Simulating Jacquizz Rodgers

Jacquizz Rodgers was considered one of the biggest-impact freshmen in the history of Oregon State University's program, and was the first freshman to be named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. Now a sophomore, Rodgers was selected to the Pac-10 First-Team after having rushed for 1,377 yards and a school-record 20 touchdowns.

Stopping the ever-quick and shifty Jacquizz Rodgers will be a daunting task for the Cougar defense. A Second-Team All-American selection by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Rodgers is considered one of the best underclassmen running backs in the country. The task of preparing the Cougar defense for the speed and quickness of Rodgers has fallen upon the shoulders of 5-foot-8-inch, 173-pound walk-on J.D. Falslev, who may just have become one of the more important players on the scout team.

"[Rodgers] is an awesome player," said Falslev. "We've studied him for a little over a week now and he's definitely one of the best running backs in the nation. I think our defense will be ready. They watch film every single day and just pound on the film. The coaches are going to have them ready for sure, but playing the role of Rodgers has been fun. I played the role of Jeremy [Kerley] from TCU earlier this year also. It's fun playing these key roles to try and help our defense."

"I think [Falslev's] going to be a guy that helps this team down the road and will be a Nate Meikle-type guy who is really quick on his feet," said Max Hall. "You know, it's hard to prepare for a guy like [Rodgers]. He's such a great player and I think J.D. will do a good job playing him on the scout team. Ultimately our defense is going to have to stop Rodgers."

Falslev enjoys taking on the mantle of a role player. He knows his team is counting on him to give them the best possible look for their preparation.

"It's fun being a key guy on the scout team trying to help your defense prepare for a specific player," said Falslev. "You have to come in every day and work your hardest, and our scout team coaches demand that out of us every practice. It's a lot of fun."

So how would Falslev describe his style of play? Doing his best to be humble, he relented a little and talked about his abilities as a football player.

"Well, yeah, if I can get out into the open field that's where I feel I'm best," he said. "We'll see where I'm at next year and where they want to put me, but I would probably say I'm pretty similar to [Rodgers]."

Hall was a little more forthcoming when describing Falslev's attributes.

He said Falslev has good feet, adding, "I think he's quick and can find the holes and cracks and get through the offensive line quickly like Rodgers, so I think he's the perfect guy."

"No, I'm not that fast, I'm really not," said a humble Falslev. "I'm undersized and I think it's just mostly from working hard that [what Rodgers] does is easy to emulate. I think Rodgers is quick but he's also a power runner, which I still have to work on a lot. He's just so shifty and one of the shiftiest players in the country for sure."

Defensive end Jan Jorgensen will be among those assigned to the task of stopping Oregon State's shifty running back. Like Hall, Jorgensen feels that Falslev has been chosen because he has similar skills.

"J.D. has done a great job and I don't think you could ask for a better impersonator than J.D.," said Jorgensen. "They're about the same size and he's probably close to as quick. I wouldn't say he's as quick or strong because he's a little young, being a freshman, but he's a little guy and he's quick and shifty.

"He's done a great job for us thus far and I'm sure he'll continue to do a great job for us this week. We've kind of beat him up a little bit and we've kind of taken it to him just because we know that's the guy we have to stop. I'm sure he gets a little frustrated with that, but he's done a great job in helping us prepare for Rodgers."

Preparing for the elusiveness of Rodgers starts up front. The defensive line will have their hands full knowing that all Rodgers needs is a small seam to be successful. The Cougar's scout team offensive line has made a great emphasis in mimicking the style of play found at Oregon State.

"One thing we've had to stress this week is our o-line," Falslev said. "Oregon State's o-line is very similar to Florida State's. They're really fast and may not be the most physical guys but they'll get on you, and that's all it takes with a guy like Rodgers to get past you. All it takes is one guy to get on you and he'll blow right past you. That's one thing we've really stressed this week and I think we've done a really good job at that."

Back when Falslev was a sophomore football player for Sky View High School, he basically did it all for the Bobcats. He ran the ball and averaged 5.7 yards per carry while rushing for 774 yards and six touchdowns on the season. However, his biggest exploits came from fielding punt returns when he averaged 41.5 yards per return. As a senior he averaged 34.27 yards per return and racked up 377 punt return yards. He also averaged 34.63 yards per kickoff return and had a total of 277 yards in kickoff returns.

"I think I was one or two touchdowns away from becoming the record-holder for the most touchdowns scored on punt returns," said Falslev. "I remember me and my best friend Braden Compton, who just finished up at Snow J.C., were number one and number two. I was number one, I guess I'll go ahead and say it, but he should have been for punt and kick returns."

Much like in high school, Falslev is being asked by his coaches to take on many responsibilities. Aside from being a receiver and a vital member of the scout team, Falslev is also handling kick returns on the scout team.

"I'm getting into that and getting used to the speed and everything that comes along with doing punt or kick returns," he said. "It's a whole different ball game doing that in college than in high school. In high school there are a lot of good athletes on special teams, but every single kid on the field isn't the top athlete in the state. Now you see some of the best players on the team on the field, and so it makes it a whole different ball game with the speed and the size that's on the field."

With the impending graduation of two outstanding tight ends in Dennis Pitta and Andrew George, the Cougar offense could evolve to more of a spread offense next year. The reemergence of the slot receiver position is a real possibility, and Falslev, along with Stephen Covey, could be the go0to guys to play the position.

"Well, Nate Meikle was here and they've talked a lot about doing what he did and stuff like that," Falslev said. "We'll kind of see what the year brings I guess. Right now I'm outside receiver and playing running back on the scout team and I'm okay with that, but I'll go wherever the coaches tell me to go."

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