By Jon Gold
CORVALLIS, OR. –
UCLA knew Jacquizz Rodgers could run, and he ran.
The Bruins knew Jacquizz Rodgers could catch, and he caught.
They did not know Jacquizz Rodgers could pass.
Rodgers threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brady Camp with just more than a minute left in the first half, and Oregon State relied on Rodgers’ legs the rest of the way as the Beavers eked out the 26-19 win.
On 2nd-and-8 from the UCLA 14-yard line with 1 minute, 12 seconds left in the second quarter, Rodgers lined up at quarterback for the “WildBeaver” formation – Oregon State’s version of the Wildcat – and faked a handoff to a receiver in motion. The momentary pause froze the Bruins defense, and Rodgers found a wide-open Camp at the 2-yard line before he strolled into the end zone.
It was Rodgers’ first career pass.
“That has been in the lab for a while,” Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said. “It was another great-timed call by (offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf). Quizz told me a couple weeks ago that he was good up to 40 yards. We didn’t even need to have that arm today, but he threw a good ball, a nice, tight spiral.”
When Rodgers wasn’t throwing the ball, he was running it.
Rodgers had 112 yards rushing and 92 yards receiving, not so much bouncing off tacklers as deftly escaping their grasp. Rodgers had 75 yards on 13 carries in the first half and was not caught behind the line of scrimmage, displaying a downhill running style that has marked his maturation this season, as the diminutive back ranks second in the Pac-10 in rushing yards per game.
“I went against some backs like that when I was playing that were short fireplug guys, and they’re hard because they’re so strong,” UCLA defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said of the 5-foot-7 sophomore. “They’re not tall, lanky guys. A lot of times those guys are tough to get down. Sometimes in the holes you can’t see them. He’s a good back – he’s short, but he’s strong.”
So is his brother.
The “other” Rodgers brother, James – if there really is an “other” Rodgers brother – had 10 catches for 106 yards and added 28 yards on the ground, frequently running around the edge, as he did on his 17-yard, game-winning touchdown run.
“They’re very tough, being so low to the ground, having low centers of gravity,” UCLA cornerback Alterraun Verner said. “They’ve got very good balance; when you try to go up top, they’ll go under you and when you try to go out their legs, they’ve got very stronger lower bodies.”
But the Beavers were most impressed by Jacquizz’s arm, with the touchdown target Camp, exclaiming, “I can’t believe that actually worked.”
“We’d drawn that one up for quite a while in practice,” Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield said. “It was just a matter of (offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf) calling it. We went to it and it worked. The first time we ran it, Quiz was terrible at it, but he practiced it a few more times and was finally throwing some spirals.
“I told him are you trying to take my job, or what?”