When did Ground Mike become Air Riley?

SEAN MANNION THREW 66 TIMES AT ASU

AT HALFTIME, MIKE RILEY acknowledged the Beavers were unbalanced offensively, and he'd like to run the ball more in the third and fourth quarters. Apparently, Riley was just messing with the sideline reporter. Sean Mannion proceeded to set program records for attempts and completions in Oregon State's 35-20 loss. What. SIXTY-SIX pass attempts from OSU? Just what in the heck is that all about?

Sean Mannion completed 40 of 66 passes at Arizona State, both single-game school records, (Erik Wilhelm, 39-for-64, Michigan, 1986), and piled up 341 yards.

All during sprig ball, all during fall camp, at the start of this season, Mike Riley had said over and over how important it is for OSU to be balanced -- how much he likes to run the football, how vital it is to make the defense play both the run and pass.

So what gives?

"I just felt like when we got in the game we would do whatever we needed to win it and it seemed to me like it was throw," said Riley. "Sean had some great plays and some very rough plays. You are responsible for the ball as a quarterback but he was really, really, really rushed tonight so I thought that he hung in tough.

"Rarely did Sean have time to have a second look which was the hardest part of our offense tonight. He didn't have a chance to look at the next guy (in progressions) and especially in the red zone that hurts you."

Um, okay. I understand Riley is going to always try and protect his players. And the ASU pass rush, particularly off the left side, gave Mike Remmers and the Beaver o-line trouble. But there were also times Mannion simply did not make the play.

And that's not surprising. He's a redshirt freshman with two collegiate starts, he's not ready yet for someone to put it all on his back and ask him to win the game. Yet by throwing the ball 66 times, that's exactly what Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf are asking him to do.

Mannion threw four interceptions and frankly, there should have been more had ASU not dropped the ball.

Unfortunately for Beaver Nation, in the short term, there will likely continue to be the dangerous throws into double and triple coverage, a young quarterback trying to fit a pigskin into a door crack. There can still be improvement in that area over the course of this season, but it's most likely that with Mannion, a redshirt freshman, fans will have to take the good with the bad.

And back to that aerial onslaught, the Beavers' red zone woes continued. Oregon State entered the game last in the Pac-12 Conference at 63 percent. Both trips to the red zone in the first quarter ended in a field goal try and make. OSU didn't even try to run the ball when they got inside the 20-yard line, or much of anywhere else.

I realize the Beaver o-line has had trouble opening holes and running lanes, save for the opener. But last night, the OSU coaching staff didn't even try. They simply conceded it. Fourteen rushes?

Did you ever think you'd see a Mike Riley team rush the ball 14 times, and pass it 66?

Of course you're going to try and do whatever it takes to win, coach. But you said it yourself, you have to make the defense cover both the run and the pass, or you're setting them up with a big, big advantage.

And running it only 14 tries, no matter how you slice it, is not going to yield a winning result.

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