The upbeat, outgoing James Rodgers has repeatedly evoked lines from "Remember the Titans" this week, wishing to remind people that he's hurt, not dead. According to his brother, star OSU running back Jaquizz Rodgers, Quon says that the worst part about it all is people feeling sorry for him.
That's leadership, folks, and it only adds to the stature of all that is James Rodgers. Not just an amazing player, but an amazing leader and human being. His impact will still be felt on that football field, and it can't be completely tackled, knocked out, hurt or lost. And we shouldn't feel sorry for James Rodgers. We should admire him. We should all be more like him.
Let's get to this week's Keys To The Game.
1 - Keep Jake Locker Bottled Up. There's one thing that has proved to be an absolute Achilles Heel for the Beaver defense this year -- the mobile quarterback. And this week Oregon State faces the Mother Of All Mobile Quarterbacks in Locker. One way that the Beavers can lose this game is by permitting Locker to simply put the team on his back and carry them. That simply can't happen if you're a Beav.
2 - Run The Dang Ball. The best defense is a good offense and a punishing, productive, pounding running game is the best way to keep Jake Locker's impact minimized. If the Beavers can drive and score with some level of consistency, it won't take many stops to win this game. If OSU has issues running, they'll put the ball in Locker's hands far too many times and bad things will happen. The good news? Jacquizz Rodgers appears to be a man on a serious mission this week, and the soft Husky defense is just what the doctor ordered.
3 - Win the Turnover Battle. This key is less about the Beavers being on the plus-side in turnover margin, and more about not turning the ball over and giving the game away. QB Ryan Katz finally threw an interception against Arizona but both before and after, he and the Beavers have done a spectacular job taking care of the ball. Now is not the time for the Beavers to have a bunch of freak turnovers, bad snaps or bobbled punt returns.
Reviewing Last Week's Keys:
1 - Help The DL Get Pressure. Three sacks don't happen without help from the secondary. Nick Foles threw the ball all over the yard but the Beavers got some pressure on the Arizona signal caller thanks to solid coverage from the secondary early and often – and that forced Foles to go to his second, third and even fourth options. Giving up 440 passing yards certainly means the secondary wasn't perfect, but a whole lot of that was short passing and then yards after the catch, and they ultimately did a good job in accomplishing this key in an above average way. Grade: B-
2 - Establish the Running Game Early. Arizona's defensive line was dominant. There were a few nice runs in there but mostly the Beavers had to persevere and rely on clutch plays from Ryan Katz to move the chains. The Wildcat defense is stout and there is no shame in not being able to come out and run the ball, especially when they key on taking it away. But the running game was there enough to keep the defense honest early, if not to produce. Most of Quizz' 83 yards were gained in the second half. Grade: C-
3 - Win on Third Down. The Beavers were 10/15 in converting third downs, while they were able to hold the Wildcats to a 6/11 conversion rate. That's a win, and it was a big one. And credit should go to Beavers QB Ryan Katz, who converted on a whopping four of those third downs with his feet. That's a dagger in the heart -- forget the Elwayesque arm strength on the TD to Markus Wheaton, the plays that most demoralized the Arizona defense? Those third down conversions. Grade: A.
Get well James. We don't feel sorry for you, we just love ya.
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