No team has more questions in the Pac-12 than Oregon State. But an answer could be found on Oct. 9.
That's when quarterback Ryan Katz threw for 393 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score as the Beavers upset then-No. 9 Arizona 29-27 in Tucson. It was one of the best performances by a Pac-10 quarterback all season.
It also was the Beavers second consecutive victory as they swept the Arizona schools. Know which other teams in the Pac-10 beat both Arizona and Arizona State? Oregon, Stanford and USC. And the Beavers beat USC, too.
There was a lot of hope for the 2010 season then, even though the Beavers had dropped competitive games to TCU and Boise State. But there was also this: James Rodgers watching the final two quarters on crutches on the sidelines.
Before he blew out his knee, Rodgers had caught seven passes for 102 yards with a 33-yard touchdown. He and Katz were playing beautiful music together. But without Rodgers, the Beavers never were consistent again, stumbling to a 2-5 finish and 5-7 final mark, which included oddly impressive wins over California and USC by a combined count of 71-14.
While Beavers have big questions on both lines, injuries are the most nagging issue, chief among them being Rodgers and tight end/half back Joe Halahuni (shoulder).
What Katz knows -- or thinks he knows -- about the 2011 Beavers is this: If the wounds heal, a lot of questions will be answered.
"That's the big thing, getting all those guys on the field at the same time," he said.
Katz, a 6-foot-1, 214-pound junior with perhaps the strongest arm in a conference of strong arms, himself missed spring practice with a wrist injury. But he said he is "100 percent, no problems. It's felt good for three months."
Rodgers has been "running well" -- said Katz -- but there's still no firm timeline on when he could return to full-go action. Halahuni figures to miss the first two weeks of the season, including a trip to Wisconsin.
Further, camp hasn't been good to the injury list, with defensive tackle Kevin Frahm suffering a knee sprain that will sideline him at least a couple of weeks and impressive true freshman receiver Brandin Cooks spraining his ankle. Linebacker Cameron Collins is still recovering from abdominal surgery and has yet to practice.
All these questions have engendered lower expectations than usual in Corvallis -- at least from fans and media. Katz is aware of this but unfazed by it.
"A lot of people have their opinion about us and whether we are ranked, but we have our own opinion on this team," he said.
Katz noted four returning starters, including three seniors, on the offensive line, a maligned unit he said he thinks is "getting the message." He noted that receiver Markus Wheaton and Jordan Bishop are looking good.
Questions, sure. Katz -- just like coach Mike Riley -- acknowledges they are there. But he sees potential answers, too. What if the Beavers can rediscover that team from Oct. 9 in Tucson?
Said Katz, "Guys know what we can do if we are all healthy and all clicking."