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Thursday, September 22, 2011
3-point stance: James Rodgers returns

By Ivan Maisel

1. Before the season began, Oregon State coach Mike Riley worried aloud that flanker James Rodgers, recovering from a severe knee injury, might be better off if he redshirted and applied for a sixth season of eligibility. Rodgers is healthy enough that doctors have cleared him to play Saturday against UCLA. How much -- and how quickly -- he will resemble the James Rodgers of 2008-10 is a coldhearted question given the long rehabilitation. It will be interesting to see Rodgers answer it nonetheless.

2. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has adapted well to head coach Dana Holgorsen’s spread offense. In three games, Smith has completed 17 passes of 20 yards or more, nearly half the number (35) that the Mountaineers completed in all of 2010 (thanks, ESPN Stats & Info). However, No. 2 LSU, which visits Morgantown on Saturday night, has allowed but two completions of more than 20 yards this season. Big plays, moreso than usual, will tell the tale at Milan Puskar Stadium.

3. East Carolina has posted a web page describing the breadth of its fan support just in case anyone from, oh, an AQ conference wanders by (thanks, Big East blogger Andrea Adelson). The Pirates’ average attendance in 2010, 49,665, would have ranked fourth in the Big East. Their games drew more in-state viewers than did North Carolina State. East Carolina’s in-state popularity has never been as much of an issue as its lack of a profile outside North Carolina. Establishing that is the rub.