World, meet Cody Vaz. Cody, world. How do you do? Nice to meet you. And so on and so on. Now that introductions are out of the way, it's time to get to work.
This time last year, a quarterback change at Oregon State wouldn't have made national news. Come to think of it, there was one -- and while it sent low-tide ripples through the Pacific Northwest and among Pac-12 blog readers, the rest of the nation hardly noticed that an 0-2 Beavers team was making a switch to some guy named Sean Manning, or Madden, or something like that.
Well, another switch has happened, though this one is born out of injury. Vaz must temporarily pick up the torch for Sean Mannion and his surgically repaired knee. For how long remains to be seen. But the fact that he's taking over a 4-0 squad that's ranked in the top 10 ... well now, that's national news.
Vaz will make his first collegiate start on the road at BYU, a team with a knack for getting to quarterbacks and keeping teams off the scoreboard. That in itself is daunting. But when you look at what Mannion had accomplished in the first four games of his sophomore campaign, it's clear that Vaz, a junior, has some high standards to live up to.
Through four games, Mannion had commanded an offense that ranked fourth in the conference, averaging just shy of 460 yards per game, and has been the Pac-12's No. 2 passing attack. Individually, Mannion ranked second in the conference in passing and fifth in pass efficiency.
So the bar is elevated. But Mannion didn’t get those numbers all on his own. He had help from outstanding wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks. He got protection from an offensive line that has only allowed nine sacks (fourth in the conference) and a running game that is slowly coming together.
Vaz doesn’t have to do it all. What he does have to do is be efficient, not get caught up in the moment and -- above all else -- protect the football. Oregon State’s defense is playing as well as any in the Pac-12. He probably won’t need to score 35-plus to get a win. Heck, anything in the 14-to-21-point range could be enough.
Even though Vaz is transforming from backup to starter this week, it doesn’t mean the entire Oregon State offense needs to transform in the process.