Sooner or later, Mike Riley is going to make his decision.
Riley has not announced who he’s going with as the starting quarterback for the Oregon State football team this season.
It’s not an easy choice, picking between Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz.
“I think they’re both capable guys,” cornerback Rashaad Reynolds said. “They’re both winners and that was evident from last year.”
Mannion started most of 2011 and began the 2012 season as the starter.
He threw for 2,446 yards and 15 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He struggled with an injured left knee and wound up starting eight games.
In stepped Vaz, who started five times and finished with 1,480 yards with 11 scores and three picks.
“They’re two very good players that we can win with and they’re both great kids,” offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said. “They’ve really grown up through the years and it’s been really fun to see them mature and get better.”
How do they compare?
Mannion is the bigger of the two, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 207 pounds.
“Sean’s a big, strong kid that can throw it a mile,” Langsdorf said. “He’s trying to work on playing a little faster, releasing the ball quicker.
“He’s got a great handle on what we do and he’s really worked hard on studying and being ultra comfortable with what we’re doing. Get us in the right play, check us out of bad plays.”
Langsdorf said Vaz — 6-1, 199 — has a quick release and plays at a good pace.
“He gets back, gets the ball out of his hands quick,” Langsdorf said. “He’s got a nice, strong arm. He’s making a lot of good decisions.”
Reynolds has gone up against both quarterbacks during practice.
He said Mannion has the stronger arm between the two.
“He might take a little more risks, which is not bad,” Reynolds said. “Cody, he probably has a little more accuracy.”
Neither player is going to be a major threat to tuck and run.
They wouldn’t fit in well in a zone read running game.
They do bring good pocket presence. Mannion and Vaz both have the ability to slide away from the rush and move around to get a throw off.
“Cody’s pretty elusive. He can make something out of it if they’ve got a blitz coming, he’ll pick it up,” H-back Connor Hamlett said. “Sean’s got height, so he can see over linemen. So they both bring different things.”
Both Hamlett and wide receiver Brandin Cooks said they couldn’t really tell the difference between how the two QBs throw.
Cooks said there was no noticeable change in velocity.
“They’re coming and as long as the ball gets there, as a receiver we don’t care,” Cooks said. “So it doesn’t matter how it gets there as long as it gets to our hands. It’s on us to catch it.”
Teammates praised both quarterbacks’ leadership skills.
Both have stepped up when needed.
“They’re both great leaders and that was proven through this offseason when we were throwing routes after workouts,” Hamlett said.
“Sean’s a quiet, humble guy. He’s a leader by working hard himself. Cody talks a little more, but he’s still quiet to himself. They just like to get down to business and do their job, which is what I like about them.”
No matter who Riley chooses, it’s an advantage for OSU to have two starting-level quarterbacks on the team.
If the starter can’t play for whatever reason, the Beavers can call on the other starter.
“They’re great to coach, they’re great teammates. You couldn’t ask for a better situation, in my opinion, to have two guys who can play like that because we’re going to need them both,” Langsdorf said. “At some point, something’s going to happen and you’re going to have to have the other guy play and I think having that luxury in having two is great for our team.
“I think when you look at the last few years, whenever teams were playing with backup quarterbacks, it was hard. I think we showed last year when we played with a different guy, we didn’t miss a beat. So I feel great about that situation and these kids are both great to have on our team and they’re good players.”