Beavers have a quandary at quarterback
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP)
It appears the Oregon State Beavers have a full-blown quarterback competition.
With freshman backup Sean Mannion taking the bulk of the first-team snaps in practice and coach Mike Riley announcing that both Mannion and junior incumbent Ryan Katz will play Saturday at No. 8 Wisconsin, the Beavers seem poised to employ dueling QBs for the foreseeable future.
''Right now Ryan is our starting quarterback, and just like you do with tight ends or receivers or running backs, sometimes there are different packages for different guys,'' Riley said during his Tuesday news conference. ''So we're putting some things together for both quarterbacks. We intend to play them both in the game.''
Katz started every game last year, throwing for 2,401 yards and completing 60 percent of his passes as the Beavers stumbled to a 5-7 season. He was pulled after the first half of Oregon State's season-opening loss to Sacramento State last week after going 11-of-22 for 87 yards and throwing an interception.
Katz seemed disappointed and confused at what is effectively a demotion. He said Tuesday that he was surprised to be benched during the game, pointing out that he had always practiced as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart.
''I went in as a starter and didn't go back in, so yeah, that's a little surprising,'' he said.
Katz said he would play whatever role he was assigned, but said: ''I know what I can do. I know I can still play.''
Riley said the quarterback competition had been going on the entire spring and fall camp, albeit under the radar. Katz suffered a broken wrist last season against Oregon, had surgery in January and missed spring drills. During that time and ever since, the 6-foot-5 Mannion had distinguished himself.
''We felt like Sean Mannion was stepping forward in fall camp and the week before the game, we had started talking about how he needs to play,'' Riley said. ''We had a plan to play Sean in the first game. All of our people knew about it.''
Riley said that from his point of view, the change to the dual QB system was a result of Mannion's development, not any faltering by Katz. He stressed that Katz will have plenty of opportunities to reassert himself and that the change is not ''a life sentence.''
For his part, the 19-year-old Mannion said all the right things, and seemed slightly embarrassed by the whole situation, saying he would do whatever Riley asked and complimenting Katz, whom he said ''has been a great resource ever since I got here.''
Mannion was 8-of-12 for 143 yards in replacing Katz in the second half of the Sac State game. Riley said those statistics don't tell the whole story because two of Mannion's incompletions were spikes to stop the clock and another was a dropped pass by tight end Connor Hamlett.
Riley has used two quarterbacks at times during his coaching career, including in the Canadian Football League, as offensive coordinator at USC and most recently in 2007, when both Lyle Moevao and Sean Canfield played for Oregon State.
''It's not ideal, but it's not impossible,'' Riley said. ''Right now I think it is the best thing for the Beavers.''