SEATTLE – Jacquizz Rodgers fits the mold of the many successful running backs in Oregon State’s recent past. He’s quick, short, shifty and most important, hard to see in a crowd.
As if being 0-5 isn’t hard enough for Washington to handle, now the Huskies’ defense has the tough task of just trying to find Rodgers, let alone stop him.
“We’re going to have to look for him,” Washington defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim said. “That’ll teach you to stay in your gap. If everyone is in their gap, he’ll run into one of us.”
Even when Rodgers has run into defenders this season, that has rarely meant he’s going to the ground. Only a freshman, the 5-foot-7 Rodgers has posted four straight 100-yard games heading into today’s matchup at Husky Stadium. Rodgers could become the first Beavers back with five consecutive performances better than the century mark for the first time since Steven Jackson did it as a senior in 2003.
More important, another 100-yard game from Rodgers might finally get the Beavers a win away from Corvallis that has proved about as elusive as Rodgers through the first half of the season. It would also be the Beavers’ fifth consecutive win over the Huskies, something Oregon State has never accomplished.
“We’ve got to break through that barrier with this team. We’ve got to start now,” Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. “When you get to that midway point you’re really going to start forming that identity of who the team is going to be, what they’re going to be remembered for and a time to really establish that identity. In order to, you’ve got to win road games.”
Again, the Beavers (3-3, 2-1 Pac-10) seem to be finding their form at midseason.
After starting 0-2, Oregon State has won three of four, including a shocking upset of No. 1 USC on Sept. 25. The victory over the Trojans was the night that Rodgers became a household name with his 186 yards and two touchdowns on national TV.
Last week against lowly Washington State, Rodgers had another strong day, with 168 yards and a touchdown. Every Oregon State player who had a carry against the Cougars scored a touchdown in the 66-13 romp.
Oregon State’s offense shouldn’t have much problem with a Washington (0-3 Pac-10) defense that’s on pace to be the worst in school history. The Huskies have held just one team to less than 240 yards rushing this season and are giving up an average of 495 total yards per game.