Built Beaver tough: 25-30 style

THE OREGON STATE offensive attack relies heavily on a sturdy, tough running back that can carry the ball around 30 times a game. With Jacquizz Rodgers coming off of a shoulder injury in which he missed the final seven quarters of the 2008 regular season, plus the bowl game, some fans wonder if his durability might be in question. But coach Mike Riley is throwing cold water on that one.

And Riley made it plain, he envisions giving Quizz in '09 upwards of 30 carries a game.

"(Quizz is) healthy and ready to go, and we have a really good sense that that is a fact, and (as) we find that out during fall camp, then he'll carry the ball 25-30 times a game," said Riley.

The coaching staff sought out several different doctors in the offseason just to make sure his shoulder was fully healed.  All of the doctors agreed -- Quizz's shoulder is completely healed. But just as a precaution, they still kept him out of spring contact drills. 

Despite his production last season - a Pac-10 freshman record 1,253 yards and 11 touchdowns on 259 carries - his durability is coming into question and it's really due to one thing -- his size. You generally just don't hear the same kinds of questions on a back who missed the final two games but who stands 6-3 and 230 pounds.

Riley, as he did all of last year, says that those that doubt his constancy because of a lack of height just need to think of his stature in another manner.

"He's not small," said Riley.  "just short, and very strong."

THE 56-YEAR OLD RILEY has had plenty of experience, and success, with running backs similar to Rodgers' size in the past.  Consider Ken Simonton (1998-2001) at 5-foot-9, 205-pounds, and then Yvenson Bernard (2004-2007) at 5-foot-9, 203-pounds.

Riley didn't shy away from giving Simonton and Bernard the rock early and often, and they excelled late, both in-game and in-season, and he won't hesitate to give it to Quizz either.

All three running backs are small in stature, but were, and are, more than capable of carrying the offensive load.  Simonton is the school's all-time career leading rusher (5,044) while Bernard is second all-time (3,682). 

And Quizz served notice last season he could very well end up one of the all time running back greats in Orange and Black.

"They were all durable and guys that got better as the game went on," Riley said.  "We like to have them carry the ball 25-30 times a game - that is part of what we want to do."

WITH THAT BEING said, Riley would still love to find a solid, productive backup who can give Quizz a rest.  More rest decreases the chances of any running back becoming rundown and susceptible to injury late in the year.

Both Simonton and, even more so with Bernard, had various nagging injuries throughout their careers -- a part of the game that is unavoidable, but can be mitigated.

Bernard looked for contact more than Simonton did or Rodgers does, but paid the price late in his career.

The lack of any solid backups early in his career resulted in Bernard hauling the pigskin a whopping 592 times over the course of his sophomore and junior campaigns (2005, 2006). 

Despite missing two games in 2007 due to injury Bernard had the advantage of James Rodgers taking some of the heat and hits off of him as Rodgers rushed for just under 500 yards on 50 carries.  Backup running backs Matt Sieverson and Clinton Polk also chipped in with a combined 531 yards on 119 carries.

Besides Polk's 187 yards in 2006 no other player besides Bernard rushed for 100 or more yards in '05 or '06.  Bernard was the running game those years and his body paid the price.

Simonton had a shiftier running style than Bernard which translated into less direct hits.  But Simonton also had solid backups during his career which equaled less carries and less wear and tear on his body.

IN 2001, Steven Jackson carried the ball 74 times for 390 yards while Patrick McCall turned in 203 yards on 54 carries.  The Beavers in 2000 had a three headed monster in Simonton, McCall and Antonio Battle.  McCall tallied 658 yards on 129 carries and Battle 178 on 47 snaps.

And if such present day production emerges, Riley said he won't hesitate to use it.

"If we can find a guy and that can go in and play - spell Quizz and take some of that load off of him - we certainly will do that to the benefit of our team," Riley said.

As BF.C readers became aware of this spring and offseason, a pair of freshman are being looked at to give Rodgers periodic rest.   Jovan Stevenson had a fine showing in the spring, but might not have the build yet to take a beating all season long.  Ashton Jefferson dominated in high school, but has yet to take his first collegiate practice snap.  And Jefferson will have to be pretty far along for the coaches to burn his redshirt year.

Incumbent Ryan McCants is coming off of knee surgery and best estimates have him back in the middle of fall camp, but probably not ready for the season opener.

The good news is James Rodgers (collarbone) is back after rushing for 408 yards a year ago. But ideally, the Beavs would probably benefit most from that tough, dependable player who will stick his nose in between the offensive linemen for the difficult one to three yard gains.

ONE PLAYER THAT may fit the mold is fullback Will Darkins.  Instead of handing the ball to Quizz in short yardage situations, Darkins could handle the dirty work, and the beatings, which would keep Quizz fresher and perhaps, healthier.

Whatever the coaches decide one thing is for certain - Quizz will get plenty of  carries.

And hopefully few bruises.


OSU Rushers

Name Carries Yards TDs
Jacquizz Rodgers 259 1253 11
James Rodgers 46 408 5
Ryan McCants 85 337 2
Yvenson Bernard 275 1214 13
James Rodgers 50 586 3
Matt Sieverson 85 344 2
Yvenson Bernard 296 1307 12
Clinton Polk 63 248 1
Ruben Jackson 10 95 0
Yvenson Bernard 299 1321 13
Dwight Wright 10 45 0
Jimtavis Walker 15 44 0
Ken Simonton 239 971 8
Steven Jackson 74 390 5
Patrick McCall 54 203 1
Ken Simonton 284 1559 19
Patrick McCall 129 658 7
Antonio Battle 47 178 1
Ken Simonton 294 1486 19
Antonio Battle 50 211 2
Eric Mobley 19 79 0
Ken Simonton 224 1028 13
Jason Dandridge 55 277 4
Greg Ainsworth 4 30 0

BeaverBlitz Top Stories