SAN ANTONIO — Quarterback decisions have been second-guessed since midseason.
That’s not going to change after the Alamo Bowl.
The Oregon State football team’s loss to Texas, 31-27, on Saturday in the Alamodome can be attributed to many things.
How Cody Vaz played under center sticks out most.
Vaz threw two interceptions and fumbled once. Two of his turnovers came early. The first one was on a screen play that went straight into a defender’s hands.
Texas was able to stay in the game when the Beavers could have put the game out of reach with scores or at least rattled the Longhorns with long drives.
Vaz was blunt after the game when he assessed his play when he said it was, “not very good. ... I don’t feel good about how I played tonight.”
He was mad about plays he didn’t make, bad reads, holding on to the ball too long and more.
Coach Mike Riley felt Vaz was too hard on himself since there was such a heavy pass rush on him with 10 sacks and plenty of hurries.
The thing was, Vaz shouldn’t have been left out there that long. Riley has been saying he has two starters who can win games, but he didn’t use both of them to the fullest.
Sean Mannion went into the game in the second quarter when Vaz aggravated his left ankle that was first hurt Nov. 10 at Stanford and cost him two games.
Mannion just handed the ball off five times and the Beavers scored on a 47-yard drive when Terron Ward reached the end zone on a 9-yard draw.
Vaz came back in the game on the next possession after a quick tape job and was not the same. He said the injury wasn’t an excuse, but it was a cause of some of his issues.
Riley should have went with Mannion after the injury, or at least in the second half. Mannion is still the most experienced quarterback on the roster having started nearly all of last season and eight games this year.
Mannion has a knack of feeling the pass rush and avoiding it, he’s taller to see over the offensive line and bigger to take a hit.
Vaz was too slow in the pocket — because of the sore ankle — and not getting the job done. If a running back fumbled three times he would be replaced.
Mannion was relieved against Washington after four picks and Vaz sparked the offense for a near-comeback.
Riley felt a change was needed then and should have gone to Vaz sooner. This was the same situation.
“Sometimes when there’s a feeding frenzy it’s not a great deal for anybody quarterbacking at that time,” Riley said. “When we had to drop back and throw, it was pretty hard tonight.”
Riley doesn’t like to throw a backup quarterback into the fray during the heat of the second half when the game is on the line.
Mannion, however, is not any ordinary backup because of his experience. And he already entered the game.
Riley said he’ll regret many of the plays he called in the game. This decision will be one of them.
As we go into the offseason the question lingers on, who is OSU’s starting quarterback?
Mannion was voted a captain as a sophomore due to his work ethic and leadership. Can he come back and regain his position?
Vaz gained favor with the coaches and teammates for his persistence and ability when Mannion was hurt.
With both of them healthy, Riley needs to give one or the other the job.
Vaz feels he thrives in the competition between himself and Mannion. Mannion, however, has been at his best when the unquestioned starter.
Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said this game is an audition for Vaz in the future. After what transpired in the game, OSU goes into spring practice with uncertainty at a crucial position.
And that’s never a good thing.
Cliff Kirkpatrick covers the Oregon State football team for the Corvallis Gazette-Times. He can be reached at email@example.com