Oregon State spring game shows more consistency from quarterbacks

CORVALLIS, Ore. – If there’s been an overriding theme around the Pac-12 this spring, it’s that nobody is winning any jobs. On the flip side, nobody is losing them either – but that doesn’t mean there isn't any progress.

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That was one takeaway from Reser Stadium as Oregon State wrapped up spring practices under the lights on Friday night. Though it was mostly vanilla plays being run throughout a beautiful Pacific Northwest evening, the Beavers head into the offseason with a smile on their faces and plenty of good film to review.

“It was tough watching but at the same time, I felt great with what we did at the running back spot and as a team,” starting running back Storm Woods, who was watching from the sidelines while recovering from a concussion, said. “Offensively we moved the ball, defensively we made some key stops. I’m proud of this scrimmage.”

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For most fans getting their first glimpse at the ongoing quarterback battle in Corvallis, Cody Vaz got the nod on practice No. 15. The senior led his unit on a touchdown drive and threw a crisp ball to his receivers on the outside in front of a solid crowd of orange-clad fans.

“It was kind of quick, not very many plays,” Vaz said of the scrimmage portion of the spring game. “We got some good work in and went down and scored. I was happy with it.”

The performance likely didn’t move the needle as he will continue to jockey with Sean Mannion to be the starter for the opener. The two have, by most accounts, played fairly evenly throughout camp and will force the coaching staff to split hairs as they figure out who is deserving of more reps when August rolls around.

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“Take away the one interception and I thought Sean and Cody did some good things. They had two solid drives early in the scrimmage,” offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said. “(Backup) Brent VanderVeen got a lot of work. He made some nice throws but kind of got caught holding the ball kind of long. We don’t want to take sacks so we have to cut the ball loose quicker.”

The redshirt freshman signal-caller will remain on the outside looking in on the starter race, but the extra reps during spring practice likely were comforting for the staff as they think about the future.

The pair with starting experience – Mannion and Vaz – didn’t create much, if any, separation during the spring overall. However, they seemed to dial in and accomplish the one thing Langsdorf and Riley were looking for: consistency.

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“All in all it’s been a good spring for me,” Mannion said. “I made a lot of improvement and that’s really all I’m looking to do day-in and day-out.”

“Just be consistent and try to get better with each practice,” added Vaz. “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. So I always try to get better with each practice and be consistent.”

A season ago, the Beavers had a remarkable turnaround thanks to a largely improved run defense and a ground game that finally got going. The team won with both quarterbacks, but each had uneven performances while going in and out of the lineup for a variety of reasons. That hasn’t seemed to be the case in the spring with both fully healthy and focused on being the leader the team needs them to be.

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Neither Vaz nor Mannion jumped out and grabbed the job, but for a place that preaches competition, that might not be a bad thing heading into the offseason.

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