Sun Devils look to halt losing streak against Beavers

In college football, losses can pile up in a hurry, and before you know it, your season can be over.

That has happened in each of the last two years for ASU (2-2, 0-1 Pac-10). On the flip side, a big win can set a team off on a roll.

That is the predicament that the Sun Devils find themselves in. They have shown the talent necessary to be a good football team, now it is all about winning football games.

Making the situation even tougher, Saturday marks the first game of a three-game road trip, which is almost unheard of.

Their opponent is equally as desperate. Oregon State played a rigorous non-conference schedule and enters Pac-10 play with a 1-2 record.

State Press Television By Andrew Boven

“This is a huge game for both football teams,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. “We have to find a way to win the football game and that’s the bottom line. Once you start winning games, it becomes contagious.”

Like the Sun Devils, OSU has lost two tough games, falling to No. 6 Texas Christian in Dallas and on the road against No. 3 Boise State.

“Their non-league schedule was tough,” Erickson said. “They had a chance to win both football games, though, and they are a quality football team. They were picked very high by everyone going into the season and I don’t see why they still shouldn’t be.”

OSU’s offense revolves around a pair of talented brothers. Junior running back Jacquizz Rodgers and senior wide receiver James Rodgers account for 277.6 total yards per game.

“They have a lot of experience back and any time you have the Rodgers brothers, you have a chance,” Erickson said. “They make so many plays and they’re exceptional football players. Jacquizz Rodgers is so strong and quick, and he can break it any time. James Rodgers got hurt but I know he is going to play.”

Jacquizz Rodgers is only averaging 84.3 yards per game on the ground in 2010, down from 110.8 yards rushing per game in 2009.

Part of the downfall could be credited to inexperience at the quarterback position, leading teams to key in on Rodgers.

Sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz has only completed 46.8 percent of his passes. While accuracy has been an issue, Katz hasn’t thrown an interception and has all the physical tools to be a good player in time.

“Their quarterback Ryan Katz is a guy we tried to recruit and he is very talented,” Erickson said. “He makes some throws that are very difficult to make, but like [ASU junior quarterback] Steven Threet, he is learning and experience only comes from games.”

James Rodgers is the only Beaver that has more than 100 yards receiving this season, but he is just as dangerous in the return game and has haunted the Sun Devils his entire career.

"It seems like they've been there 100 years," Erickson said of the Rodgers brothers. "I don't know when they're going to graduate. Soon, I hope."

While the Beavers are a tough opponent, especially on the road, ASU also will be focusing on cleaning up the mistakes that cost them the past two weeks.

Under coach Mike Riley, the Beavers have been traditional slow starters. Last season, OSU came into Sun Devil Stadium with a 2-2 record, while ASU was 2-1.

The Beavers finished the season 6-2, while ASU won just two games the rest of the way.

Like last season, this is a critical game and could very much set the tone for the rest of the season again.

“We can’t wait to get back on the field on Saturday,” Threet said. “We worked hard this week in practice and are ready to get back at it. We have to execute better and eliminate mistakes.”

Notes

ASU left tackle Dan Knapp’s status for Saturday’s game is still up in the air.

“I would say that will be the old game time decision type of thing,” Erickson said Thursday. “We’ll see how he is. My thought now would be to play him (only) if there is an injury out there.”

Erickson also confirmed that freshman running back Deantre Lewis will get the start on Saturday. Just because Lewis will start, Erickson indicated, doesn’t mean sophomore Cameron Marshall will lose many carries.

Reach the reporter at andrew.gruman@asu.edu


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