QB Ryan Katz will be key to Oregon St.'s success this season, and is ready for spring practice, which starts today. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
Spring break is over, which means three things. Spring term starts today, and parking in Corvallis is back to being a disaster. But it also means spring football starts, with the first practice at 2 PM today! After a bad afternoon at the ball park, and three weekends of watching other teams play meaningful basketball games, Oregon St. fans are ready for some Beaver news, hopefully good news.
One of the best pieces came when QB Ryan Katz saw the doctor last week, and received clearance on his wrist to participate in spring drills. Katz had broken a bone in his throwing hand in the Civil War, and though he finished the game, had surgery in the winter to expedite repairs.
As a result, Katz spent much of his time over winter term resting and doing rehab. The healing process meant he couldn't lift weights as usual, and he couldn't throw to his receivers full speed during the player organized practices.
"I just had to wait for the bone to heal," Katz said. "I couldn't do too much with it until the bone heals; just some flexibility work."
Katz still ran with his teammates, led the offense in drills, and even developed a left-handed pass as a way to help his receivers warm up.
Katz will be ready to work when the team begins the first of 15 spring practices this afternoon, though his throwing speed and amount might not be 100 percent right away. Katz and Oregon St. coach Mike Riley anticipate he should be by the end, though.
"I don't think I'll do that in games," Katz said, "but I've been working my left, and it's getting better."
"He'll ease into throwing because there's no reason to push too hard," Riley explained. "When he's ready, he'll get the No. 1 turns. We're being careful with it. We are not going to rush him in. The goal for him is to have some work in the spring and then be ready for the fall."
In the meantime, Riley will take a good look at both Cody Vaz, who was #2 last year, but played only briefly, and in just 5 games, and Sean Mannion. Mannion, a redshirt freshman, is expected to make a run at the backup job, and sophomore Jack Lomax will get some work this spring.
Meanwhile, Katz will be honing aspects of his game that don't involve his wrist.
"I'll be trying to get timing down with the different routes, five steps, three steps, and just getting the ball out quicker," Katz said. "We are stressing to the receivers to be ready because the ball is going to be coming out quicker this year."
With the departure for the NFL draft of Jacquizz Rodgers, there is little doubt that the ball will be in the air a lot this fall. James Rodgers, recovering from his knee surgery, and Jordan Bishop, rehabbing an ankle injury, will be working with the team, but not in contact, or full speed during the spring. Both are progressing, and expect to be in the starting lineup come September 3, when the Beavers kickoff against Sacramento St.
Marcus Wheaton and Joe Halahuni are at full speed this spring, and Oregon St. will also get in a lot of work for Darrell Catchings. Geno Munoz will work this year in the slot, in Bishop's absence, and Micah Hatfield, Kevin Cummings, Obum Gwacham, and Mitch Singler will all benefit from the opportunity to get the reps James Rodgers and Bishop would absorb. Finding who will step up the way graduated Aaron Nichols did last season will be the objective.
Once James and Bishop are back, the receivers as a group are without a doubt the deepest, most talented, and most dangerous unit Oregon St. has currently, so even if the search for a replacement strategy for 'Quizz goes better that even the wildest hopes, with a now experienced, as well as strong armed Katz at the trigger, look for the ball in the air a lot, with the foundation getting laid this month.