There's no doubt that Oregon State struggled to throw the ball consistently last season.
The Beavers were able to come out on top in four games when the run game was clicking, but there were few games when the pass came to the forefront.
OSU threw for 2,086 yards and 13 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. That ranked the Beavers 110th out of 128 teams in the NCAA in pass offense.
Jason Phillips was brought on board as the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach to point the team in the right direction.
"Everybody knows how we weren't very good last year in the passing game, so those guys are taking pride and ownership of that. First you have to take ownership in order to change it," Phillips said. "That's the thing they're making sure they're holding themselves accountable, to make sure those things don't happen this year."
Phillips played receiver for University of Houston during the run-and-shoot days and then had short stints with the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons before finishing his playing career with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.
He was a training camp intern with the Minnesota Vikings in 2001 and the Atlanta Falcons in 2002 and coached offense at Houston and wide receivers at Texas State in '02. He coached at Houston from 2003-11 except one season at Baylor in 2007. In 2010-11, Phillips was the Cougars' offense coordinator along with coaching the receivers.
Phillips moved on to SMU as a co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach from 2012-14 and then was a training camp intern for the Denver Broncos before coaching receivers at Kansas in 2015-16. He arrived at OSU in January.
OSU coach Gary Andersen and Phillips were on the same page from their first conversation.
"He expressed his ideas as to what he wanted to do based on my background and the coaches I've been associated with throughout my career," Phillips said. "The biggest thing was making sure that whatever philosophy he wanted and the philosophy that I've been a part of fit what we have here from a personnel standpoint and from an offensive standpoint and what our guys are capable of doing."
The Beavers are stocked with strong running backs and Andersen likes to run the ball, so there is not going to be a sudden transformation into an Air Raid offense.
Phillips just wants to simplify the passing game for the players.
"We're not an Air Raid team. We're a Beaver team that's going to do the things that we were doing successful last year," he said. "Hopefully we have improved the passing game enough to where it can catch up with our running game so that we can be a more explosive offense."
Phillips does want the Beavers to play with a quicker tempo in the passing game.
Executing throws with speed will give the Beavers the ability to hit the defense with positive plays.
"I think it's just trying to keep the tempo up and maybe not having a humongous playbook and having a whole bunch of things that we have to do. But having a set core of things that we do really well and that we can do fast and we'll give teams a lot of different looks," OSU quarterback Jake Luton said. "I think that's a big thing is just the speed and knowing exactly what we need to do.
"Anytime we can speed up the tempo and try to get the ball over the top, or if we're keeping it short and we try to get it into the hands of our guys. We've got playmakers across the board and anytime that I can dump the ball off and get it into the guys and let them make a play is huge for a quarterback."
Among the receivers Luton can throw to are Seth Collins, Jordan Villamin and Isaiah Hodgins.
Collins and Villamin bring experience and all three have good height, with Collins listed at 6-foot-3, Hodgins at 6-4 and Villamin at 6-5.
The play of Hodgins has allowed Collins to move inside to the slot.
"Isaiah has emerged and proven that he's capable of playing this year for us and basically with the numbers and the group that we have, he's solidified himself as one of the top three guys, so there had to be a move somewhere," Phillips said. "And Seth was one of the guys that I thought was a little more versatile than those two guys and he played a little bit inside last year and he's willing to do whatever is good for the team and we didn't have a problem moving him inside. It gives us some speed inside and some height inside with those two guys outside."
Hodgins, a true freshman who enrolled early and participated in spring practices, said he likes working for Phillips.
"He's just brought a lot of experience and a lot of great coaching," Hodgins said. "He coaches you up every day on stuff he's been through in the league and stuff that he wants us to do. So just getting tips from a guy with that much experience as him is great."