon Ducks.
Quarterback play was somewhat improved. Utah State transfer Darrell Garretson started the first 6 games and he led the Beavers to a 2-4 start. Garretson was lost to injury in the Utah game and Marcus McMaryion got his second chance. McMaryion made the most of it and was improved during his sophomore season.
I wrote about Gary Andersen’s coaching history because in the one job that he kept more than 3 seasons, he did get better during that third year.
This is his third season at Oregon State.
Unlike some coaches, Andersen did not sit on his hands about his Quarterback situation. With the 2017 recruiting class, Oregon State signed Jake Luton who is originally from Marysville, Washington. ESPN has him ranked as the 4th best Quarterback in the Junior College ranks behind former Baylor Quarterback Jarrett Stidham who signed with Auburn. Former Alabama Quarterback Blake Barnett signed with Arizona State and former Washington State Quarterback signed with
Jake Luton signed with Idaho out of high school and transferred to Ventura College. Luton is the NFL’s prototypical size for a Quarterback and then plus some. He is 6-6, 220 and he does appear to have a strong arm.
In 11 games at Ventura College last season, Luton threw for 3,551 yards and 40 Touchdowns.
Luton seems to have what the Beavers have been looking for in a Quarterback and he’s even pretty mobile for a 6-6, 220 Quarterback.
The Utah State transfer Darell Garretson is also back and for his senior season. He looked pretty good at times last season, but only finished with 617 yards passing in 6 games.
Marcus McMaryion is also back and he will be a junior with experience. He threw for 1,286 yards after Garretson went down and McMaryion looks to be improved from the Oregon State Spring Game.
Conor Blount might also be in the mix. He threw for 183 yards last season as a freshman.
If Jake Luton comes through, or at least one of the other Quarterbacks is much improved and the Beavers pound the ball with the talented Ryan Nall, they have a chance to be good in 2017.