Spotlight on new QBs for Oregon State, Stanford
STANFORD, Calif. — Most teams that are unsettled at quarterback this late in the season are unranked, no longer in control in their conference championship race or out of contention for a BCS bowl game.
Then there's Stanford and Oregon State.
In the biggest game for both programs so far this season, Kevin Hogan will make his first start at quarterback for the No. 16 Cardinal against newcomer Cody Vaz and the No. 13 Beavers on Saturday. The winner will keep alive its chance to represent the North Division in the Pac-12 title game.
“Usually you're in these positions because your quarterback is playing well,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “But I think both teams also have to do what's necessary to help their teams win.”
Hogan, a strong-armed and fast-footed redshirt freshman, had increasingly been inserted over the previous four games on read-option packages until relieving inconsistent starter Josh Nunes after Stanford's first two drives at Colorado stalled last week. Hogan shredded the nation's worst defense, throwing for 184 yards and two TDs and running for 48 yards in two quarters to lead the Cardinal (7-2, 5-1) past Colorado, 48-0.
Shaw called Hogan by phone Monday to inform him he'd be making his first start against the Beavers. He told his new quarterback to “just keep doing what you're doing. Don't try and do too much and help the team out,” Hogan said.
The Beavers boast the more experienced starting quarterback — albeit by three games.
Vaz had started two games for Oregon State (7-1, 5-1) while starter Sean Mannion recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery. Mannion returned on Oct. 27 at Washington, throwing four interceptions before Vaz replaced him in a 20-17 loss for the only blemish on the Beavers' record.
Vaz overcame a shaky start to throw for 267 yards and three TDs in Oregon State's 36-26 home win over Arizona State last week. Now he will make his fourth start — but just the second that is non-injury related — in a pressure-packed environment at Stanford Stadium, where the Cardinal have won seven straight and 18 of the past 19 games.
“They're a great football team. We all know that,” Vaz said. “They do a lot of great things defensively, so it will be a battle.”