Rodgers brothers will be top priority for UNLV defense

Diminutive duo sets the tone for Beavers, could present a problem for Rebels

Game Preview: Oregon State

Las Vegas Sun UNLV football beat writer Ryan Greene, along with UNLV coaches and players, share the biggest news and notes from the Rebels' week leading into their game against Oregon State.

September 10: UNLV News and Notes

Las Vegas Sun's Ryan Greene breaks down the key points from the Rebels' 38-3 win over Sacramento State.

Click to enlarge photo

Brothers Jacquizz Rodgers, right, and James Rodgers watch from the sidelines during the second half of their 34-7 victory over Portland State in Corvallis, Ore., on Saturday. Both did equal amounts of damage, and both will deserve equal attention when they come to face UNLV on Saturday at 8 p.m.

The Rebel Room

Rebels, Beavers meet in key non-con grudge match

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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss Saturday's showdown between UNLV and Oregon State. Both are coming off of sound victories over FCS foes. The Rebels' biggest challenge will be shutting down OSU sophomore running back Jacquizz Rodgers, while the Beavers are trying to combat a shaky past against non-conference opponents away from home. Plus, the fellas offer up some predictions — Vegas style.

What others are saying

Read what other writers are saying about UNLV's upcoming game against Oregon State:

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Next game

  • Opponent: Oregon State
  • Date: Sept. 12, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
  • TV: CBS College Sports
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM
  • The Line: Oregon State by 7
  • Series History: UNLV leads 3-1
  • Last Meeting: Oct. 14, 2002 — Oregon State won, 47-17

While the UNLV defense looked healthier and faster last Saturday than it did during most of the 2008 season, one nagging problem from last fall's 5-7 campaign still stood out in the game film.

Missed tackles. Lots of 'em.

"It was mainly wrapping up," sophomore safety Chris Jones said. "Everybody was getting to the ball. We've just got to wrap them up and get them on the floor so we can get to the next play. I'm not gonna say it was a good thing that we had that weak point, but I think it'll really help us out for this week."

The Rebels need it to help them in the worst way come Saturday night, when they face off with No. 24 Oregon State at Sam Boyd Stadium. Especially because the Beavers have two shifty skill players who can exploit those fundamental lapses better than just about anyone in the country.

And they happen to be brothers.

Junior receiver James Rodgers and sophomore running back Jacquizz Rodgers have made even the best of defenses pay for overlooking them or not being as sharp as humanly possible.

The best example of this came last fall against Southern Cal.

In the season's fourth week, those who weren't familiar with the shifty pair were introduced in a big way, as the Beavers picked the Trojans apart, 27-21, in Corvallis, Ore. It was one of college football's biggest upsets in 2008.

In that game, Jacquizz rushed for a career-high 186 yards and two scores, while James caught six passes for 36 yards and OSU's other two touchdowns.

"They have national acknowledgment, I guess you could say," UNLV senior linebacker/defensive end Jason Beauchamp said. "I'm sure the whole world was watching that USC game.

"We definitely know about them, we've definitely talked about them, about the Rodgers brothers and what they have to offer. I'm not gonna say we're star struck, but they're definitely nationally recognized, and we recognize them."

The 129 yards on the ground UNLV allowed to Sacramento State weren't necessarily alarming, but the performance definitely warranted attention, considering how many of those yards came after first contact.

In essence, the Hornets actually took control of the game's tempo by running the ball so successfully.

After the Rebels came out firing on their first two offensive possessions, Sacramento State and tailback Terrance Dailey sucked the life out of the crowd and stomped all over UNLV's momentum by running the ball for chunks of yards here and there, controlling the clock and slowing the pace significantly.

It wasn't until UNLV was able to shut down the run game in the late third and early fourth quarter when the defense was able to give its offense something to build off of.

Being able to do that earlier in the game against a nationally-ranked foe means quieting the Rodgers brothers right off the bat.

"As far as the defensive line goes, we've been talking about squeezing off the tackles, because they try to get to the linebackers and the next level, because that makes it easier (for them)," Beauchamp said. "All (Jacquizz) needs is his space, a tiny gap, and he'll do something with it.

