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October 21, 2009The USC defense has been preparing to face Oregon State's talented running back Jacquizz Rodgers by using Curtis McNeal to imitate the diminutive back. De'Von Flournoy, however, has been trying to make sure the Trojans haven't forgotten about his older brother James Rodgers, who leads the Pac-10 in all purpose yards.
Playing the 5-foot-7 Rodgers is a role the 6-foot Flournoy is unfamiliar with, not just because of the height difference.
"He plays big even if he's undersized just like his brother, the running back," Flournoy said. "They called me in to watch film because there was some stuff that I've never ran, never ran in high school, never ran here, things that I haven't even seen in our offense where he's doing all these phony (routes) and stuff like that."
Flournoy views the scout team assignment of taking sweeps, being a decoy and running around like Rodgers as an opportunity not only to show the coaches what he can do but a chance to learn a few lessons too.
"It seems like he really doesn't take plays off," he said. "Even when he's a decoy, he's still running full speed like he has the ball. Even being an undersized receiver he still plays to the potential of a bigger receiver and with the heart of a great receiver. It's just my opportunity to go run his routes and go up against the ones on our team."
James Rodgers has grabbed four touchdowns through the air already this year and averages 5.9 yards a carry. Flournoy can tell the USC defense has adjusted accordingly to stop him.
"I feel like they're always cheating because they always watch a lot of film, and so I'll run a route and I feel like they're already there," he said. "I'm not giving away my route with my body. I'm not telling them, so how do they know? But that's just how our defense is. They watch a lot of film so they see certain alignments and they'll start calling things and shifting, and I'm like here it goes.
"They're going to be where the ball is going."
Rodgers scored two touchdowns against the Trojans last year in Corvallis. Safety Josh Pinkard knows what Rodgers brings to the table and that the defense will have to do more than be in the right place at the right time.
"We saw it last year; he's a great player," Pinkard said. "We've just got to make the plays that we need to and tackle well. He's much lower, and you've got to wrap him up, not like the average guys who you can wrap up and throw down because he's got a lower center of gravity."
With the defense corralling their version of the Rodgers brothers - Flournoy and McNeal - in practice, it will be a tough task to see if they can do the same to the real thing on Saturday in the Coliseum.
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