SEATTLE – When Mike Riley was forced to make the decision on whether to bring back Sean Mannion just a few weeks after knee surgery or stay with Cody Vaz, he referenced the call he made just a few months earlier.
Mannion won the job in fall camp, so it was a clear choice to go back to him now, especially with Oregon State on the verge of accomplishing a first in school history.
“I thought about it in terms of if we were starting over, these two guys were competing. Sean won the job initially,” Riley said. “Obviously, we feel great about our quarterback situation. It’s just a tough decision to make.”
With Mannion back in charge, the No. 7 Beavers (6-0, 4-0 Pac-12) come to Seattle tonight to face slumping Washington (3-4, 1-3). Oregon State will be seeking the first 7-0 start in school history.
Mannion has not played since Oct. 6 against Washington State. He played the entire game against the Cougars, but it was discovered in the days after that Mannion had a minor knee injury that would require surgery. Before the injury, Mannion was among the most impressive quarterbacks in the Pac-12, throwing for seven touchdowns in four games and was averaging more than 339 yards passing per game.
With Mannion sidelined, Vaz stepped in and led the Beavers to a 42-24 win at BYU, then last week Oregon State relied on its defense in a 21-7 win over Utah. The Beavers’ ability to reach 7-0 may hinge on how well they can control the line of scrimmage. Washington’s offensive line has been decimated by injuries and quarterback Keith Price continued to struggle last week at Arizona when he committed three turnovers, raising his total to 10 in the past three games.