"What (defensive line coach Andre Patterson) is stressing is placing guys in your gap. Instead of making a tackle yourself, making it to where he has one option and one option only. Just closing things off, making it easier for linebackers to run over the top."

When junior linebackers Ronnie Paulo and Starr Fuimaono were able to run over the top late in the game against Sacramento State, they made huge plays which stuffed possessions short and fueled the offense.

It gets a bit trickier against Oregon State, since both Rodgers brothers can do a bit of everything.

While Jacquizz gets the brunt of the touches, the Beavers' staff is creative in getting the ball into James's hands, giving him opportunities to both run the ball and catch it on short underneath routes, where he can shift around in tiny pockets of space.

"All they need is one little crease, and they're gone," Paulo said. "I think a smaller, more agile running back is tougher to defend."

Truth is, no one ever really figured Jacquizz Rodgers out during his freshman season.

He missed the regular season finale against Oregon and the Sun Bowl victory over Pittsburgh with a shoulder injury, but in 11 games prior, Rodgers amassed 1,291 yards on the ground with 11 touchdowns, and caught 29 passes for 247 yards and another TD.

In his first two years as a Beaver, James totaled 1,036 yards on the ground on just 96 attempts and caught 70 passes for 815 yards. He had 13 TDs in all.

And it looks like more of the same for the duo so far in 2009.

Despite playing basically just one half of football against Portland State last week — a 34-7 Beavers triumph — Jacquizz had 16 carries for 103 yards and three scores, while James had two catches for 95 yards, including an 87-yard first quarter TD catch.

"They're big players on that team," Jones said. "All your weak points, you've got to focus on them way more than you ever have."

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Previous Discussion: 14 comments so far…

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  1. You can copy and paste what I have said every time. If the defense wraps ups/tackles this Rebel team will be hard to beat. GO REBELS!!!

  2. Can we please just play the damn game? I have my tickets in hand and I am ready to cheer.

    At the end of the day, if we score more points than the Beavers we will win (sarcasm).

  3. As a Beaver fan I am really looking forward to this game. You guys are better than many people think and will really give us a chance to see how good we are. I do however think we are the better team and it will show tomorrow night. You guys will be able to move the ball on us fairly well, but I don't see your defense stopping our offense. We scored on our first 5 possessions last game, and we didn't punt until our 2nd string came in. Look for us to really open the playbook against you guys and throw the ball around. Yes, James and Quizz will get there touches, but we have some other weapons that we kept under wraps last game. Also get used to seeing the number 54. Stephen Paea is the strongest man in college football, he can bench 500+ lbs. It will take more than a double team to stop him.

    Overall, looking forward to the game. We have a large contigent of Beaver fans going to this game. I have no doubts that the majority of them will be civil and hopefully you guys can show them some great hospitality! Here's to a good clean game with no injuries and a Beaver win! GO BEAVS!

  4. Over under on fights for this game?

    UNDER 54,895,473,897.5 (-900).

  5. BrandonRebelFan,

    I wasn't aware that this board was owned by UNLV fans. Why am I not allowed to read an article from the opposition's perspective on two great players that play on my favorite team and then post a friendly comment?

    I wish I was going to this game just so I could give you a high five every time we get a first down. You want smack talk? How bout your 103 ranked defense in the nation last year? You think a defense like that can stop a top three Pac-10 offense with the reigning Pac-10 player of the year? You guys better hope you can put up more than 10 points in the first half like you did against Sac State. You guys struggled against a FCS team up until the 4th quarter. We had the game wrapped up pretty quick. Don't be fooled by the score. Riley is a classy coach and had no reason to run up the score against an instate program. we could of put up 60+ points, but instead we ran a very basic offense and defense and took our starters out at halftime.

    But hey, I think UNLV can make a competative game of it if you bring your A game. But, understand it will take a C effort from our guys and an A+ effort from you guys to win.

    And I hope not all UNLV fans are like you Brandon, because if they are you guys would be right up there with Fresno State as some of the classless fans in all of college football.

