Jacquizz Rodgers is a rare running back. It is too much of a stretch to predict his departure won't hurt.
But that doesn't mean the offense as a whole absolutely positively can't be better. It may sound strange, that losing one of the best running backs in program history won't mean a backwards step. OSU relied a lot on Quizz, at times the debate in 2008 and 2009 was if the Beavs were asking him to do too much. They don't have that luxury anymore.
If OSU is to take strides as an offense post-Quizz, it will require two things – some retooling on offense, and for others to step up their game.
Oregon State may look to pass rather than run in certain situations. And we're not necessarily talking about the deep ball here.
Short passes. Bubble screens. Quick slants. High percentage stuff where the pass catcher creates after the grab. When you hear TV and radio broadcasters say of a ball thrown, ‘That's just like a run,' those are the kinds of things OSU needs to drill, over and over, until the offense can execute them with aplomb.
OKAY, BUT SOMEONE has to carry the rock all those other times. Someone has to get the tough yards. Someone has to break some of those runs that capture momentum and win ballgames.
Jordan Jenkins and Ryan McCants will probably get the first looks at replacing Quizz. They're different types of backs than Quizz, but then again who isn't.
And their potential success is tied to the offensive line's, who had a subpar year by Beaver standards this past season.
All but one of the starting o-line (Alex Linnenkohl) returns in 2011. They'll be a year older, a year stronger and hopefully for Beaver Nation, a year better.
They'll need to be. Over his career, Quizz manufactured a good number of yards on his own once he got through the box. The problem in '10 was Quizz didn't get to the box often enough. Jenkins and McCants will need more of those lanes that didn't open last year.
Jovan Stevenson is the wildcard. He needs to get bigger to withstand the pounding if he is to be an every down type of back – he was listed at 5-11, 186 pounds last season. On the plus side, he's deceptively quick and he has good hands.
And Stevenson appears to have game breaking potential. Then again, Quizz has carried the ball virtually all of the last three seasons, so it's hard to say what the ceiling is on any of the three.
It figures to be a wide open position battle this spring and on into fall camp. Malcolm Marable has a world of speed, a productive offseason could put him in the mix, too.
And running back isn't like most other positions – a true freshman can claim a starting role right out of the gate, although he has to be a special type of player.
Is Storm Woods or Malcolm Agnew, two verbal commits who would sign with OSU on Feb. 2, that type of player? Fall camp will begin to answer those questions.
And is there a running back commit, prep or junior college, still to come? We'll see.
OSU could also look to ride the strong arm of Ryan Katz even more than before. And it's not like the Beavs don't have a variety of weapons in the receiving department, including tight end Joe Halahuni.
It's tough to see Quizz leave early. But in some ways, spring ball, Signing Day and fall camp just got a whole lot more interesting.
Although Quizz is leaving, James Rodgers is not. An all-purpose yardage machine before his injury, the Beavs will need him to return as close to his previous form as is possible the season after a major knee injury. Quon will sit out the spring, but should be fully ready to go by fall camp. If OSU can recapture some of their earlier fly sweep magic, or if the Beavs find other ways to utilize him in the running game, everyone else's job gets that much easier.
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