Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's difficult to imagine a worse start to Mike Riley's ninth season at the Oregon State helm than the one he's just endured; the Beavers fell 29-28 in Week 1 to FCS Sacramento State, then suffered a 35-0 shutout shellacking on the road at Wisconsin. So it's no surprise Riley is ringing in the changes--or that he's starting at quarterback.
Via CBSSports.com Oregon State RapidReporter Cliff Kirkpatrick, Riley announced Tuesday that previous starter Ryan Katz has been demoted to second string in favor of redshirt freshman Sean Mannion. The Beavers will not rotate the two quarterbacks, as they did against the Badgers.
"The thing that emerged with [Mannion] in spring practice and fall camp was he made really good decisions and got the ball out of his hands," Riley said. "And he’s very accurate. Those are very good qualities."
Also a good quality: outperforming the other candidate. To date, Mannion has completed 66 percent of his passes for 7.7 yards an attempt, without an interception; Katz is completing 52 percent for just 4.2 yards at attempt with one pick, despite playing most of the game against the FCS Hornets.
"It’s not a comparison of [Katz] getting worse. We thought this other guy is playing better," Riley added. "It’s not he did this or not. This guy (Mannion) kept rising and in our mind earned the right to be a starter."
The good news for Mannion and the Beavers is that he'll have two weeks to adjust to his starting assignment before his team hosts UCLA Sept. 24. The bad news is that his team likely needs every minute of the extra preparation; in addition to Oregon State's moribund play, they're beyond banged up, with starting guard Josh Andrews the latest injury casualty. Andrews will miss at least six weeks with an MCL sprain suffered during the Wisconsin loss.
So it won't be easy for Riley and Mannion to get the Beavers' ship turned around. But if they can't do it with the help of a bye week before facing what appears ot be a very ordinary Bruin squad, it might be time to start looking towards 2012 already.
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