Mannion looks sharp, and should get help
Hamlett, Cummings expected back as targets for Oregon State QB in Hawaii Bowl
CORVALLIS -- Sean Mannion looked sharp throwing the ball Monday as Oregon State went through its third of nine practice sessions prior to the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl against Boise State.
The junior quarterback, who struggled through much of the Beavers' current five-game losing streak, seemed to get his mojo back with a strong performance in the 36-35 loss to Oregon Nov. 29 at Autzen Stadium.
It appears Mannion will regain the services of tight end Connor Hamlett and wideout Kevin Cummings for the Hawaii Bowl.
Hamlett, who has caught 36 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns this season, has undergone surgery on both knees, the latter for a meniscus tear suffered on the first offensive series against Oregon. Hamlett returned to practice Saturday and Sunday, sat out Monday and was expected to be back Tuesday.
"His knee got a little swollen," OSU coach Mike Riley said Monday. "It's tight, not sore. I think he'll be ready to play."
Cummings, who has 23 receptions for 254 yards and two TDs, missed the final four games after undergoing wrist surgery. He got the clearance Monday to begin practice on Tuesday wearing a soft protector on the wrist.
"We'll see how it feels, but it's doing good," Cummings said. "I hope I'll be available" for the Hawaii Bowl.
The Beavers seem rejuvenated and eager to end the losing streak and finish the season with a winning record.
"I'm excited about this opportunity to end our season on a win," receiver Brandin Cooks said. "It's really important. Last year, we understood after the loss to Texas (in the Alamo Bowl), and you have to wait a long time to redeem yourself. We don't want that feeling again."
"We needed to end this season with a win," defensive end Scott Crichton said. "We have to win to break that losing streak, and we want to win for our seniors. We want them to go out winners.
"We're anxious and excited, especially getting to play in Hawaii -- you can't really ask for more."
Oregon State's run game, dormant all season, came alive with a season-high 231 yards rushing in the Oregon game.
"It was a rivalry game," running back Storm Woods said. "We got a surge. Our offensive line had (its) best game against the Ducks, and that caused us to have our best game.
"I believe we can run against anybody, and I definitely believe we can run against (the Broncos). But they have a strong front seven. We're going to have to bring our 'A' game."
Woods said there is a resolve among the Oregon State players.
"We weren't sure if we were going to get another chance to play a game," he said. "Now we do. You don't want to end your season with a loss. We'll go out to Hawaii and do our best to end it with a win."
Junior outside linebacker D.J. Alexander had neck surgery last week and will not play in the Hawaii Bowl. "He has had repeated 'stingers' all year long," Riley said. "We decided to let him get the surgery now so he has plenty of healing time. It's nothing to mess around with." Will Alexander be back for spring ball? "Maybe," Riley said. "It gives him a month's more time for recovery." Redshirt freshman Caleb Saulo will start in Alexander's place.
The Beavers hope to re-engage sophomore Richard Mullaney, who is second on the team with 49 receptions but has only six in the last three games. Mullaney, who has been slowed by a case of turf toe, has split time in recent games with true freshman Victor Bolden at split end. Mullaney also had difficulty getting off the line of scrimmage against good defenders over the final stretch of the regular season.
Mannion, who ranks second nationally in passing yardage (4,403) behind Fresno State's David Carr (4,866), needs 56 to break the Pac-12 single-season record held by Washington's Cody Pickett (4,458, 2002).
Mannion has 10,177 career passing yards, ranking second on the OSU list behind Derek Anderson (11,249). Mannion also trails Anderson in career TD passes (79-67). The OSU junior has thrown for 36 TDs this season, tied for third nationally.
On the Pac-12 defensive list, Crichton is tied for third in tackles for loss with 16. OSU's Steven Nelson and Rashaad Reynolds and Arizona State's Robert Nelson are tied for the Pac-12 lead with six interceptions. OSU's Nelson is tied for third in passes defended with 13.
OSU's Trevor Romaine (255) needs six points to move ahead of Justin Kahut and into fifth place on the Beavers' career scoring list. Romaine (44) needs four field goals to pass Kahut and moved into second on the school career list.
OSU offensive tackle Michael Philipp will move into third place on the school career starts list with 48, trailing only Roy Schuening (50) and Richard Seigler (49).