Mike Riley finally ended the suspense around the Oregon State quarterback derby Monday, naming junior Sean Mannion to open Saturday against Eastern Washington. He beat out Cody Vaz, the senior who filled in capably a year ago.
“We thought about it for a long time and had a hard time making the decision,” Riley told reporters.”It’s great to have both these guys. In any other era, they both would be starters, from what we’ve ever had in the program.”
A year ago, recall, Mannion was the quarterback as the Beavers got out of the gate well with surprise victories against Wisconsin and UCLA. Then he hurt a knee against Washington State, underwent arthroscopic surgery, and Vaz came on to lead the Beavers to a big win at Brigham Young.
Mannion returned, unimpressively, against Washington, and his rustiness seemed to play a part in the Huskies’ upset victory of the seventh-ranked Beavers, who entered 6-0. Vaz came on in relief in that game, was named starter for a close loss at Stanford, then suffered his own injury (a sprained ankle) and missed time. Riley went with Vaz in another close defeat in the Alamo Bowl against Texas.
The two dueled through the spring and fall. Mannion was considered the more likely to win the job, partly because he was a team captain, partly because his upside is greater.
Mannion will need to cut down his interceptions. He has thrown 31 in his two seasons, against 31 touchdown passes.
In another Pac-12 quarterback race, Colorado named Connor Wood, former Texas transfer, to start against Colorado State.