    And to those who think Oregon State fans are "arrogant"...we're not. Our team works harder than any other team in the Pac-10. For 30 years we were the worst team in all of division 1a football. These last 10 years have been a blessing, and it has been great to watch this team grow and develop into a top 25 caliber program. We've earned the right to be confident. But don't get excited, our team isn't looking past you. Coach Riley's mantra is to take the season one game at a time. And we do, look at the last three years starting 2-3 each one of them yet finishing 10-4, 9-4, 9-4, pretty darn good turnarounds if you ask me.

    Finally, hopefully there will be no injuries and both teams will play hard.

  6. Do you think your coach is the only coach in the whole world who is smart enough to run a basic offense. Our 2nd string QB came into the game in the 1st quarter.

    Thanks for last years stats. We are returning 8 on defense and last year we were without out 2 best defense playmakers, both lost in the Utah game. A game we had tied at 14 at halftime.

    Any team has the right to be confident. I expect the Rebels to be confident tomorrow tonight they will be beat the Beavers. If they believed otherwise, I'd rather not even play the game. I guarantee you the Beavers were confident they could beat USC last season, otherwise it would not have happened.

    The next person who says one game at time will be pile driven into the pavement. I would like to see a team take two at a time. Maybe the season could end earlier and then we could have "enough" time to have a playoff system.

  7. So it was your coaches plan to only have a one touchdown lead at half? I doubt it. My bad on using last years stats. Maybe this year you guys can make a jump and be like the 80th best defense.
    And on the whole confident issue, I was referring to the fans more so than the team. If a team wasn't confident going into a game then god help them.

  8. @ B.O.

    Everyone here is aware of 'Beaver prowess'. The base here is curious to see if our coach can carry through with another signature win, and for the first time in his tenure, build upon it for a winning season. Most of us know UNLV Football doesn't have a leg to stand on program-wise or statistically.

    That being said, here's to the Rebels whacking another PAC-10 foe for a second consecutive year.

    And, in reference to your first post: it's 'their' not "there."

  9. I have the greatest respect for UNLV and its'
    football team and program! I sincerely hope the
    Beavers can come into Sam Boyd Stadium and bring
    their "A" game because I know it will be a tough
    game for them to win. I like many of you are really looking forward to this game because in many ways this will be the yardstick game on
    which we measure what we have for the 2009 season. At any rate best wishes to both teams
    for a clean hardfought game, one of which both
    teams can proudly say "we gave it our all"
    we left it all on the field. Thanks to UNLV for
    hosting the Beavers and giving them an opportunity compete. The majority of Beaver fans
    are gracious and accommodating. Please do not confuse OSU with the "other" school 40 mile South, the difference is like the difference between daylight and dark!! I am really looking forward to the game!!

  10. I think what you are going to see come Saturday night is that these rebels are better then you thought. As fas as the A+ & C game reference that is way off base. If the rebels win this game it will not be because they overachieved & the beavers underachieved, it will be because they are better. I don't see your defense keeping the rebels from scoring less points then you. You have 8 new players on this defense & your whole secondary will be exposed by the rebel spread offense. What makes you think that the MWC is inferior just because the so called football experts say so? The MWC will finish the season with more ranked teams then the Pac-10 & that I can promise.

  11. Just something else to chew on - OSU gave up 351 yards of total offense to a horrible Portland State Community College team that is much worse then the Sacramento State team UNLV played.

  12. Just something to chew on...UNLV only scored 10 points in the first half against a middle of the road FCS defense.

    Oh and a quick FYI, we blitzed once and ran our nickel once against PSU. Expect to see a lot blitzes and stunts from our defense, and get used to seeing #54.

  13. As an alumni of both OSU and UNLV, I find both sets of fans to be generally respectful and good sports. Drunken brawls are reserved for UNR and Hawaii games.

    As in most cases, any program will have homers and trash talkers.

    Nothing about UNLV's defense (including the in zone shutout against Sacramento State), and the offensive weapons described above, leads me to believe the Beavers aren't going to rack up points.

    That said, UNLV has a decent offense, and I hope we win.

  14. OSU will drop out of the top 25 after this loss tonight. Thanks for your donations to our local economy and stimulating the local cash flow with your earned lumberjack checks.