- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Sean Mannion knows what he has to work on. That's a good start.
In a video interview done through Oregon State, the quarterback laid out some of his plans for the Beavers' upcoming spring practices and the 2012 season. At the top of his list are improving accuracy and reducing turnovers.
"I feel like I can improve in every area from last year," Mannion said. "You are always trying to get better in every way you can. I'd say, specifically, I want to become more accurate, as any quarterback would want to. That's something I've really been working on this off season."
Actually, it wasn't Mannion's accuracy that was too much of a problem last year. As the lone (consistent) freshman starter in the conference, Mannion completed 64.5 percent of his throws -- better than Darron Thomas, Brock Osweiler, Marshall Lobbestael, Kevin Prince and Zach Maynard.
The turnovers, however were an issue. Only one quarterback in the country threw more picks than Mannion and he was one of a handful of regular starters to have more interceptions than touchdowns: 18 picks to 16 scores.
"Along with accuracy, I'd say eliminating turnovers is a big area I can improve," he said. "A lot of that comes with becoming more accurate, they kind of come hand in hand. With a year under my belt and the spring practice coming up I can really work on my decision-making."
And therein lies the key -- decision-making. In a Q&A with Mike Riley last month , the OSU coach said that making the proper decisions should help reduce those turnovers.
"We want to be able to throw the ball down the field and he has the accuracy and the arm to do that," Riley said. "We want to help him make better decisions about taking that shot down the field or dumping the ball to the tailback. When we're going good, our tailbacks or fullbacks or tight ends should be catching a lot of balls."
At 6-5, 218-pounds, he's the prototypical quarterback for Riley's system. And despite the growing pains, he was named to the Football Writers Association Freshman All-America team for his efforts. He appeared in all 12 games -- starting 10. His 3,328 yards ranks fourth all-time for single-season passing in OSU history.
The Beavers don't start spring practice until next month. But Mannion has identified where he needs to improve, which is an important first step for any young quarterback.
"I think a lot of it is just keeping your eyes down field and continuing to look for receivers getting open and checking the ball down," Mannion said. "If you're eyes are down field and you can kind of feel the rush as opposed to looking at it, it really helps.
"... The biggest difference you'll see in me next year is that hopefully I'll be a year wiser and the game will really slow down for me and I'll look to be more accurate and we'll be much improved as a team."