OSU football: Cody Vaz

Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz had plenty of reasons to smile in Saturday’s win over BYU, proving that he can be a quality starter. (/Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

Rick Bowmer

So the secret is out — Cody Vaz can play some football.

While all of his Oregon State teammates and coaches said he could lead the offense to victory last week, there was some doubt because he had never done it before.

Vaz proved last Saturday that he can be a starting quarterback in the Pac-12 Conference, leading the Beavers to a 42-24 nonconference victory over BYU in his first career start. He gets another opportunity on Saturday night in Reser Stadium against Utah in a conference game.

“I’m not going to be complacent and neither will our team,” Vaz said. “We just want to keep this thing rolling. It’s a new week and we have to focus on Utah.”

Vaz may have surprised BYU with his ability and knowledge. It’s not like the Cougars could prepare for him.

His last playing time came in small spurts during the 2010 season. But Vaz, who threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns, is a different player now — he’s smarter and more mature.

“I don’t know if Utah will have that problem,” Vaz said of not knowing him. “They have the film now so they won’t be surprised by anything. We just have to do the same thing offensively, and that’s execute. If we do that we can move the ball on any defense.”

The offense was the same as if starter Sean Mannion was available instead of rehabbing from minor knee surgery.

There were even some new wrinkles, such as going with five receivers on a play to take advantage of the BYU defense.

When devising the game plan for Utah, coach Mike Riley has no limitations because Vaz and Mannion are almost interchangeable.

And expect more Utah-specific plays because Vaz can pull them off.

“Preparation is the same as last week,” Vaz said. “I’m just going to prepare myself the best I can.”

And he has more confidence this week. Vaz admitted being anxious before the BYU game because he wanted to see how he would do. Now that the first start is over, that won’t hold him back anymore.

“I was sick of waiting for the game to get there,” Vaz said. “I’m glad it’s over and we are going to move on.”

The nerves were gone as soon as he completed a dump-off pass to running back Storm Woods for three yards on the first play.

“I’m not surprised he did what he did,” Mannion said. “He was here before I was. He showed me the ropes when I first got here. You know he’s always calm and collected on the sidelines. I get nervous before games but he always calmed me down.”

Quarterback coach Danny Langsdorf said Vaz had an excellent debut, and expects him to be better.

“He could be faster with his reads and throws and become even more accurate,” Langsdorf said. “Like anybody, there’s stuff to improve on. That’s how we approach it. He can play a better game.”

Vaz has been criticized about his 6-foot-1 frame with the belief that he’s too short to make the throws over big linemen.

BYU batted down three passes, two on consecutive plays, but it wasn’t an issue the rest of the game as Vaz found open receivers.

“It just happens and it’s going to happen,” Vaz said. “With them, they had guys not necessarily rush but they just jump up and bat the ball down. I’ll improve and look them off so they can’t get a jump on the ball.”

So the most popular guy on any football team — the backup quarterback — gets at least one more week in the spotlight as Mannion heals.

Keep this up and he could create another quarterback controversy in two or three weeks.

Vaz was flooded with honors following the win over BYU and he’s done more radio, TV and newspaper interviews than in his entire OSU career before last week.

“I’m going to avoid (the attention) and take it in later,” Vaz said. “We are just focused on Utah.”

Cliff Kirkpatrick covers Oregon State sports for the Gazette-Times. He can be reached at cliff.kirkpatrick@lee.net.


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