Saturday, September 4, 2010
Oregon State needs a cool Katz
By Ted Miller
ARLINGTON, Texas -- At some point tonight, Ryan Katz will look up at the world largest video screen that hangs over the Cowboys Stadium field and he will watch a replay of himself.
Wonder what he will see? A pretty TD pass. Or a wobbly interception. Maybe a little of both.
No matter what a young quarterback looks like during fall camp, you just don't know how he will perform when the lights go on and the game counts. And this is a heck of a "bright lights, big city" venue.
If Katz keeps his cool and plays like the guy who's raised more than a few impressed eyebrows in Corvallis, the Beavers have a good chance to upset No. 6 TCU tonight.
If he gets rattled, throws late or early or off target, then it could be a long night.
While playing TCU in Texas operates as a road game, noise probably won't be an issue. No more than 40,000 folks will be here and that will not fill up half of this HUGE stadium, and there's a good contingent of Orange-clad Beavers down here anyway.
Nor will the Texas humidity be an issue. The roof is closed.
So it's going to be all about, as coaches say, execution. Who's going to make plays?
TCU counters the green Katz with 29-game winner Andy Dalton, an efficient, athletic quarterback who's trying to put a bad night in the Fiesta Bowl behind him.
Dalton's supporting skill, however, won't be as good as Katz's. The Rodgers brothers, running back Jacquizz Rodgers and receiver James Rodgers, are the two best places for Katz to look for help. Both can turn a modest-looking play into something full of sound and fury signifying a TD.
The Beavers have some defensive questions. For one, they struggled to pressure opposing QBs last year. Dalton's too good to be allowed to feel comfortable in the pocket.
Then there's the run defense. The Beavers are breaking in a new middle linebacker -- Rueben Robinson probably gets the first snap but Tony Wilson likely will split time with him -- and end Taylor Henry is trying to play through a sprained ankle. The Horned Frogs top-two running backs, Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker, combined for 1,300 yards last year and both averaged over six yards per carry. Four starting offensive linemen from 2009 are back.
If Katz is as cool as advertised, and the defense can get to Dalton, the Beavers could do something they rarely do: Start a season fast.
A win also would send a message that the Beavers are eyeballing their first Rose Bowl since 1965.