The Oregon State quarterback competition between 2012 starters Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion is no closer to a clear answer following the Beavers’ spring-concluding scrimmage on Friday.
On the contrary — Oregon State head coach Mike Riley played the 84-snap Showcase as close to the chest as imaginable. Mannion and Vaz only appeared in one drive each. Freshman reserve Brent VanderVeen threw the majority of passes on Friday night, and the Beavers worked
Oregon State’s passing offense ranked in the top 20 nationally each of the last two seasons. In 2011, Mannion replaced injured Ryan Katz and completed 305 passes for 3328 and 16 touchdowns. Mannion was also turnover prone with 18 interceptions.
The turnover problems persisted for Mannion last season. He threw 13 interceptions, compared to 15 touchdowns in his 10 appearances.
Vaz was less prone to giveaways, throwing three interceptions, but completed a much lower percentage of his attempts. Vaz’s completion rate was below 59; Mannion’s hovered around 65.
The development of a more effective running game will go a long way in determining the Beavers’ quarterback situation. Oregon State ranked No. 100 in the FBS running the ball last season, which was actually a vast improvement on the 2011 season when the Beavers were dead last in the Pac-12 and No. 118 nationally.
Further, Friday’s scrimmage coincided with the NFL draft selection of wide receiver Markus Wheaton. Wheaton was an invaluable cog in the Beaver passing attack each of the last three seasons, culminating in an 11-touchdown, 1244-yard performance in 2012.
For a program that had long employed a reliable rushing attack, Oregon State has struggled to regain its footing since the departure of Jacquizz Rodgers. Riley used Friday’s scrimmage to give reserve running back Chris Brown 21 carries, but he barely mustered two yards per game.
Terron Ward, like most of the Beaver first stringers, was limited but did manage a touchdown. Ward is a smaller back akin to Rodgers, but primarily operates in a change-of-pace role. Feature back Storm Woods missed Friday’s scrimmage due to concussion symptoms.
Oregon State rolled to a surprise 9-win campaign in something of a judgment season for Riley. With a solid returning corps of 15 starters, expectations are raised for the 2013 Beavers. The departure of Chip Kelly to the NFL and an NCAA penalty looming over the rival Oregon Ducks opens a door for Oregon State to contend for its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1965.
Solving the quarterback quandary is of paramount significance in preseason camp.