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USC FOOTBALL

Trojans must keep Beavers' little guy from going long way

Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State's 5-foot-7 tailback, ran for 186 yards last year when Beavers upset USC at Corvallis. Containing him is Trojans' top priority Saturday at Coliseum.

October 24, 2009|Gary Klein

USC, seventh in the first Bowl Championship Series standings, resumes its Pacific 10 Conference schedule with its first home game in four weeks. Oregon State knows how to beat the Trojans -- see last season's upset victory -- but nearly half a century has passed since the Beavers did it at the Coliseum. Times staff writer Gary Klein looks at some of the game's key issues and matchups:

Quizz knows

Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers is no mystery to the Trojans, but that won't make it easier to contain him.

At 5 feet 7 (or shorter), Rodgers darted his way to 186 yards against USC last season, and had a career-best 189 in a victory over Stanford two weeks ago. He is averaging 116 yards rushing a game.

USC Coach Pete Carroll this week compared Rodgers with Emmitt Smith, Eric Dickerson and Barry Sanders.

"Those guys always knew how to set up the defense," Carroll said. "They'd make you defend the play and then they'd run somewhere else.

"This guy has that knack about him."

USC's defensive line, led by tackle Jurrell Casey, ranks fourth nationally against the run.

With so much attention focused on Rodgers, USC tailback Joe McKnight would like nothing more than to steal the spotlight after a relatively quiet performance against Notre Dame.

No player has rushed for as many as 100 yards against either team this season.

Arms race

The last time USC fans saw Matt Barkley at the Coliseum, play-caller Jeremy Bates was just beginning to give him some rope. The playbook is now wide open and Barkley, who passed for 380 yards last week against Notre Dame, is facing a defense that ranks 114th among 120 major colleges against the pass.

Oregon State's Sean Canfield has completed 68% of his passes, with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

The left-hander will be going against a USC defense that leads the nation in sacks. The Trojans have given up two touchdown passes, both against Notre Dame.

Catching up

Ronald Johnson will start for the first time this season, giving Barkley a deep threat.

He joins wide receiver Damian Williams and tight end Anthony McCoy, who both had outstanding performances against Notre Dame.

James Rodgers, Jacquizz's older brother, averages seven catches a game for Oregon State and has four touchdowns.

He and USC's Williams also return kicks. James Rodgers averages 180.2 all-purpose yards, Williams 114.2

Hold that line

USC is averaging 4.3 sacks and 9.3 tackles for loss per game.

Those numbers could grow against a young Beavers offensive line that has given up 19 sacks.

Oregon State has a recent tradition of physical defensive fronts, but the Beavers have only four sacks, fewest in the Pac-10.

Recovery mode

USC spent the week yelling "Ball! Ball!" during fumble-recovery drills after going 0 for 4 in that department against Notre Dame.

Not that Oregon State is prone to fumbling.

The Beavers have not lost a fumble this season. Jacquizz Rodgers has never lost a fumble in 454 career touches over 1 1/2 seasons.

USC is minus-two in turnover margin; Oregon State plus-two.

It's been a while

USC has not lost to Oregon State at the Coliseum since Sept. 16, 1960.

The Beavers won that season opener, 14-0, on the day after Carroll celebrated his ninth birthday.

USC leads the series against the Beavers, 58-10-4.

By the numbers

*--* (2009 averages) USC OSU 29.7 Scoring 28.8 16.7 Points given up 23.0 248.8 Passing offense 254.8 193.5 Rushing offense 132.5 442.3 Total offense 387.3 192.3 Passing defense 275.3 67.7 Rushing defense 97.7 260.0 Total defense 373.0 *--*

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gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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