Oregon will get its first shot at slowing down Quizz

2009-12-02T00:20:00Z Oregon will get its first shot at slowing down QuizzBy Jesse Sowa, For the Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times
December 02, 2009 12:20 am  • 

EUGENE - The Oregon football team's defense has its own version of Jacquizz Rodgers to deal with in practice every day with LaMichael James.

So the seventh-ranked Ducks have at least somewhat of an idea of what it's going to be like Thursday night when Oregon State's Rodgers takes a handoff at Autzen Stadium.

The Ducks have only seen Rodgers on film because he didn't play in the 2008 Civil War due to injury.

But Oregon defensive end Will Tukuafu said Rodgers is like James in that both can "run full speed one way and change directions."

James is listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds and Rodgers at 5-7, 191.

Rodgers, last year's Pacific-10 Conference player of the year, is second in the conference in rushing at 119.4 yards per game. He's also second in receptions per game (6.09) and second in scoring with almost 11 points per contest.

No. 13 Oregon State (8-3, 6-2) has the sixth-best rushing offense in the conference at 149.7 yards per game. Oregon (9-2, 7-1) is fifth in rushing defense at 130.6.

Oregon coaches and defensive players had nothing but praise for Quizz.

"He's deceptively strong," Ducks coach Chip Kelly said. "You look at him, he's not a small back. He's very, very hard to knock off his feet. He's got great vision."

Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti sees speed and power.

"I think he's got unbelievable quickness," said Aliotti, in his 19th season with the Ducks.

"He can start and stop on a dime, and he's a lot more powerful for a smaller-statured guy than most people would think. He breaks tackles, he's got good vision, he runs hard."

Opposing defenses have talked about the difficulty of finding James and Rodgers behind offensive linemen who keep them out of sight.

"You really don't see them until they break the line of scrimmage and see them through a crease or something," Oregon free safety T.J. Ward said. "They're definitely hard to find."

By the time you find them it might be too late.

And Rodgers has the speed to find the end zone. He has run for 19 touchdowns this season and also caught one and thrown another.

"If you play blocking schemes the way you should, the ballcarrier should be somewhere," Tukuafu said of finding Rodgers behind the linemen.

"We've got to make sure we have all hats on the ballcarrier."

The Ducks know they have their collective hands full.

One of their biggest tests of the season is Thursday night with Jacquizz Rodgers.

"He's just a determined runner," Ward said. "He's strong, he's low to the ground. Good moves, he's fast, he's just a hard runner."

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