Mannion in as QB, OSU faces Cal
Published: Friday, November 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 16, 2012 02:11
For the fourth time this season, the Oregon State football team made a switch at starting quarterback.
Head coach Mike Riley announced after Wednesday’s practice that it will be sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion making the start for Saturday’s home game against Cal.
After going down with an ankle injury at the end of OSU’s (7-2, 5-2 Pac-12) 27-23 loss at Stanford on Saturday, junior Cody Vaz missed every day of practice this week.
Mannion hasn’t started since Oct. 27 in Seattle against Washington, but is eager to get back on the field as the starter.
“I’m just excited for the opportunity,” Mannion said. “It’s been good to be back and playing again, I’m just doing everything I can to help our team get a win.”
Players and coaches have been impressed with Mannion’s week of practice.
“Sean was lights out,” said sophomore wide receiver Brandin Cooks. “Sean’s been great at practice this week, he’s been throwing a lot of great balls and putting the ball on the money. We’re excited to see what he can do.”
Mannion has taken all of the snaps with first-team offense with Vaz sidelined this week.
“Just typical Sean,” Riley said. “Great preparation, a lot of good work [and] great practice I thought.”
Mannion’s poise has been obvious this week in practice now that he knows he’ll be the starter on Saturday against Cal (3-8, 2-6).
“A lot more pep in his step and a lot more confidence,” Cooks said. “It’s been a couple weeks since the injury, and I feel like he’s not worried about that anymore. His ball was on fire this week and it’s coming with heat.”
It’s unclear what Vaz’ status will be for Saturday’s game. Riley said he will be dressed in uniform, but isn’t sure whether he’ll be considered Mannion’s backup yet.
“[Vaz is] getting a lot better,” Riley said. “He couldn’t play today. But we’ve got quite a bit of time until Saturday night so we’ll see if he can maybe back up.”
If Vaz is unable to be the backup quarterback, those duties will be passed on to sophomore Richie Harrington, who has only taken one snap in his collegiate career. The snap occurred in the Oct. 13 game this season at Brigham Young, when Vaz lost his helmet and was forced to leave the field for one play.
“He’s an experienced vet,” Riley said with a laugh. “He’s ready to go, been under the lights.”
Mannion and the rest of the offense won’t have as easy a task against the Golden Bears.
“Cal has probably one of the best defensive back corps that we’ve seen this year,” Cooks said. “They’ve got great guys on that side of the ball. A lot of guys are going to go to the NFL.”
That talented defensive backs corps is led by cornerback Steve Williams. Williams is tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, leads with 10 pass breakups and is third in total tackles with 71.
“Their corners are real physical,” said senior wide receiver Markus Wheaton. “I think this is the best group of corners we’ve played against, that’ll be a challenge for us. They’re really physical on the outside.”
“They’ve got a lot of athletic guys at every position on the field,” Mannion added.
Cooks said Cal’s record doesn’t define them, and the Golden Bears are much stronger than the 3-8 win indicates.
But he doesn’t feel empathetic toward Cal, because they’re going through the same type of season the Beavers went through last year, when they finished 3-9.
“No empathy going on with that, it’s college football,” Cooks said. “But we’re not going to take them lightly, because they’re a great team.”
Warner Strausbaugh, sports editor