When Gary Andersen put together his staff at Oregon State, he looked for coaches who had been with him at previous stops, both recently and not so recently. He found it comforting to surround himself in Corvallis with people he trusted, people who knew his system.
So it wasn’t a big surprise when it was announced that Darell Garretson would be transferring from Utah State. Though Garretson never played for Andersen, he did play for then-Utah State offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven, who’s now the Beavers’ co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. So, Garretson was familiar with the system and the way in which things had been run with Andersen.
And then this spring, continuing with the trend, Andersen brought in former Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who played for Andersen and with Garreston at Utah State.
He’ll be a bigger part of the recruiting side for the Beavers, but there’s no denying that he’s also going to be a fantastic tool for Garretson, Andersen, and McGiven. He’ll be able to relate to the situation as both a player and a coach figure. This gives Keeton one of the most unique roles in the Pac-12, coaching with a former coach of his own while also working with a former teammate. And, according to Andersen, that role is already at play with the relationship between the two quarterbacks.
“You know, you sit back, you watch those two go on virtual media and the way we teach our kids and those quarterbacks, and it's fun to listen to them,” Andersen said. “It was fun for me, I don't know what they're saying, their lingo and the quarterback stuff they talk about, but there's a special relationship between those two.”
Bringing in extra help for the quarterbacks will only be a good thing for an Oregon State offense that struggled to move the ball through the air last season. The Beavers finished 12th in the conference in passing offense, passing efficiency, and passing touchdowns. However, during Oregon State’s final spring scrimmage, Garretson showed that he’s ready to take a step forward with this offense.
Though Garretson and Keeton are technically at different stages in the rebuilding process -- Keeton was the second Andersen QB at Utah State, while Garretson is really the first at Oregon State -- having Keeton as a sounding board for both on- and off-field issues will be a help for Garreston.
And, especially for what Andersen hopes to accomplish in Corvallis, it helps to have a player in this city who has gone through that process with Andersen once before.
“I think if you look at any program that flipped, drastically flipped the way we were able to get it done and the kids were able to get it done at Utah State, a big part of it, the cornerstone of it is the quarterback, and Chuckie was a huge part of that,” Andersen said.
The Beavers have shown a commitment to fixing the issues that were broken with the Oregon State football program, from facilities to player issues. Quarterback play proved to be one of the weakest parts of the team last season and in the course of an offseason, the Beavers have moved into a solid positioning for that unit moving into the fall.
“Our expectation is that he's a very good quarterback in the Pac-12,” Andersen said of Garretson. “I believe you need two of them.”
And right now he does. Even though only one is eligible to play, the benefit of having the second on staff will only help the Beavers take those necessary steps forward.