The Oregon State Beavers will be starting sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion over senior Cody Vaz against the California Golden Bears on Saturday, according to a tweet from Joe Disalvo. Mannion was pulled as the starter while in the midst of a second straight poor game after throwing three picks against the Washington Huskies. Meanwhile, Vaz bounced back after completing under 45% of his passes against the Arizona State Sun Devils with a solid game against Stanford.
It isn’t surprising to hear that Mannion is starting, because he is the more talented quarterback despite having worse numbers than Vaz (that’s due to seven combined picks against Washington State and Washington). More importantly, it will be a key confidence booster for the sophomore leading up to the big Civil War game against the Oregon Ducks- maybe the most important Pac-12 game this year.
The California Golden Bears pass defense is a mess, and the team is severely depleted due to injuries. Marcus Mariota tore up Cal’s pass D last week, and Mannion should be able to do the same. Starting Mannion was likely an easy decision for Mike Riley, even though Vaz is a solid starting quarterback in his own right. The Beavers just need to help Mannion develop some good momentum and consistency heading into the game against the Ducks, and the best way to do it is to allow him to have a big game against Cal.
Oregon State’s defense will be facing a Cal offense that is not expected to have starting quarterback Zach Maynard and top wideout Keenan Allen. Without Allen and Maynard, Cal’s pass offense is almost non-existent. Oregon State should have an extremely easy time shutting down the passing game, which will no doubt alleviate even more pressure off of Mannion’s shoulders. The only way that Cal can gain some consistent yardage on the Beavers will be on the ground, as Isi Sofele is coming off his best game this year against the Oregon Ducks.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.