Signing day Q&A with co-offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven

Max Braly, Sports Contributor

Oregon State concluded the 2016 recruiting class on Monday. New co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kevin McGiven caught up with the Daily Barometer’s  Max Braly to discuss the offensive recruits and the quarterback competition coming up. 

Max Braly: How do you feel about the offensive side and the players you were able to bring in?

Kevin McGiven: Good, there are guys there that I think are going to have an opportunity to compete right away. There are guys that are going to fill some needed depth for us. 

A couple of guys are going to be contributing in spring ball, so that’s always good to get some practice time under their belt and get some development going into fall camp, as opposed to going through that process during the summer. They are going to have spring ball and a couple months of offseason work to get themselves ready physically and dive into the play book and things like that. 

Those guys getting a head start is going to be critical as far as guys that we feel can compete right away. All the guys we’ve added in that class, there’s a lot of athleticism there at the receiver position with Tyson. 

We have Kyle White coming in at the running back Tyson Penn at wide receiver Trevon Bradford at wide receiver and a playmaker. We’ve got Timmy Hernandez already here working out with us who’s doing a good job—that’s a very reliable kid at the receiver position, brings the toughness to that group. 

Artavis Pierce coming from Florida, is a big back that can run that has a world of potential.

We’ve got increased in size up front that we are excited about size and athleticism up front. I think overall we definitely bettered our team.

MB: You recruited Darell Garretson out of Chandler High School to Utah State University. Now he is playing for you here at Oregon State. What is it about Darell that made you want him in your program?

KM: I had seen him when I was coordinator at Montana State the first time I saw him on film. Then I got hired on at Utah State and there was a need at the the quarterback position based on some other guys dropping off going other places. 

So there was a need there and we were still looking for a guy, and I had shown him to Coach Wells (head coach of Utah State) so we ended up pursuing him. Through that process I got to know the coaching staff a little better down there (at Chandler High School) got to familiarize myself with the program. Obviously he came into Utah State and was thrown into a starting role in his true freshman year. 

He finished that season really well and won a lot of games as a true freshman. And again as a sophomore he came in and started three or four games and had some big wins. 

I came here, and things didn’t end up working out the way he wanted them to so he contacted us after he was able to transfer. He ended up coming over here as a walkon and wanted to give it an opportunity. I knew what he was about, so obviously I welcomed the chance and opportunity to continue to coach him after he made that decision. 

So going into spring ball, that’ll be fun to watch him get back after it. After sitting out a year, seeing how rusty he is and things like that—but seeing him throw the ball around and lead the offense—I’m excited to continue that development as far as he goes.

MB: You brought in Mason Moran who is already here, what does he bring to the table?

KM: Obviously Mason was at the same program (as Darell Garretson) at Chandler High School. Me knowing that coaching staff, and part of it is trusting their evaluation of their players and what those coaches tell you, because with Mason he was a safety his junior year and was a backup quarterback. He happened to have a guy in front of him who was a PAC-12 quarterback who ended up at Arizona State. He didn’t really get his opportunity until he was a senior. 

The whole time, even as an underclassman, the coaches there were telling me that ‘we have a really good quarterback as a backup right now’ but we felt like was every bit as good as the starter, for what they need for their team at the time they felt they were better served having him at safety. 

When you are playing the safety position, obviously he’s going to have some athleticism, he’s going to run, and have some toughness. It gives you a different perspective being on the defensive side of the ball—things that can help you as a quarterback—and when he had his opportunity as a quarterback he made the most of it. 

He’s a first team all-state quarterback and won the Danny White Award for best quarterback in the state in Arizona. Obviously the things the coaches (at Chandler high) were telling me had a lot of truth to what he was capable of as a quarterback. I was able to see that last spring, going out through the evaluation process, it was really just a matter of seeing him in person and being able to see him throw, lead, interact with his teammates, make sure he had the intangibles that we needed at the position and that he was passionate about the game. 

All the things we look for in a quarterback, we felt like he represented when we offered him last spring. He was able to come up on an unofficial visit over the summer and was committed to us fairly early in the process. He’s finishing up some course work right now but he’ll be with us at the end of the quarter. He will be with us for spring ball. 

But (Chandler High School) is a very good program, they are coached very very well, so I know what I’m getting in that regard, going through that experience with Darell. I definitely trust those guys and the system they’re in has a lot of parallels to the system that we run as far as what they ask the quarterback to do. 

