There are a number of quarterback competitions getting started at Pac-12 schools this spring, but none may be more complicated and interesting than the one in Corvallis between Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz. Unlike most of the other quarterback controversies that are springing up around the conference, Mannion vs. Vaz stems back to about halfway through the 2012 season when Vaz stepped in for the injured Mannion in October. Great cases for each player to be starter can be made and both have started and won games, so expect this battle to be the most interesting position battle in the conference this spring.
From an overall pure statistical standpoint, one would think that the senior Vaz might has the inside track as Vaz threw 11 touchdowns with just 3 interceptions compared to Mannion's 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Mannion also had some really ugly games in losses to Washington and Oregon in which he threw four interceptions in each that made it very hard for the Beavers to come away with wins. However, Vaz had a somewhat similar game in the Alamo Bowl when he threw two interceptions without a touchdown. This was very tough for Vaz, as a good performance in the bowl game likely would have locked down the starting job for him, but instead, his poor performance opened the competition wide open again heading into Spring.
Disregarding statistics and simply looking at physicality and potential though, Mannion seems like the obvious choice. He's bigger at 6'5 212 to the 6'1 198 Vaz, has a bigger arm and is a year younger so he has more potential in the long run. Mannion definitely has the tools and looks the part of an NFL quarterback, but you can never count out a guy like Vaz who might be better at limiting his mistakes and giving his team the best chance to win the game.
With both bringing a lot to the table, there is a very good chance that this one might not even be close to being resolved when the Beavers close up spring practice, so while it will be an interesting battle to watch, don't count on things being solidified for the Beavers in just a few weeks of practice. Ideally, I think the Beavers would like to see Mannion step up and grab the spot and fill out his high ceiling, but with his propensity for throwing the ball to the other team, we might not know if he has truly grabbed hold of the position until he starts a few games and avoids multiple interceptions games. And if this happens, expect Vaz to be waiting right there to jump in.
This one might come down to the wire and I wouldn't be surprised if both quarterbacks end up seeing good chunks of time in 2013.