Katz
OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- The Jacquizz Rodgers era is finished at Oregon State, which means all eyes are on quarterback Ryan Katz to lead the offense.

That's just fine with Katz.

The Oregon State junior enters his second season as a starter bigger, stronger and more polished. He has asserted himself as one of the team's leaders, leading a large group of Beavers through voluntary, player-led drills over the summer.

One thing that hasn't changed is the confidence that has been a hallmark ever since he graduated early from Santa Monica High in California to arrive at spring practice in 2008.

"I'm seeing things quicker, making faster decisions," he said. "As things slow down, you can do more. That's one thing -- you always have to improve as a quarterback, and I think I have been improving."

That's positive news for 11th-year coach Mike Riley and the rest of the Beavers, who will be relying on Katz to lead an offense likely to be more pass heavy than in the past, when the Beavers' attack ran through the elusive Rodgers, now with the Atlanta Falcons.

Last season, Katz's job was to make good decisions, avoid mistakes and allow Rodgers and other Oregon State veterans to carry the load.

He did an admirable job, completing 60 percent of his passes for 2,401 yards and 18 touchdowns. Nine of his 11 interceptions came during three games and he started the season with 129 pass attempts without a pick.

This season, the Beavers will need Katz to do more.

Physically, he appears to be up to the task. He has added five pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-1, 214-pound frame. The Beavers plan to take advantage of Katz's speed and quickness by adding a "read option" package to their pro-style offense. But he is mostly known for his strong arm.

"I think what sets him apart is his ability to throw deep," said receiver James Rodgers, who is Jacquizz's older brother. "He has a real strong arm. He can stand up there and throw the ball at least 50 or 60 yards on a three-step drop."

Katz sat out spring practice this year while recovering from a broken right wrist suffered in last season's finale against Oregon. He says the wrist is 100 percent and has grown so tired of questions about it that he asked reporters to stop asking.

Oregon State quarterbacks have a history of making big strides in their second years as a starter (Derek Anderson, Matt Moore and Sean Canfield). Katz is in his fourth year in the program but Riley said he has plenty still do learn.

"It's still a work in progress," Riley said. "That's a never-ending story for quarterbacks. You know that you've got to get quicker recognition, know where to go with the ball, and really know when to bail out, throw the ball away. So it's really never ending."

Jacquizz Rodgers does not have a sure successor yet, though the frontrunner appears to be freshman Malcolm Agnew. Katz also has a number of play-making receivers to throw to, including James Rodgers, speedy sophomore Markus Wheaton and freshman Brandin Cooks. Rodgers and tight end Joe Halahuni may miss the few first games as they recover from injuries.

The prospect of sharing the field with two freshmen does not concern Katz, who believes the offense can still be productive without Jacquizz Rodgers.

"Someone's got to step up," he said. "But I feel like every year I have been here someone new has had to step up and it's always happened. When you lose a player, it creates an opportunity for someone else to step up and I think someone will."