Sep 14, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington State Cougars offensive linesman Jake Rodgers (69) blocks during the fourth quarter against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been about a month now since Jake Rodgers made it official that he was transferring out of the program to go pursue a happier opportunity somewhere else. Of course, upon hearing I wrote this article outlining how great it was that the Cougs have progressed to a spot where he won’t be missed as much as in the past, which is probably still true. However I find myself at a crossroads…
For some reason as I am putting together my article on the guards and centers that Mike Leach and O-line coach Clay McGuire are offering, I’m having a somewhat uneasy reflective time of what Rodgers gave the Cougar O-line that they don’t have at the guard position now; Supreme size and of course, a full year starting experience. The kid was 6’6″, 323 lbs! Much as I love John Fullington (6’5″, 297), Joe Dahl (6’4″, 289) and Denzell Dotson (6’2″, 321), they each give up a significant amount in either height or weight to Rodgers.
In one package Rodgers was the perfect Mike Leach guard. Unfortunately last season he had to move around to both tackle spots at times, which hurt his progression. In fact the times I remember Jake the most were games where he was getting whipped out on the edge. He played high and slow and defensive ends didn’t even have to try very hard at times. Speed rush, spin, up the field and dip back, bull rush, it all worked and all in seemingly record breaking time! 3-Man rushes were money when Rodgers was out on the edge, plain and simple.
But for all of Rodgers’ faults out there, it was his strengths that would have solidified the line beyond measure this season. Even though he was headed into the Fall as a number two, I’m growing more positive he would have been impossible to keep off the field because of them. When you didn’t notice him, it was because he just ate defenders alive almost effortlessly. He was/is just simply terrific in a confined area and when he gets his hands on you, well… it’s over. And like I said before, his size was/is unmatched in our guard play this season. Neither Fullington nor Dahl is going to put on that many lbs over the Summer and Dotson won’t magically sprout 4 inches, so the Cougs lost out on at least something with Rodgers’ departure.
When I wrote that article, I certainly didn’t mean that WSU wasn’t losing anything, though I see how it would’ve been taken that way. All I meant was that it’s nice that the depth is at least better behind it, whereas last season we’d have been down to 5 offensive linemen for the entire season and had to burn a redshirt off someone else who wasn’t ready (was anybody ready?). At any rate, I’ll miss the locks flowing from under Rodgers’ helmet and the vice grip he was sure to put on a plethora of d-tackles and linebackers. Hopefully the other guys can step up and at least semi-match the production.