The college football season opens next week, and five Pacific-12 Conference teams have yet to formally name a starting quarterback.
Oregon State, Washington State, Colorado, Arizona and USC haven’t made their starters official. In some cases, it might just be coaching strategy, but in others, the competition is just too close to call.
The 25th-ranked Beavers fall into the latter category, with coach Mike Riley still trying to decide between Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz.
Mannion started the first four games last season but injured his left knee and required arthroscopic surgery. Vaz stepped in and won the next two games, giving the Beavers their best start since they also went 6-0 in 1907. Both were used the rest of the way as Oregon State went to the Alamo Bowl and finished 9-4.
Riley said he probably would use both in next Saturday’s opener against Eastern Washington.
“I know from a personal standpoint, everybody wants to be named ‘The Guy,’ right?” Riley told reporters this week. “And some would probably profess that it would make it better (to know the starter), that it would help them relax and play better. But this is not a game about relaxing. It’s a game about responding to pressure and playing under pressure.”
At Washington State, it appears that Mike Leach will make opening opponent Auburn wait longer to know for sure, but junior Connor Halliday is pretty much a lock.
Halliday completed 52 percent of his passes for 1,874 yards, with 15 touchdowns in 2012. But he also threw 13 interceptions, many by forcing the ball into coverage. That might be why Leach has left the door open for freshman Austin Apodaca — or maybe not. Leach isn’t saying.
The Cougars have an especially tough start, opening the season next Saturday at Auburn before traveling to USC in Week 2.
At No. 24 USC, coach Lane Kiffin hasn’t decided between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, who are trying to succeed Matt Barkley.
While Wittek started the Trojans’ final two games last season, losing to Notre Dame and to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, Kessler has seemed to be a bit sharper than Wittek in spring ball and summer workouts.
USC opens the season Thursday night at Hawaii.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said he might be forced to play two or three players at quarterback in the early games this season. Senior B.J. Denker was a backup to Matt Scott last season, and freshman Anu Solomon and transfers Jesse Scroggins and Nick Isham also are in the mix.
The Wildcats will host Northern Arizona on Friday.
New Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre is trying to choose between four candidates. While it appears that junior Connor Wood is the front-runner, junior-college transfer Jordan Gehrke, sophomore Stevie Joe Dorman and former Bellarmine Prep standout Sefo Liufau also are being considered.
The Buffaloes open with Colorado State on Sept. 1.
Appalachian State suspended Southern Conference freshman of the year Sean Price for an “undetermined number of games.” Price, who caught 81 passes for 1,196 yards last season in 10 games, was arrested on charges of being intoxicated and disruptive Sunday. ... Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher announced that Jameis Winston will be the starting quarterback against Pittsburgh on Sept. 2. Winston succeeds EJ Manuel, a Buffalo Bills first-round draft pick. ... Redshirt sophomore Jake Rudock will be the starting quarterback when Iowa opens against Northern Illinois. ... Florida running back Matt Jones (viral infection) and right guard Jon Halapio (chest muscle) were ruled out for the opener against Toledo. ... The Liberty Bowl reached a six-year deal with the Big 12 that will take effect in the 2014 season. The bowl will match a Big 12 Conference team against an SEC squad.