BF.C Fall Camp Preview: Quarterbacks

CORVALLIS - Oregon State does not have an official starter behind center. Will it be Sean Mannion or Cody Vaz? Or will Mike Riley just take over himself, throwing caution and age to the wind and lead the Beavs to an undefeated season? Okay, maybe not. But there's so much to talk about here. BF.C takes an in-depth look at the QB position…

Call the thought presumptuous, but I think I know what's going on in Riley's head right now.

If he had to choose between Mannion and Vaz – he would go with Derek Anderson.

THE ISSUE DOES extend beyond simple X's and O's, though.

It's a far too basic question to ask, "Who is better?" To which I answer – "Neither." Both have pros and cons, so let's start there.

Mannion, a junior, is a good athlete with a sharp football mind – when he is on point, it is a powerful display to behold, and the Beavs look good.

When he lags or gets nervous, or the defense gets used to his reads and his snap count, he falters.

Basically, if the defense does their job, Mannion doesn't do his. He threw a wealth of interceptions during spring ball and Vaz, a senior threw less than a handful.

Vaz is a capable and occasionally even clutch quarterback. He has great touch, and he puts the ball on the play side more than Mannion.

He also lacks the three things that really make a QB sing – arm strength, excellent vision and mobility to avoid the blitz. You don't need to be lighting quick, and lord knows Mannion isn't, but awareness goes a long way when it means you can move a step or two forward and avoid an oncoming DE as he swings around the edge.

My theory is that if Vaz rolled out of the pocket more often, his completion percentage would increase. Roll-out options would give him a better view of the field on certain calls. Vaz stands at 6-1 and a significant portion of his sacks last season came via delayed releases. In 2012, Vaz spent too much time in the pocket trying to eyeball the best look.

Yet this would require the Beavs to revamp their offensive playbook to a not insignificant degree, and that's probably not going to happen.

In addition, you can only inch a QB over to the outside so many times before a smart defensive coordinator catches on, adjusts his blitz packages and again funnels Vaz back into the pocket and the oncoming rush.

Now, Vaz's release time is pretty good, but as the bowl game last season showed, once he feels the heat, his mechanics take a dive.

No wonder Riley is waiting until sometime during the fall to call the QB battle quits and name a No.1 behind center.

Beyond the X's and O's
Mannion's confidence was shot at the end of last season. His body language for the final few days of Alamo Bowl preparation was downright miserable.

You could tell that he thought he worked his tail off in order to get a nod from Riley to play in that game, and Riley pushed him aside.

Yet now Mannion is in quite the advantageous situation – he is the one fighting to prove he is worth his salt, and Vaz is simply trying to prove that the Alamo Bowl was a fluke.

In a way, its Vaz's job to lose, Mannion's to gain.

By virtue of Riley benching Mannion, he may have done the one thing that will make the junior bust out of the gate in 2013 – he has put Mannion in a situation where he is considered somewhat of an underdog.

The Youth
Redshirt freshman Brent Vanderveen comes into the fall as the scout team QB and a highly unlikely candidate for playing time. Unless disaster strikes and both Mannion and Vaz are lost to injury, this is a learning, developmental year for Vanderveen.

Vanderveen stepped into the primary passer with the younger corps of players during the spring. The 6-4, 217 signal caller is expected to see his role as the No.3 signal caller continue through the fall and regular season.

Oregon State will also add rookie Kyle Kempt, who is now in Corvallis and will make his first appearance in black and orange on Aug. 5 when fall camp begins.

NOTABLE NOTE:
The Beavers first five games consist of Eastern Washington, Hawaii, San Diego State, Colorado, and Washington State – which is to say, they have a comparatively easy schedule when juxtaposed to the first five games of 2012 -- Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona, WSU and BYU. So the Beavs will have a few games to effectively work out the kinks of whomever they do name the starter before the going gets tougher.


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