With Francis gone OSU needs McCants to emerge

NOW THAT IT'S been determined that Jeremy Francis will not return to Corvallis, instead staying home in Florida to take care of his mother, Oregon State needs Ryan McCants to step up more than ever before.

Jacquizz Rodgers is the starting running back at Oregon State. And he runs with power. But Oregon State also doesn't want to overuse him.

And there are things that you get from a big running back in the blocking department that are integral in an offense's success.

Jeremy Francis' emergence in the final few games of this past season, mostly as a receiving threat and blocker, was a welcome tonic. But he's now gone according to Mike Riley. It's time for Ryan McCants, a punishing running back, to run with authority and make a leap upwards.

It's also critical that McCants earns the complete trust of the coaches because the Beavs will at times need to keep that running back home in max protect and that's where McCants, at 6-1, 240 pounds, can shine as well.

Jovan Stevenson showed off some quick moves on the first day of spring, and his OSU future looks bright. But he is generously listed at 5-11 and 195 pounds so he's not that big back option coming out of the backfield to complement Quizz.

That's where McCants needs to make his mark.

When he ran with authority this past season, he looked very good. The problem was that those kinds of carries were too few, there were just as many where he appeared tentative in searching for the hole rather than blasting through it. Fumbles were also an ongoing concern.

Still, McCants was but a redshirt freshman last season -- something that doesn't get enough notice. The largest improvement is often seen between the first and second years for many players, as they adapt to the game speed of the college game and become more comfortable and adept within their own scheme.

The guess here is that McCants is ready to blossom this season. Quizz is the clear No. 1, there's no question on that after what he did as a true freshman last season. But McCants can also play a huge role with the Beavs in '09. And there's no time like the present to begin.

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