Citizen Staff Photographer
ARIZONA WILDCATS FOOTBALL
Oregon State’s James Rodgers lined up as a wide receiver, but ended as the Beavers’ top rusher with sweeps Arizona couldn’t stop.
The brother of star freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers, he ended up with a career-high 10 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown despite not lining up in the backfield.
“Those are tough adjustments on your secondary to constantly be moving around and shifting,” UA coach Mike Stoops said. “You blitz and then you have to adjust to another guy. It is a little more complicated (to stop) than what meets the eye. There are a lot of people moving. One guy can change a lot in your defense.”
Rodgers was Oregon State’s best option until the final minutes when the Beavers exploited the Wildcat secondary with passes.
The Beavers have used Rodgers before on end-around and reverses, but not to the extent they did Saturday.
“It was not confusing at all,” UA linebacker Ronnie Palmer said. “We just needed to execute the defense like we needed to. There were a series or two we . . . got a little rattled and we didn’t communicate.”
Rodgers had eight of those carries for seven yards or more per run.
Arizona often gives the ball to receiver Mike Thomas on similar plays. He had only 15 yards on five rushes Saturday.
Riley takes risks
Oregon State coach Mike Riley is certainly a gambling man.
He gambled a possible trip to the Rose Bowl by going for it on a pair of fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter with the game tied.
The Beavers converted a fourth-and-1 at the Oregon State 40-yard line, but missed soon after when Riley went for it on fourth-and-1 1/2 at the UA 49.
Backup tailback Ryan McCants was stuffed before getting to the line of scrimmage on the play, which gave the ball back to UA at midfield.
The Wildcats soon scored on a 9-yard run by Keola Antolin for a 17-10 lead with 8:26 left.
“I shouldn’t have (gone) on the second one. It was a little too far,” Riley told The Oregonian. “I didn’t like the momentum they had offensively at the time. I really thought we were doing OK with the short yardage stuff. I obviously was wrong.”
The move surprised Stoops.
“I was hoping if we could get a stop we could get a short field,” Stoops said. “They were tough to move the ball on all night. We took advantage of the short field.”
Riley escaped a lot of possible criticism by Beavers fans by getting the comeback win.
‘Quizz’ goes out
The Wildcats focused all week on stopping running back Jacquizz Rodgers, one of the premier freshmen in the country.
He lasted only half of a quarter after Devin Ross plowed the 1,200-yard rusher to the ground on a swing pass.
Rodgers, who might miss the Beavers’ game against Oregon this week, finished with 20 yards on four carries. McCants, who replaced him, had 52 yards on 15 carries.
“That was to our benefit,” Palmer said. “Once we hit him hard and he was out of the game, the other guy was not nearly as quick. He was a little more physical, but not nearly as quick. We were able to isolate ourselves on him more.”