Searching for a starting Beaver RB

CAN THE BEAVS get it done this spring and in fall camp? Can Oregon State get back to a vaunted running attack that paves the way to 10-win seasons and Top 25 finishes? An incoming OSU signee sure thinks so.

After Quizz Rodgers left early for the NFL, Oregon State's 2011 spring drills and fall camp were both filled with unresolved issues. The words, "running back by committee" were used over and over, and the word from Mike Riley was that not having that "one guy" could end up being a positive.

It wasn't. It instead meant what usually happens when the committee approach is used – that no one running back had emerged because none were capable of making a splash, that none were able to lead a stout Beaver rushing attack in Pac-12 play.

Incoming RB Chris Brown believes he's the guy, and that's the kind of attitude you want. The Portland Tribune mentioned he recently tweeted that his goal wasn't to start as a true freshman. It was to rush for 2,000 yards for the Beavers this season.

If he rushes for just half that, he'll more than double the high of any Oregon State running back in 2011.

THERE'S A LOT more to the running game that just the running back, of course. The blocking needs to improve from where it has been the past two seasons.

But a running back like Quizz or Bernard, they also made yards on their own. They had that one move that could spring them for an extra 10 yards or more.

And that's what's been missing.

OSU WASN'T THE only school who thought Brown capable of being a difference maker. He chose the Beavers over 15-plus offers, including one from rival Oregon.

But Brown, who ran for 1,951 yards and 28 touchdowns his senior year, won't get here until this summer. This spring, each player in the existing group has one last chance to try and show they are the man.

Four running backs started last season – Malcolm Agnew, Jordan Jenkins, Jovan Stevenson and Terron Ward. There's also redshirt freshman Storm Woods, who had a lot of buzz around him as the potential starter last year before the decision was made to redshirt him.

Riley has emphasized this past season the Beavers will rededicate themselves to getting back to being a strong running game. That will in turn open up the passing game. And that should mean getting back to more wins and bowl games. But it's one thing to talk about it, it's another to go out and do it.

Laying the foundation starts this spring, with practices set to begin in about a month and a half in Corvallis.

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