Because of some of the decisions he is making and some of the reads he was having to make and the way they are coaching them I knew what getting in that regard. I’m looking forward to having Mason here and continuing the work that they’ve put in down there. 

MB: Is Chandler High School a school that you always try to see what kind of talent they have? 

KM: Definitely. Going through recruiting, you hope to be able to develop relationships with staffs and coaches when you are out on the road at these high schools—you want them to be able to trust you and to be able to say ‘ok I know this coach and I know what they represent’ so they can kind of help you in a lot of regards. 

With some of these guys, sometimes the coach is like a father figure for some of them, you know they may come from a single parent homes or whatever it may be. Those head coaches are very influential. You build these relationships, so there are a couple coaches on that staff that I’ve built a good relationship with in the recruiting process and being down there. 

Chandler right now happens to be a place in Arizona where there are a lot of good athletes migrating to that program. 

The year before last (Chandler) won the state championship and got close again this year. There is a lot of talent in that program right now, they had a bunch of kids sign today, they had four different PAC-12 guys on the same team and an offensive lineman go to Memphis. They’ve got a couple good prospects for next year that we are going to be checking out as well. It’s a very good program and kind of a hot bed right now for talent in the Phoenix area. 

MB: When you are evaluating high school quarterbacks what are some of the things you are looking for?

KM: You start with the intangibles. There is a dedication and a work ethic involved with being a division one quarterback being a quarterback in the PAC-12. 

When I go down and evaluate I’m looking for what type of leadership attributes they have how they interact with their teammates. I’m looking for their work ethic. 

Are they making the most of the their practice opportunities when you see them in that role or when you see them in a game? Are they committed and dedicated to improving their craft? Are they passionate about the game of football? That’s got to be something, especially at the quarterback position, where the time commitment to studying the film and studying themselves and the opponents. 

It’s a big time commitment. If you aren’t passionate about football and you don’t love watching the game and playing the game then you usually won’t get the most out of these guys that are developing. So I hope for all those intangibles first and foremost and then obviously they have to have the physical attributes to be able to play. 

The one thing we always say when going out and recruiting quarterbacks, we like to have quarterbacks where you have to defend them as a runner. That can be a key component to allow us to do all the things want to, but first and foremost they have to be able to throw the football. 

We are of the belief in our system that you can always manufacture the run game without the quarterback being involved, but you can’t manufacture a pass game without someone back there pulling the trigger. 

The things that I saw in Mason that I look for in a quarterback in terms of a pass game, usually you start from the ground up. You look at their feet. Are they throwing with a good base? Do they have good footwork? The footwork is usually the first component that dictates the accuracy.

If they’ve got tight throwing mechanics, if they have the arm strength to make the the throws you are going to be asking them to make. Is their release efficient and getting from point A to point B on a consistent basis? 

All of a sudden those windows are a little tighter or the defenders are breaking on the ball a little bit faster. If they don’t have the arm strength required, they don’t have release mechanics required or if they lack accuracy in those areas, then they obviously can have issues. 

You are always going to look at the system they are playing in and what they are asking them to do as far as the reads, because the quarterback’s eyes and his decision making as far as the reads go, that’s huge for the pass game. How complex are the reads that he’s making, is he making the right reads on a consistent basis? You are always  going to look at those things as you study quarterback recruits. 

It’s got to go a little bit deeper than a highlight film on a quarterback, because you are going to watch him complete the football on a highlight film, but then you throw on a game and maybe he only completes 40 percent of his passes, but he happened to put all those completions on a highlight tape. You have to dig a little bit deeper with some positions than you do others. 

We are going to do a thorough evaluation on any position, but that’s one where it’s really critical to really find out what they are all about in a game situation and how they react to certain things. How they react to adversity is a big part of quarterback play. 

KM: That would be the intent. At this point, if Mason is not a starter, then I don’t foresee him being utilized as a special situation guy or whatever it may be. We kind of talk about those things as it gets closer—obviously I can’t make any guarantees. 

When you go through the course of the season there is a lot that can happen. But that would be the original intent—if he is not the number one guy, then let’s allow him to develop and preserve that eligibility that he has and hopefully not have to burn that year and allow him a chance to develop a bit more.

On Twitter @Max_Braly

Was this article helpful?