Spring preview '07 - Running Backs

One of the top running backs in the nation, Yvenson Bernard, returns for his senior year as he looks to move up several lists in the OSU annuals. Clinton Polk, a year older and a year wiser, hopes to get more carries. Micah Strickland in the mix.

- Running Backs -


- The good -

There’s plenty to get excited about in 2007 as Oregon State returns All-American candidate and the Pac-10’s leading rusher Yvenson Bernard along with backup Clinton Polk, who was instrumental in the Beavers victory over No 3 USC.

Over the last two seasons Bernard’s statistics paint a intricate picture of consistency as he has logged over 1,300 rushing yards in each year while averaging 4.4 yards per carry, caught over 250 receiving yards in the last two seasons and scored over 12 touchdowns in each year.

His performance has jumped him into the top of the Orange and Black record books where he is the school’s third all-time career rusher (2,648) and third all-time rushing touchdown leader (25).

If he matches his average from the previous two years Bernard would finish as the school’s second all-time career rusher and bolster him into the Pac-10’s top 10 career rushers. This would give OSU two players in the top 10, making the Beavers and USC the only schools in the conference to have two players in the Pac-10’s career top 10.

What doesn’t show up in the box score are his key blocks – and he had plenty of them last year. His block on a blitzing linebacker at Washington gave Matt Moore an extra second to find Sammie Stroughter for an 80-yard touchdown, which, perhaps, turned around the game and the entire season.

Another quality that doesn’t show up in the newspapers or in the media guide is his leadership ability. He has a tremendous desire to win as he leads his team both vocally and by example. The 5-foot-9, 202-pound runner never goofs around in practice and has no problem calling out his teammates, especially his fellow running backs, if they start to lose focus.

When Bernard is healthy he is one of the top running backs in the country. Not only does he run, catch and block well, he does each of the three better as the game progresses. Take a look at the Sun Bowl for a perfect example of what kind of weapon Bernard can be when he is at 100-percent.

He punished the Missouri secondary in the fourth quarter, grinding out an extra yard or two, while making sure they knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant to bring him down. In the last two drives OSU ran 14 plays – Bernard was involved in nine, with four of them resulting in first downs and one resulting in a touchdown.

Backing up Bernard is Polk who appeared in nine games rushing 63 times (3.9 ypc) for 256 yards and one touchdown. He was slowed down in the second half of the year as he missed the last four games with an ankle injury he suffered against Arizona State.

Did you know?

The Beavers longest run from the line of scrimmage was Bernard’s 28-yard gain in the third quarter against Missouri in the Sun Bowl.

Polk showed he could play with the big boys as he started against USC running 22 times for 100 yards while catching three passes for 15 yards. He also did a nice job pass protecting and proved to Riley that he can be counted on. His performance last season will result in more carries for him and a healthier Bernard in 2007.

But, Micah Strickland is in the mix at tailback after impressing the coaches at tail back during bowl game practices.  He is tough, north/south runner with powerful legs, but must work on his blocking if he wants more playing time.

Gone is Patrick Fuller, who had all of the athletic talent in the world, but not the commitment to practice or to school that is required of a Pac-10 player. Hopefully Fuller can land on his feet at another school.

Taking Fuller’s place on the depth chart is the hard working and likable Tony Carrasco, who played in just three games, but made the most of his opportunities running 12 times for 45 yards and one hard fought touchdown against Arizona State.

Carrasco doesn’t have the physical tools to be an every down back in the Conference of Champions, but he gives it his all whatever he does, and you have to like his attitude.

Riley toyed with the fullback at several times throughout the season using Strickland and Andy Stewart, but moved away from using them late in the year. Riley has stated that he is not going to use a fullback as much and will stick with an H-back.


- The bad -

Depth is an issue if Bernard and Polk get injured. Riley said before the start of 2006 that he would like to give the ball less to Bernard and let him rest more, but Bernard carried the ball just three times less in 2006 than 2005. As a result, Bernard was banged up, again, midway through the year.


- The question -

Can Bernard stay healthy his entire senior year?


- Riley says -

“Yvenson has really been the heart and sole of the offense over the last two seasons. We have been able to do a lot of things because of his ability as a runner, receiver and his overlooked blocking. He is one of the best players I have ever coached.”


- BF.com says -

Bernard is healthier this year than last year, but Riley will still install a no hit rule for Bernard - there is no need for his star player to get hurt by his teammates. This means that he will most likely sit out the spring game too.  Polk and Strickland will get the majority of the carries as they compete for the backup position.  Whoever blocks better will get the backup role.

- Keep your eye on -

Clinton Polk. He will receive the bulk of the carries as Bernard takes it easy. Improving his blocking and his patience as he waits for the offensive line to get up field and block will be his focuses.


- The roster -

Running Back

  • SR Yvenson Bernard (5-9, 202) – one of the top running backs in the country…excellent between the tackles…the total package – can run, pass and block…dark horse Heisman candidate…durable…one of the leaders of the team.

  • Did you know?

    OSU was 6-0 when Bernard rushed for 100-plus yards.
    SR Clinton Polk (6-2, 205) – prefers to stay outside the tackles...has long strides…decent hands and blocking ability…with a year of Pac-10 ball under his belt, he should see more carries.

  • SO Micah Strickland (6-0, 210, H-back) – played fullback early in 2006 before Riley eschewed using the position…tough runner who doesn’t mind banging heads…soft hands...needs to improving his blocking.
  • SO Tony Carrasco (5-7, 191) – likable walk-on who gives 110-percent each play.


  • SR Andy Stewart (5-11, 229, H-back) – hard working walk-on who will compete for playing time at H-back.

  • SO Micah Strickland (6-0, 210, H-back) – played fullback early in 2006 before Riley eschewed using the position…tough runner who doesn’t mind banging heads…soft hands...needs to improving his blocking.

  • JR Dan Weis (6-2, 239, H-back) – a converted tight end who will compete for playing time at H-back.

- Running Backs -

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