Beavers wrap disappointing season

A series of unfortunate events undid Oregon State this

season.

From a fall camp besieged by injuries, to the season-opening

loss to Sacramento State and the final 49-21 defeat to in-state

rival Oregon in the annual Civil War, 2011 was the Beavers’ worst

season since 1997.

Oregon State ended 3-9 overall and 3-6 in the Pac-12 Conference,

finishing out of the postseason for the second straight year.

”It’s not what we planned. We didn’t plan for the season to go

like this, didn’t plan to be hurt, but that’s how it happens,”

said senior safety Lance Mitchell. ”I think everything will work

out for the good. We’ll move on from here.”

While last year the Beavers could almost trace their woes to

losing leader James Rodgers to a left knee injury midway through

the season, this year’s issues were widespread.

It started before camp, when James Rodgers’ little brother,

dynamic running back Jacquizz Rodgers, decided to skip his senior

season and go to the NFL. Quizz, as he is known, now plays for the

Atlanta Falcons.

Five Beavers were coming off offseason surgery, including

Rodgers, starting quarterback Ryan Katz (right wrist), tight end

Joe Halahuni (shoulder), tailback Jordan Jenkins (shoulder) and

slotback Jordan Bishop (right ankle).

The injury bug snowballed, forcing coaches to constantly juggle

lineups, and when the season was over, only six positions had the

same starter through all 12 games.

When he got hurt last season at Arizona, James Rodgers was

ranked sixth in the nation with an average of 176.75 all-purpose

yards. He was also averaging 18.33 yards on punt returns and 28.67

yards on kickoff returns.

He was granted a fifth year of eligibility because of the

injury, but didn’t come back until the third game of the season

this year – and he never really regained the explosiveness he once

had.

The season opened with a resounding thud when Oregon State lost

at home to lower-division Sacramento State. The Hornets made a

two-point conversion after a touchdown in overtime to win it

29-28.

The only positive from the game was true freshman running back

Malcolm Agnew, who rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns. His

rushing yards were the third-most in a single game in Oregon State

history.

There were hopes that Agnew was the heir apparent to Jacquizz

Rodgers, but before he got a chance to prove it, he was sidelined

by a right hamstring injury that kept him out of five games.

After a 35-0 loss to No. 8 Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium,

coach Mike Riley did something that is still being debated: He

benched starting quarterback Ryan Katz in favor of redshirt

freshman Sean Mannion.

Mannion had replaced Katz in the game against the Hornets, and

then Katz was included on only a handful of plays against the

Badgers. But the decision caught many off guard, including Katz

himself.

Katz was granted his release from Oregon State on Sunday.

”I have considered Corvallis home for the past four years and

it’s been filled with many experiences and life lessons,” Katz

said in a statement. ”I want to thank all my supporters and I look

forward to writing the next chapter of my story.”

Mannion had growing pains in the job. While he finished with

3,332 yards passing (third most in school history) and 16

touchdowns, he also threw 18 interceptions.

In addition to the losses to Sacramento State and Wisconsin, the

Beavers also fell to UCLA and Arizona State before defeating

Arizona 37-27 at Reser Stadium. Wildcats coach Mike Stoops was

dismissed two days later. The only other two teams Oregon State

beat were Washington State and Washington.

Perhaps the most glaring issue for the Beavers was their running

game, which averaged a dismal 86.6 yards a game – surprising for a

team that in the past boasted such runners as Ken Simonton, Steven

Jackson, Yvenson Bernard and, of course, Quizz.

The season ended on a low note with the Civil War loss. James

Rodgers, who hurt his ankle in the victory over the Huskies the

week before, was unable to play in his final game with the

Beavers.

He finished as the school’s all-time leader in receptions with

222. He also set the mark for career all-purpose yards with 6,377.

After the Civil War loss he lingered outside Autzen Stadium for a

while, signing autographs and shaking hands with fans.

Though some were calling for Riley’s dismissal in the aftermath

of the season, that seemed unlikely. The coach, who grew up in

Corvallis and is the son of longtime assistant coach Bud Riley, is

widely respected and is under contract through 2019.

”I’m really proud of the way our team never quit,” Mannion

said. ”There were times where we didn’t play as well as we would

have liked, but the approach our team took … every practice and

every game was phenomenal. I’m really proud of the way we worked

this year.”