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  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Beavers spread ball in passing game

    Ten players caught passes in win over Hawaii on Saturday
  • There's no doubt Brandin Cooks is one of the best wide receivers in the Pac-12 Conference, and likely all of college football.
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  • There's no doubt Brandin Cooks is one of the best wide receivers in the Pac-12 Conference, and likely all of college football.
    In his first game this season, the Oregon State junior grabbed 13 passes for 196 yards and two scores.
    On Saturday against Hawaii, he added seven catches for 92 yards and two more scores.
    But Cooks can't carry the load by himself for the Beavers in the passing game.
    And he hasn't had to so far.
    Even with those gaudy numbers, Cooks has had plenty of help.
    On Saturday, quarterbacks Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz spread the ball around to 10 different receivers as the Beavers amassed 451 yards through the air.
    "I think it's been great," Mannion said. "Obviously I got a lot of work with them in the offseason and kind of saw what they could do throughout camp, they all worked hard. It was great to see some guys other than Brandin come in to their own (Saturday)."
    One of the big questions entering the season was who would step up and fill the void left by Markus Wheaton, who is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    Richard Mullaney has had four catches in both games and scored his first touchdown of the season on Saturday. Tight end Connor Hamlett has 13 catches and a score, and Kevin Cummings had two big third-down catches on Saturday to keep drives alive that ended in touchdowns in the third quarter.
    "They expect me to get open on third down, that's kind of my role on this team, so that's what I had to do," Cummings said.
    He also said he feels the coaches trust him, something he has worked on.
    "I feel like they have 100 percent confidence in me," Cummings said. "But obviously we have a lot of packages going on and our tight ends are quality and we're going to feature them a lot. Brandin is a baller so we're going to feature him and Mullaney's starting to step up so we're going to feature him. I understand what our game plan is. Obviously, every time I get those chances I'm going to try to make those plays like (Saturday)."
    Mannion was also happy to see Cummings come through in clutch situations.
    "It was awesome to see him emerge with some huge plays," Mannion said. "I think we had a third-and-long and we hit him on a deep seam and he made a great catch on it. It's great to see anyone succeed, but especially some of the guys who are just coming into their own."
    It seems Mannion has a ton of faith in anyone going out for a route.
    And that includes running back Storm Woods, who has 15 catches out of the backfield. He had eight against Eastern Washington for 44 yards, and added seven more for a team-best 95 yards against Hawaii.
    "Not surprised at all," Cummings said of Woods' production in the passing game. "We talked about that all offseason and fall camp. We were really talking about getting the ball to our tailbacks when we need it.
    "Storm's a playmaker with the ball in his hands. As many times as we can get touches for him, especially when the run game hasn't been as successful as it has been in the past, we have to get the ball in his hands and let him make plays."
    Cooks, jokingly, had some issues with Woods's production on Saturday.
    "They trying to get him more receptions than me," he said with a big smile. "No, I'm happy about that because the guy can catch the ball out of the backfield. That's one of his specialties. Great job by him and great job by coach to get him the ball in the passing game."
    The passing game has been important because the running game has struggled as OSU has rushed for just 162 yards on 57 attempts.
    The Beavers want balance, but also must take what they can get, Mannion said.
    "You obviously always want to strive for it," Mannion said. "I think in a perfect world you would be perfectly balanced but I think as the game goes on you might find some things where you might need to pass more, you might need to run more. It could be a kind of thing where we have a check called at the line and it just happens.
    "It's something that we strive for but as the game goes on we're not tied to it. We're going to do what we think the defense is giving us. And I think we did a good job of it."
    Mannion has been nearly flawless, completing 68 of 86 passes for 794 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception.
    "Sean's the man," Cummings said. "He's gotten so much better over the years with the decisions he makes, his poise in the pocket and just seeing the field. He's making tons of plays."
    And so are the receivers.
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