A Designated Runner

One of the benefits of playing in BCS bowl games is the opportunity to face off with the nation's best players. Oregon, who has played in three consecutive BCS bowls, has faced big-time quarterbacks in each of those games and this year's Fiesta Bowl versus Kansas State will be no different.

EUGENE, Ore.,- Those three quarterbacks, Terrelle Pryor, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, all have one thing in common: They can run.

But, none of them rushed for more touchdowns or on a more consistent basis than this year's opposing quarterback Collin Klein. Klein has run for an astounding 49 touchdowns the past two seasons, and over 2000 yards.

According to Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, a large part of his success is due to an offense designed to utilize his running ability. Kelly says Kansas State uses more designed quarterback runs than any team they've faced, that includes the aforementioned Cam Newton, who went on to win the 2010 Heisman Trophy in larger part due to his rushing.

"Everything revolves around him," Kelly said Friday. "Even more than Terrelle and Cam, are the designed runs with them snapping the ball and him running."

Last season Klein ran the ball 317 times, 23 more than LaMichael James ever ran in a single season and 71 more carries than Kenjon Barner has thus far this season.

The Pac-12 has handful of athletic quarterbacks who use their legs to extend plays, but none of them are similar to the 6-foot-5 226-pound Klein.

"You may have a great scheme and have a guy on block and he may run them over. It's different than facing the Matt Scotts and Taylor Kellys of our league who our athletic and can move around," Kelly said.

"His aggression and the way he plays kind of reminds me of Cam Newton," defensive end Dion Jordan said.

In that National Championship game, the Ducks defense did its part in neutralizing the powerful Newton, holding him to just 64 yards rushing on 22 carries and keeping him out of the end zone, a feat only two SEC teams accomplished on the season.

"If somebody told us that we were going to hold them to 22 points, after watching film on that great player, who's also having success in the NFL, I would've signed my name and said ‘We'll take our chances'," defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said.

That will again be the Ducks' defense's challenge, stopping an offense that is largely facilitated through a single player. That may make the Wildcats sound one-dimensional, but they aren't. Klein is also an adept passer, throwing just seven interceptions on the season and posting the Big-12's third best passer rating.

But it all starts with his study legs.

"He's his own animal," said linebacker Michael Clay. "We have to be ready for what he does best which is run the ball."


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