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Beavers look to avoid another opening misstep

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm •  Published: August 29, 2014

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — There's no way Oregon State is going to overlook season-opening opponent Portland State. The Beavers have been caught in that trap before, with losses to Eastern Washington last season and Sacramento State to kick off 2011.

Senior Obum Gwacham, who is making the switch from wide receiver to defensive end this season, said "not sleeping on any opponent" no matter what their level will be key to Oregon State's success this season.

"Every team we play this year is a quality team. Portland State — we've been talking about them since this summer — that's a great team," he said. "If we don't study them, if we don't watch them, if we don't practice hard, we're not going to be able to beat them."

Oregon State finished 7-6 last season. Following a stunning 49-46 loss to lower-division Eastern Washington in the opener, the Beavers reeled off six straight wins to become bowl-eligible. But they stumbled down the stretch with a five-game losing streak before a victory over Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl capped the season.

In 2011, the Beavers dropped their opener to the Big Sky's Hornets 29-28 in overtime and finished the season 3-9.

Portland State, which went 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big Sky last season, will play two Pac-12 foes this season: the Vikings visit Washington State in Pullman on Sept. 13.

Portland State coach Nigel Burton sees a challenge in facing Oregon State senior quarterback Sean Mannion, who set school records with 4,662 yards passing and 37 touchdown passes.

"If you're a competitor you look forward to show how good you are versus the best opponents out there," Burton said. "If there's a better quarterback in the country in terms of being an NFL prospect, accuracy, experience level and all the intangibles than Sean Mannion, then I'd like to see him."

Here are a few more things to look for when Portland State visits Corvallis on Saturday:

DUELING BACKUPS: Alabama transfer Luke Del Rio and sophomore Brent VanderVeen continue to compete for the job as Mannion's backup, Beavers coach Mike Riley said. "We haven't designated one as the backup, but we feel really good about the progress they've made during camp," the coach said. "It's actually a pretty close competition. It goes back and forth each day."

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