The college football season opens next week and five Pac-12 teams have yet to formally name a starting quarterback.
Oregon State, Washington State, Colorado, Arizona and USC haven’t made their starters official. In some cases it may just be coaching strategy, but in others the competition is just too close to call.
The 25th-ranked Beavers fall into the latter category, with coach Mike Riley still trying to decide between Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion. It looked like a choice was coming last weekend, but then –nothing.
“I’m trying not to think about it,” Vaz said about the day-to-day uncertainty.
Mannion started Oregon State’s first four games last season but injured his left knee and required arthroscopic surgery. Vaz stepped in and won the next two games, giving the Beavers their best start since they also went 6-0 in 1907. Both were used the rest of the way as Oregon State finished a better-than-expected 9-4 and went to the Alamo Bowl.
Riley said he’ll probably use both in the opener against Eastern Washington on Aug. 31.
“I know from a personal standpoint, everybody wants to be named ‘The Guy,’ right?” Riley told reporters this week. “And some would probably profess that it would make it better (to know the starter), that it would help them relax and play better. But this is not a game about relaxing, it’s a game about responding to pressure and playing under pressure.”
At No. 24 USC, coach Lane Kiffin still hasn’t decided between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, who are trying to succeed Matt Barkley.
While Wittek started the Trojans’ final two games last season, losing to Notre Dame and to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, Kessler has seemed to be a bit sharper than Wittek in spring ball and summer workouts.
The Trojans open the season on Thursday night at Hawaii.
Coach Rich Rodriguez said he may be forced to play two or three players at quarterback in the early games this season.
The Wildcats’ apparent front-runner is senior B.J. Denker, who saw some game action – including one start –as backup to Matt Scott last season. But transfers Jesse Scroggins and Nick Isham are also in the mix along with freshman Anu Solomon.
The Wildcats host the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Friday night in Tucson.
New coach Mike MacIntyre is also trying to choose between four candidates. While it appears that junior Connor Wood –who entered preseason camp atop the depth chart –is the front-runner, junior-college transfer Jordan Gehrke, sophomore Stevie Joe Dorman and incoming recruit Sefo Liufau are also being considered.
The Buffaloes open with Colorado State on Sept. 1.
It appears that coach Mike Leach is just going to make season-opening opponent Auburn wait awhile longer to know for sure.
But junior Connor Halliday is pretty much a lock.
Seven Pac-12 quarterbacks’ jobs are solidified: Cal’s Jared Goff, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Stanford’s Kevin Hogan, Washington’s Keith Price, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Utah’s Travis Wilson and Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly.
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