May 12, 2020

On Ryan Katz and kicking the can down the road

Ryan Katz plays Scattergories with Benny Beaver, which is about as much game action as he saw last season.

So it has come to this: A football post on January 9. It’s on the quarterback situation, too — a topic that will probably be covered in no fewer than 57 different posts this summer.

Look, I’m sorry. It’s not my fault. Blame tomorrow’s hoops game against winless Chicago State and the fact that Steve Fisher’s boys haven’t played a mildly interesting contest in a month.

You’ll get football and like it, mister!

Anyway, some stuff you probably already know: The Aztecs have been hot on the tail of former Oregon State Beavers quarterback Ryan Katz for the past month or so. Not only is that worth noting, but a sentence with the words “hot”, “tail”, and “Beavers” in it is sure to bolster my web traffic.

Katz, who was Mike Riley’s starter in 2020 before being replaced at halftime of last season’s mildly embarrassing opener, can play immediately at San Diego State if he enrolls in a grad program. Word is he is looking to follow in the footsteps of his famous psychiatrist father.

It’s an interesting possibility to be sure. But honestly? Not sure I’m on board with it.

While I can’t say I’ve witnessed a lot of Beaver action (sorry, I’ll stop now) over the past couple of years, here’s what I do know about Katz:

  • He went 5-7 in his one season as a starter, which sounds bad until you look at who he faced. Yikes. I wasn’t aware Rick Bay was in charge of making Oregon State’s 2020 football schedule.
  • That season, he completed 60 percent of his passes and produced a higher quarterback rating (126.4) than Ryan Lindley posted in three of his four seasons.
  • He probably won’t be overly intimidated by opening the season at Washington.
  • Judging from web comments, many OSU fans believe Katz got jobbed.
  • This was one of his wins:

So yeah, as a one-year stopgap, he’s somewhere between pretty OK and not too shabby at all.

So why is my enthusiasm for Katz tepid at best? Because if he comes, you know he’s going to start. And that means that the inexperienced quarterback we were expecting to break in against this weak-ass schedule and a down Mountain West, will instead be learning the ropes as the Aztecs try not to embarrass themselves in their first year in the Big East.

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To me, the question comes down to this: Do you think the Aztecs, who will face one ranked team this year at most, could make a bowl game with Chad Jeffries, Adam Dingwell, or Matt Morin at quarterback? And if so, wouldn’t you rather see one of those guys learn on the job now rather than in 2020?

I’m inclined to say yes. It looks like Rocky Long doesn’t agree.

My hope, then, is that Rocky and Andy Ludwig decide to split the difference: Start Katz but also identify a quarterback of the future in camp. Then find ways to get that person some game action.

Related Blog Post: Game Recap: Rocky Beane shows he might be too smart for his own good

I don’t mean a two-quarterback system — nobody who saw Ted Tollner alternate Adam Hall and Long Sheriff like he was taking a blind cola taste test could ever vouch for that nonsense. But maybe bring one of the kids in to be a “slash” player or to run the wildcat. That could be an effective change of pace, especially since — judging from the rushing stats — Katz is about as mobile as Jeffries carrying Morin in a baby backpack.

But if it’s just Katz and only Katz? It just seems like putting the inevitable growing pains off until a season when the Aztecs can ill afford them. Not sure about you, but I just can’t get behind it.

On the other hand, there’s the prospect of a season chock full of Beaver jokes. That I’m definitely on board with.

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