Golden Tate was pretty good this past Saturday, but wait until you see what the other guys can do.
The Notre Dame junior receiver took a USC defense that had barely bent all season — and was almost never broken — and, well, broke it a bit.
He had eight catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns — the first two through the air against USC all season long.
Now imagine what two Golden Tates could do against USC’s defense. Scary, right?
That’s the problem the Trojans will face Saturday, when Oregon State comes to town with the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James.
Twice the skill, twice the playmaking ability.
USC will have its hands full.
“The Rodgers brothers are ridiculous,” USC coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday. “They’re both terrific football players. They can get you a number of different ways.”
Jacquizz can run between the tackles and outside of them. He dances through seams like a man on a tightrope, delicately measuring each step on his way to accomplishing some grand feat.
“He’s the style of runner that really demands of it your defense,” Carroll said. “You give him a crack, he can take it. If you make a mistake he’s going to take advantage of it.”
And did he ever take advantage of it last year. No one will forget the sophomore running back’s 186-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Beavers’ 27-21 victory in Corvallis, Ore. a season ago.
Jacquizz Rodgers became a household name.
This year, he’s on a staggering pace. In six games, he’s rushed for nearly 700 yards and 13 touchdowns — running behind a line with one starting senior.
He can catch the ball, too: 38 receptions for 269 yards.
“There’s no magic to it,” Oregon State coach Mike Riley said of his running back. “He’s a good player.”
A very good player.
When the ball is in his hands, look out. Thirteen touchdowns don’t happen by accident.
And his brother James?
His two-touchdown performance in last year’s upset seems to slip through the cracks, but nothing the junior wide receiver is doing is slipping through the cracks this year.
He leads the team in receptions with 43, receiving yards with 544, and has four touchdowns. He’s also averaging 15 yards per punt return and almost 23 yards per kick return.
He’s an electrifying player with incredible skills.
All of this presents a major problem for USC. How will the Trojans match up against the likes of two talented playmakers?
We saw the way Tate gave USC’s defense fits this past Saturday. He broke a big play on an incredible catch for a touchdown, beating redshirt senior cornerback Josh Pinkard to the ball. He prolonged the potential game-tying drive with a leaping catch over the middle.
Now imagine two players who can light it up like Tate on the field at the same time. Both can run and catch. They can make the plays to grind out yards just as well as they can burn you for the big play.
“We’ve got to put together a great week of preparation,” Carroll said. “It really calls for a strict approach to it this week.”
Carroll was pleased with the way his team started this week off in practice, but will that be enough to contain the Rodgers brothers?
The Trojans had two weeks to prepare for Tate, yet he nearly beat them in the second half, making six of his eight grabs in the final 30 minutes and scoring twice.
Yes, Tate does have junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen throwing him the football, and the Notre Dame line is ripe with seniors. And no, Oregon State senior quarterback Sean Canfield is not on Clausen’s level.
But Canfield is beginning to hit his stride, and the Beavers’ offense is clicking with three straight games of 28-plus points.
That means the offense is as explosive as it has been — and the Rodgers brothers are at the center of it.
Now it’s up to the Trojans to stop Jacquizz and James on Saturday. If they can’t, the fourth quarter won’t be the only troublesome quarter for USC.
“Thrilla on Manilla Paper” runs every other Thursday. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or email Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.