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Katz comes out of OSU's spring game the quarterback leader

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Katz comes out of OSU's spring game the quarterback
Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz in action during the spring game at Reser Stadium on Saturday. (Andy Cripe/Gazette-Times)

CORVALLIS - A breakdown of how all the quarterbacks performed during the Oregon State football team's spring game only goes so far in determining who the starter will be come the fall.

Coach Mike Riley says an official decision will be made in the offseason after careful thought with his staff.

However, it only takes some easy reading between the lines to figure out the way the Beavers are leaning.

Sophomore Ryan Katz started out spring practice working with the first string and his position never wavered. He delivered solid outings practice after practice and also received the bulk of the work in the spring game Saturday afternoon in Reser Stadium.

"It's obvious Ryan is getting most of the turns and works with the first group," Riley said. "But I don't see any reason to make a big announcement. We'll meet many times in the next month. Before we make a decision we'll talk with the staff and players, and we'll make a decision before fall camp."

There were some rough moments during the spring but Katz kept moving forward. Not only did his play improve during the 15 practices, so did his confidence.

He started out firing a steady diet of 95 mph fastballs to all areas of the field. Now, he has a change-up to throw the ball with touch between defenders.

"The spring went well," Katz said. "I got better as it progressed. Throughout the winter we ran routes and I was in the film room and was ready."

Katz still missed a few passes in the spring game, but showed the best of the group under consideration for the starter role.

Fourth-stringer Jack Lomax was the most efficient quarterback of the day, going against third and fourth string defenders.

Katz admitted being anxious before the spring. He worked two years to be the one to take over the offense, after graduating from Santa Monica High near Los Angeles a semester early.

Two weeks into the spring, Katz felt the anxiety go away. He was comfortable from the repetition of practice.

So does that mean he's ready to be the man?

"I think so," Katz said. "It went well enough to say that. I came out and did what I wanted to do."

Katz was 9 of 20 passing for 123 yards with a touchdown and an interception Saturday. He produced three scores on his nine possessions.

He began the day with a scoring drive that ended with a 14-yard pass to Markus Wheaton. That combination should be seen many times in the future.

He put together another scoring drive that was capped off with a Jordan Jenkins rushing touchdown. Another drive resulted in a Justin Kahut field goal

Third-string quarterback Cody Vaz moved the team into position for two field goals. Lomax dazzled the crowd with four scoring drives. He threw three TDs to Mitch Singler, and Ryan McCants ran one in.

Peter Lalich started out competing with Katz, but now has to keep Vaz back for the backup spot. He was 6 of 12 for 47 yards and an interception in the end zone.

"It started off good and got ragged," Riley said. "With the second group we had a lot of snapping problems. They were there in practice, but not like today. But all the quarterbacks made some good plays."

Now that the spring is over, the Beavers hit the weight room to become stronger and faster.

Katz is already planning how to get the offensive players together during their spare time. They'll work on the offense they just learned so the team can start training camp fast on Aug. 9

"I think I have to take (what was learned) this spring and head into summer workouts," Katz said. "Summer workouts are going to be huge. We have three months before fall camp. We have to get in tip-top shape and I have to start throwing with my receivers."

Spoken like someone ready to be the man.

Cliff Kirkpatrick covers the Oregon State football team for the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Read more about the Beavers on his blog at cliffkirkpatrick.mvour


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