oregon state blog

OSU football: Breaking down Beaver’s QB situation

Time to make a choice

We’re about half way through summer and the 2013 college football season feels just around the corner. After a fantastic 2012, the OSU Beavers are looking to once again come up big in the Pac-12.

With a stellar defense and elite passing attack, the Beavers surpassed all expectations last season. 2013’s roster could be even better than last year’s, but first some tough decisions have to be made.

One of those decisions is clearing up the quarterback situation. QB is a position of strength for the Beavs, but only if they don’t let things get muddled like in 2012.

Looking towards the upcoming season, we’re breaking down OSU’s quarterback situation from potential starters to backups.

Mannion or Vaz?

The big question heading into the season is who starts at quarterback—since Mike Riley had yet to make a decision post-spring practices.

On one hand there’s Sean Mannion, who was arguably the Pac-12’s best QB after Oregon State’s first four games. Then came the knee injury that knocked things upside down for the then-sophomore.

After returning to the field after just two weeks—a recovery time deemed not long enough by many—Mannion had his four interception game against Washington. His following starts were a mixed bag, with some good and some bad.

And surprisingly enough, despite a strong finish to the season and practices, Mannion was not elected to start in the Alamo Bowl.

That duty fell to Cody Vaz, Mannion’s backup for the majority of last year. After Mannion was knocked out, he was the one who stepped in and kept the Beaver’s rolling.

Vaz put up solid stats in his first three starts, but as he faced tougher opponents his flaws were exposed exposed. The now-senior’s patented cold streaks ultimately cost the Beaver’s big wins against Stanford and Texas.

Sean Mannion

If Mannion is healthy he could be OSU’s best hope (Photo: Greg Wahl-Stephens / AP)

Despite his solid season, Vaz chose to remain at OSU for 2013 instead of pursuing a transfer. That decision has given Riley a lot to think about.

All things considered my vote is for Mannion. He has better tools and is capable of having huge games—averaging 316 yards per start compared to Vaz’s 239.

There’s also some advantage to keeping Vaz as the backup. He proved last year that he’s capable of stepping in mid-season if need be, and Vaz did a lot better coming in cold than Mannion did.

The one thing Vaz has going for him is composure. When Mannion was bad last year he was really bad, where as Vaz consistently kept OSU in a position to win. The hope is that Mannion can mature to where that isn’t the case.

But as long as he’s healthy Mannion is hands down OSU’s best quarterback. Here’s hoping Riley agrees.

The backups

While the third and fourth stringers don’t get a lot of playing time, last year’s QB situation proves anything can happen. So it’s important to give a hard look at OSU’s backups.

Heading into 2013 the third-string option was to be sophomore Richie Harrington, but he has since transferred to Southern Utah.

That leaves redshirt freshman Brent VanderVeen as OSU’s sole backup—not including who isn’t picked to start between Mannion and Vaz.

VanderVeen is a three-star recruit from the 2011 class. He’s got good size, mobility and an accurate arm. He still has work to do with throwing the ball deep, but his arm is strong. If it comes down to him starting, he should pair well with OSU’s wide receivers.

While Riley would probably like a fourth quarterback, it looks like OSU will enter the year with just three QBs. Lucky for them having two proven starters still makes this a position of strength for the Beavs.


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