BF.C Spotlight: Ryan Katz

CORVALLIS – Mike Riley couldn't have liked the scene unfolding. Ryan Katz wasn't getting up. A missed assignment on a Louisville blitz let the strongside linebacker run roughshod over the OSU quarterback. A home opener, supposed to be an "easy" win, was suddenly in doubt. BF.C watched Katz every play Saturday, to see those things usually missed when casually viewing a game. Here's what we saw..

Ryan Katz isn't that far away. There were flashes on Saturday, along with some thuds -- some touch passes the went begging, some key third downs converted.

And right now, he's in "almost" mode. And that 23-for-30 kind of day, with 4TDs and no picks, is coming. That much has been made clear and was reinforced on Saturday.

But when it gets here, no one can say. Still, it might not be as far away for the sophomore as some might think.

Three years is one hell of a long time to wait, particularly for a quarterback. And Katz might be a little too anxious right now. There's a reason why many senior quarterbacks suddenly blossom – time and experience. But there are others who take a bigger piece of the stage earlier, and Katz can be one of them.

Katz is learning each time out, and every Saturday will help provide a piece to the puzzle. One of the lessons learned this week had to do with playing smart vs. playing mano-a-mano. Katz had a couple passes he didn't get rid of quickly enough, a couple runs where he didn't get down soon enough. But the shot he took in the end zone might cure him of that. Fortunately for OSU, the lesson came without long lasting effect.

"He got me right underneath the shoulder pads, just knocked the wind out of me. I was alright," said Katz.

Well, maybe not at first. Katz did not get up for quite some time and the team doctors huddling around him made the situation seem worse. Katz was clutching his chest area in obvious pain when he came to the sidelines and Cody Vaz came in for the rest of the series – two incomplete passes.

But then Katz returned, and though he didn't lead the Beavs on another TD drive, one that would have sealed the game, he completed three of his six pass attempts in the fourth quarter and three first downs. It was barely enough, but it was still enough.

Katz got off to a shaky start and was sacked twice, once on each of his first two drives to open up the game. But he seems to play more relaxed, and was more effective, when his back wasn't up against the wall.

And James Rodgers is a human short field. His punt and kickoff return led to Katz' best moments on Saturday – two lightning quick scoring drives in the space of a little over five minutes.

"It's huge… it cuts the field in half," said Katz.

Katz' deep ball has yet to be realized this year. He let fly again on Saturday, one of those rocket-like heaves seen time and time again in fall camp, but just like in the TCU game, it was just long. Katz and crew need to hit one of those (or more) against Boise State if they're going to win. Not just because of what the play will produce, but for the confidence of a young sophomore quarterback and the Beaver offense he leads.

This could have been a game in which Oregon State lost, and not by a close margin. Katz, however, was an efficient 15 of 26 for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and he didn't make the mistakes that kill a team in crunch time.

"I felt really good. That is how we look, and we went over all of that stuff in practice. They did what we thought they were going to do. (But) we had drive killers, and we need to convert on those," said Katz.

Drive killers indeed….

Third and five from their own 36: Katz incomplete to Jordan Bishop.

Third and two from the Louisville 41: Katz incomplete to Aaron Nichols.

Third and two from their own 44: A loss of one by Jacquizz Rodgers.

The learning curve for a quarterback in the Pac-10 conference is steep, and Katz can either learn from this now or later. It would behoove him and the Beavs if he's a quick study.

The smurf colored turf at Boise State figures to be a lot less forgiving than the white jerseys of Louisville.

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