OSU football notebook: Rodgers still enjoying his senior year despite the losses

2011-11-10T04:00:00Z 2011-11-11T09:26:34Z OSU football notebook: Rodgers still enjoying his senior year despite the lossesBy CLIFF KIRKPATRICK, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

Oregon State receiver James Rodgers is still getting the most out of his senior season, even though it’s not going as he hoped.

Rodgers came back from a severe knee injury last year to make an impact for the Beavers this season.

He’s not the go-to guy like he was, but Rodgers is slowly being used more and has 35 catches for 394 yards and two touchdowns.

“James is feeling better and better,” coach Mike Riley said. “It has been good for us. We are finding a pretty good balance with our passing game. We continue to grow and I’m excited to see James play a big role in that.”

The Beavers (2-7), however, will suffer their second straight losing season.

When Rodgers was hurt at midseason last year, the season began to unravel. The Beavers are 4-12 since his injury.

“Our motivation is to continue to play strong,” Rodgers said. “Obviously the season is not going the way we planned. We can’t cry about losing. We still have three games left. We are trying to make the most of those three games.”

Rodgers will leave a mark with the Beavers.

He is already the career-leader in all-purpose yards with 6,251, and is in reach of the career receptions record of 220 by Mike Hass (2002-05). Rodgers has 212.

The career touchdown mark of 20 held by Hass and James Newson (2000-03) is in reach, too. He has 18.

“I don’t focus on that,” Rodgers said. “I focus on the team aspect. I would trade a record for team success.”

Another reason Rodgers came back this season was to prove to NFL scouts he can still play.

He should be back to full strength in the spring when players work out for scouts.

“I’m feeling better each week,” Rodgers said. “I go out there and practice hard. Of course you want to win more games. I’m not upset. I’m just trying to compete with my teammates for my last season.”

Unga waits, hopes

Starting middle linebacker Kevin Unga is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game against California. If he misses the game it will be four in a row.

“Right now it’s day by day,” Unga said. “Every week I have my hopes up to play. This week, I have to do more rehab. If I get back, then good. If not, next week.”

Unga was injured on the first play against BYU on Oct. 15. His left leg was twisted while planted and hyperextended.

He strained the ligaments in his calf that attach to the back of the knee. For a while it was difficult to walk, but now he’s running and lifting. Surgery is not expected.

“I’m feeling a lot better now,” Unga said. “Before I couldn’t do much. It’s has been frustrating, knowing this is my first year starting and I’m out of it. I’m just worried about coming back and having more success than I have been. I’m trying to rush back as soon as I can.”

Unga’s absence has impacted the run defense. He led the Pac-12 in tackles at the time of his injury with 45. He averaged 9.0 tackles a game before the injury.

Going home

Quarterback Sean Mannion is excited about playing in San Francisco’s AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants.

He grew up in the Bay Area and is a baseball fan. His family had season tickets to the Giants.

Mannion didn’t plan to play baseball in college because he didn’t think he was good enough.

“It’s going to be exciting playing in there, but we are focused on the game,” Mannion said.

Poyer’s big season

Junior cornerback Jordan Poyer is tied for second in the country in passes defended with 15 and tied for second in pass breakups with 12. He’s closing in on school record of 19 passes defended, held by Andrae Holland (1998).

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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