San Diego State's Ryan Katz has a Seattle history
Quarterback has ridden a roller coaster through college football
Seattle Times staff reporter
Ryan Katz returns to Seattle on Saturday for the third consecutive year as a college quarterback, hoping this visit is a little more enjoyable than the first two.
Katz now is the starting quarterback for San Diego State, which will play Washington on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at CenturyLink Field in the season opener for both teams.
The previous four years, he was a quarterback at Oregon State, and the season-opening starter the past two.
In 2010, Katz started against UW at Husky Stadium when Washington won a double-overtime thriller, 35-34. It was a game not decided until a Katz pass intended for tight end Joe Halahuni for a potential game-winning two-point conversion fell incomplete.
That game could be viewed as something of a turning point for both Katz and the Beavers. He was the reigning Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week when the Beavers came to Seattle, having thrown for 393 yards in a victory at No. 9 Arizona the previous Saturday.
But the defeat against the Huskies sent the Beavers on a tailspin as they would lose five of their last seven to finish with their first losing record since 2005. And when the Beavers opened the 2011 season with a stunning home defeat against FCS-level Sacramento State, OSU coach Mike Riley benched Katz in favor of redshirt freshman Sean Mannion, essentially building for the future. Katz started the following week at Wisconsin but was removed after the first series in favor of Mannion and did not play in OSU's last 10 games of the season.
When OSU played Washington State at CenturyLink in mid-October, Katz could do little but watch as Mannion led the Beavers past the Cougars. Katz was already making plans for his future elsewhere.
Because Katz, a product of Santa Monica, Calif., had already received his degree at Oregon State, he was able to transfer and immediately be eligible. Having been recruited by San Diego State offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig out of high school when Ludwig was at Utah, Katz found the Aztecs a natural fit — especially because San Diego State had an opening at quarterback with the graduation of four-year starter Ryan Lindley.
"It wasn't working out at Oregon State," he said. "I wanted to play and I didn't get that opportunity there last year so I decided to transfer and I thought this was a good place, a good fit. I had a great opportunity to come in and play."
And Katz makes it clear he'd prefer to talk about what's ahead rather than what might have been at Oregon State, including that last play at Husky Stadium in 2010.
The Beavers fell in an early 21-0 hole in that game before rallying to send it into overtime. With OSU having the ball last in the second OT, Riley decided to go for two and end it one way or the other. The timing was just off on the throw from Katz to Halahuni, who was defended tightly by UW linebacker Cort Dennison. Ultimately, the play made the difference in a 6-6 UW team going to a bowl and a 5-7 OSU team staying home.
"It's just the way the ball bounces sometimes," Katz said this week. "It was a tough loss — an exciting game, tough loss.
"It's hard to say (how that play might have made things turn out differently at Oregon State). Not just to look back on that play, you look back on different plays in that game that could have made a difference. Everyone remembers that last play, but you know it's in the past and you move on and I'm getting ready for Washington's defense this year."
The Aztecs are in something of a rebuilding mode on offense, having lost five starters, including Lindley and leading rusher Ronnie Hillman.
That'll put the pressure on the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Katz to quickly revert to the form he showed at the beginning of his OSU career, when some pegged him as potentially one of the best in the school's history.
Katz, though, says proving anything to anyone at Oregon State is the last thing on his mind now.
"I don't play to show anyone up or anything like that," he said. "I want to be the best quarterback as I can for San Diego State, and whatever comes with that, comes with that."
• Washington announced its five season captains. They are QB Keith Price, C Drew Schaefer, CB Desmond Trufant, S Sean Parker and LB John Timu.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org