OSU NNQ: Youngsters stepping up

DOES JAMES RODGERS' production not mean that much to Oregon State after all? Hold that thought. He's still OSU's leading receiver, a threat as a runner on fly sweeps and reverses and one of the best return men in the country on both kickoffs and punts. It's just that the Beavers beat Arizona State, 31-28, without Rodgers on Oct. 2, and hardly appeared to miss him.

INSIDE SLANT

Does James Rodgers not mean that much to Oregon State after all?

Hold that thought. He's still OSU's leading receiver, a threat as a runner on fly sweeps and reverses and one of the best return men in the country on both kickoffs and punts. It's just that the Beavers beat Arizona State, 31-28, without Rodgers on Oct. 2, and hardly appeared to miss him.

"I don't want to play without James often," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "There's a lot of yards missing when James Rodgers doesn't play ... there's a lot of yards not out there when No. 8's not there."

But with Rodgers held out due to a concussion suffered the previous week, OSU did fine all of the areas where he stands out. Sophomore wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Jordan Bishop, with four catches each, both had their career highs for receiving yards. Senior Aaron Nichols matched his career high for yardage and scored his first career touchdown. Sophomore Geno Muniz even chipped in with his first college reception.

On returns, sophomore Jordan Poyer had a 47-yard kickoff return, his longest as a Beaver, and made a perfect lateral to Wheaton on a punt return reverse that Wheaton carried 52 yards to set up a touchdown.

How much more could Rodgers have done than all of that?

As OSU quarterback Ryan Katz put it: "It's definitely a blow not having (Rodgers) out there but a lot of guys rallied behind that and stepped up."

 

NOTES, QUOTES
  • The Beavers continue to draw well, somewhat surprising considering they're only 2-2 and haven't had some of the best opponents to lure fans to their home stadium. The crowd of 45,409 for the Arizona State game was the fourth-largest in the history of Reser Stadium, which comes after the Beavers had their largest crowd ever for a non-conference game against Louisville two weeks earlier. The best news for OSU is the home schedule ends with the two biggest draws for home games, USC and Oregon, which are sure sellouts.

  • Jacquizz Rodgers had the longest run of his collegiate career, a 74-yard sprint for a touchdown, as he rushed for 145 yards. He also had a 4-yard touchdown run that was almost as impressive, as he started to the left, reversed course and raced into the right corner of the end zone, "trying to make something out of nothing," as he put it. The two rushing touchdowns give him 38 for his career, which ties for third in OSU history.

  • The Beavers have now scored in the first quarter of every game this season. But the 74-yard touchdown run by Jacquizz Rodgers was the first time the Beavers have scored in a fourth quarter in four games.

  • OSU remains the only team in the FBS without a turnover. With six interceptions and two recovered fumbles, the Beavers are plus-8 on turnovers this season.

  • The win over Arizona State marked the first time since 2003 that the Beavers had won their Pac-10 opener.

 

GAME BALL GOES TO: Defensive tackle Stephen Paea — Paea had two quarterback sacks and was putting constant pressure on the passer as the Beavers totaled six sacks and came up with three interceptions. Paea was also in on four other tackles and batted down a pass.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Kick returner and wide receiver Markus Wheaton — His speed has long made the sophomore stand out, but after a career-best 48 receiving yards against Arizona State and a 52-yard punt return when he took a lateral from a teammate and reversed the field, Wheaton is showing he can put his physical abilities to good use.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I was really proud about how they competed and didn't let anything bother them, and they just played like crazy. They had to play as a team because they were missing some key people, so it was a great win." — OSU coach Mike Riley, on the Beavers missing their top tackler and leading receiver in win over Arizona State.

 

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

LOOKING GOOD: The OSU kickoff coverage unit easily had its biggest challenge of the season going against Arizona State, which was third in the country averaging 32.5 yards per return. In six kickoffs, the Sun Devils never came close to their average, with the longest return going 24 yards and the final average only 17.8 yards. The Beavers are loaded with speed, and they use it well on this unit. ASU returned half of its kickoffs for less than 20 yards.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Though the Beavers held Arizona State to a net rushing total of 161 yards, 45 yards under the average that OSU had been giving up, that total includes six quarterback sacks for a loss of 36 yards. Three ASU running backs had 181 net yards on 38 rushes, which doesn't bode well for an OSU defense that will play against much better running attacks in future games.

ROSTER REPORT:

  • Cameron Collins, a converted safety, made his first start at outside linebacker in the absence of leading OSU tackler Dwight Roberson (knee) and responded with 10 total tackles, one of them for lost yardage. In addition to being in the rotation at outside linebacker, Collins can also be used as a third safety when OSU plays its nickel defense in obvious passing downs.

  • The Beavers may have to consider their options at tight end, where Brady Camp had to leave the win over ASU with back spasms. Camp is the best blocker of the tight ends.

  • Two newcomers to the OSU defense continue to increase their value. True freshman Michael Doctor, on special teams and in the rotation at outside linebacker, was in on seven tackles against ASU. His speed makes him appear to be the latest in a line of players at the position for OSU who make up for a lack of size with their speed. At defensive end, junior college transfer Dominic Glover was in on eight tackles against ASU, including one of the sacks.

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