Throughout the offseason and Fall camp, Oregon State hasn't named a starting quarterback, for a team most believe can win anywhere from 7-10 games. For some, this could be a real problem, but for Mike Riley and Co., it's business as usual and just a time for Riley to really get a firm grasp on who should lead this team in one of the most anticipated seasons since 2009.
The last time we saw both on the field in a game, Mannion was standing on the sidelines, looking like a confused kid who didn't understand why his dad didn't like him and Vaz was just hoping to have two seconds after the snap to look down the field. Instead Riley kept Mannion on the bench and Vaz repeatedly saw Texas DE Alex Okafor's facemask interlocking with his. The season didn't end on the highest note, but what most fans walked away saying was 'Mannion should be the guy.'
Not so fast.
If basing the Alamo bowl performance was the sole reason to pick a starter, Riley missed that memo. Despite throwing two interceptions and throwing zero touchdowns, Vaz still had a rating of 97.48. Most college football fans nowadays are smart. They really know and understand the nuances of the game. Yet, all I heard from the Alamo was Vaz playing like crap. Not, 'man the offensive line was horrid.' Storm Woods, by the way, rushed for 118 yards, but 98 of those came in the first half. The second half pressure and rush of Texas defenders swarmed and stopped everyone.
However, after 8 1/2 months and with a decision most likely coming Friday on who should be under center, people continue to tell me, the decision is simple, it should be Mannion because he has 'a higher ceiling.' But I have to ask, since I've heard that reason about thousand times, what the hell does a higher ceiling mean?
Most believe since Mannion's a junior, you give him the next two seasons and he'll grasp the offense so well, that he could become an OSU legend and lead this team. Most believe he's just a better player. But is that really true? Do we really know if Mannion is going to take the reigns and be this incredible player? No. Do we know if Cody Vaz can continue his consistency he had most of last season? No. Yet, people continue to believe their opinion on Mannion is the only one that makes sense. And that made me wonder why.
Last year, before Mannion suffered a partially torn knee ligament injury, he was playing well. He led OSU to an upset win over Wisconsin, a big win at the Rose Bowl versus UCLA, and a late-game drive to beat the Wildcats in Tucson. The kid was aguably the best quarterback in the conference in that stretch. No argument from me there. But upon examination of his game and stats, you have to ask yourself, was he really THAT great? He threw seven touchdowns and four interceptions up until the end of the Washington State game. Not great, not bad. He beat a Wisconsin team (10-7) that proved to be overrated and nowhere near OSU's level, in my opinion. The UCLA game was impressive, and the best game of his career, at least that I've seen.
After that? Not so great. I know most give him a pass for the Washington game because he was coming back from injury. But why? If you're really ready to play, you can't play like you're unsure of your body. Mannion was. He threw four interceptions and cost OSU their perfect season. Vaz, when called upon in that very game, came in and instantly took the Beavers down the field and scored a touchdown, showing most that with the right QB the Beavers were the better team.
I'm not writing this to advocate for Vaz. I do like Vaz as the QB for this team a little more, but I understand why Riley most likely will go with Mannion. I'm just sick of hearing Mannion has the 'higher ceiling.'
After Mannion returned from his injury he threw nine interceptions and eight touchdowns - counting the Nicholls State game - in his last four games. In his OSU career, he's thrown 31 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. Last season, Vaz threw eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He certainly isn't chopped liver, nor should he be viewed as such.
My gut tells me Riley goes with the junior. Giving Oregon State a proven back-up in Vaz. And I'm fine with that. I can see Sean Mannion coming out and playing more like he did before the knee injury than after, I just can't continue to hear the term 'higher ceiling' when the two are compared.
Beavers fans shouldn't be hoping for the guy who has the higher ceiling anyway. They should be hoping for the guy that can break through it, and take them to new heights.
I understand your point, but I must say Vaz as a game manager should also be with a question mark. I watched the OSU-ASU tilt the other night on the Pac-12 network and Vaz was pretty awful in that game. Yes we won big, but Vaz was not a significant part of that other than handing the ball off. He overthrew receivers, underthrew receivers, threw to guys that were not open and did not throw to guys that did appear open. His game against Utah was also underwhelming and he did not go out and win the Stanford game when the chance was there. I see Mannion as someone who will win games for the Beavs. I honestly do not see Vaz in the same light. Mannion won UCLA AND Arizona, both on the road. He played poorly against the Wash schools, agreed - but his games where he played well give you hope that he can find that rhythm when given the snaps. Vaz had a rhythm as well, it just did not go out and win games for us (ok, BYU was his doing, but that was it and it was when no one had film on him)>
Thanks for the comment. We'll see if Riley goes with Sean.