Beavers have bye to reflect on TCU, look ahead

BY foxsports • September 8, 2010

It's a week of reflection for the Oregon State Beavers.

But far from lamenting what might have been in the season opener against TCU, the Beavers will be using the game's teaching moments to prepare for the home opener against Louisville on Sept. 18.

''If you don't learn anything and just played a good football team and got beat, then it's no use to you,'' coach Mike Riley said.

The Beavers hung with TCU at Cowboys Stadium until late in the fourth quarter, when a safety all but put the game out of reach. The Horned Frogs rose two spots in the AP poll to No. 4 as a result of the 30-21 victory. The Beavers, who were ranked No. 24 in the preseason, dropped out.

There are a few things the Beavers can consider from the loss over the course of the bye, Riley said. First there's the issue of Jacquizz Rodgers.

The diminutive yet explosive running back had just 18 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown. The yardage seemed paltry considering he averaged nearly 111 yards per game last season. But more glaring is that Rodgers didn't catch a single pass against TCU, compared to an average of six receptions last season.

Riley called the absence of catches for Rodgers ''a failure,'' but added that some of it was simply what the game dictated because the Beavers were having trouble on third downs.

''Situationally, running only 51 plays and having too many third-and-longs, we did not get involved in that part of our game enough, or had no rhythm,'' Riley said. ''And then the other thing is, some of our stuff that goes down the field, he has to become our primary check-down if something's not there.''

The Beavers also will no doubt take a look at the safety that appeared to seal their fate against the Horned Frogs. Oregon State was within reach, trailing by only a touchdown when the miscue occurred with 4:14 left.

''I was absolutely dumbstruck by the play at the end of the game,'' Riley said during a conference call with the coaches of the Pac-10 on Tuesday.

Ryan Katz, making his first start as quarterback for the Beavers, was calling an audible when the center snapped the ball over his right shoulder. To ensure that TCU didn't jump on the ball for a touchdown, Katz wound up kicking the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

''We should have stayed with the (original) play,'' Katz said afterward. ''That was on me. It was just a bad check.''

A bright spot in the loss? Junior safety Lance Mitchell was named the Pac-10's defensive player of the week because of his career-high 18 tackles.

After Louisville, rebuilding under new coach Charlie Strong, the Beavers visit the blue turf of No. 3 Boise State. Many are already looking at Oregon State as the team with the best chance to topple the Broncos for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, the Beavers are infamous for getting off to slow starts in the preseason, then coming on strong in conference play. Oregon State has started 2-2 for the last six seasons, but for the last four years they've finished in the top half of the Pac-10 and earned bowl berths.

Last season Oregon State even challenged Oregon for the Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl trip, but came up short with a loss to the Ducks in the Civil War game.

Riley doesn't mind the insanely difficult September slate - although don't look for the Beavers to do this again in the near future.

''We're going to be tested. By the time we get to the Pac-10 we'll have played some tremendous competition,'' he said. ''I don't know that you have to approach it like this every year, I don't think we will, for sure. It kind of fell this way this year, taking the opportunity with TCU.

''But I like it for a couple of reasons. I think you learn a lot about your team against top-notch opponents, and then the players learn a lot about playing in big games and understanding that against good competition the windows of opportunity are small.''

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