Rodgers expected back as Beavers regroup

Oregon State has been here before, with discouraging losses to open a season. Yet the team has reason to be optimistic.

First, the Beavers have a history of overcoming slow starts, and second, James Rodgers should be fine for Saturday's game against Arizona State.

Rodgers suffered a concussion in Oregon State's 37-24 loss last Saturday at Boise State. Coach Mike Riley said Rodgers will be held out of practice this week, following the NCAA protocol for dealing with concussions, but he should be able to play against the Sun Devils.

Rodgers, who is averaging 184.3 all-purpose yards a game, is one of Oregon State's top playmakers as the team embarks on the Pac-10 season.

The Beavers emerged from the preseason at 1-2, with losses to No. 5 TCU and No. 3 Boise State. They beat Louisville 35-28 at home in between.

Oregon State hasn't had a winning record in September for seven straight seasons. However, they are 37-14 from October to December since 2004 — and in five of six of those years the team earned a bowl berth.

The Beavers were 2-2 last year when they visited Arizona State on Oct. 3 and came away with a 28-17 victory. They won six of the next seven games to set up the Civil War against Oregon for the Pac-10 championship and a Rose Bowl berth, which the Ducks claimed.

"They seem to get better as the year goes along," said Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson, who coached at Oregon State from 1999-02. "They seem to get to this point and then go on a roll."

While Riley said Tuesday that he hopes Oregon State has been strengthened by the level of competition in a brutal nonconference schedule, the team cannot rely on history to tilt the balance to the win column.

"You know from experience and your knowledge from the past that it can be done. But it is certainly not given to you by right of passage. You have to earn it," Riley said. "Those teams persevered. They recognized where they need to go, what they needed to do to get better, and they did, so the team got better.

"But we've got a ton of things we've got to get better on ... and nobody can make the assumption that just because those teams did that, that this team's automatically going to be given the passage to do it. We've got to prove it."

Oregon State, ranked No. 24 last week, fell out of the Top 25 after last weekend's loss to the Broncos.

Rodgers, a senior flanker and the older brother of running back Jacquizz Rodgers, has been consistent for the Beavers despite the tough nonconference foes. But he was injured early in the third quarter against Boise State.

Rodgers was blocking on a scramble by quarterback Ryan Katz when he collided helmet-to-helmet with Boise State safety Winston Venable. Rodgers immediately fell to the turf as trainers from both teams rushed the field.

He was prone on the 45 yard line for a few minutes before being helped up by Jacquizz. It was said that he paced the sidelines afterward in search of his helmet, which the trainers took away.

James Rodgers returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Despite the injury, Rodgers is ranked fifth in the nation for all-purpose yard average so far this season. He surpassed leader Ken Simonton on Oregon State's career all-purpose yards list with 5,630.

The Western Athletic Conference was reviewing Venable's hit on Rodgers. Boise State coach Chris Petersen said simply that Venable was "running hard," and the hit occurred.

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