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Exactly how good is Jermar Jefferson?

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Can the true freshman become of the best Oregon State running backs of all-time or should expectations be tempered?

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon State Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

True freshman, Jermar Jefferson, got his chance to shine almost immediately when he took over backfield duties for an injured Artavis Pierce in the second game of the season for the Beavers. He’s gone on to have perhaps the best five game stretch of any running back in Oregon State history. He now is owner of two of the four best single game rushing records and has somehow nabbed 12 rushing touchdowns over those five games (also a record); but perhaps it’s time to pump-the-brakes on all the Jefferson hype.

RUSHING YARDS - SINGLE GAME

  1. Bill Enyart - 299 yards (1968)
  2. Jermar Jefferson - 254 yards (2018)
  3. Steven Jackson - 239 yards (2002)
  4. Jermar Jefferson - 238 yards (2018)
  5. Ken Simonton - 234 yards (200)

Going into Oregon State’s bye week Jefferson is 2nd nationally in rush yards, which is admittedly incredible considering all the factors working against him: he wasn’t the starter going into the season, he’s played with three different quarterbacks due to injuries and has been facing increased attention from opposing defenses as each week passes.

ESPN Stats

Obviously now that Artavis Pierce is back and just due to a sheer regression to the mean, this monstrous pace Jefferson is on will not continue. He has a good chance to top Jacquizz Rodgers freshman rushing record of 1,253 yards, but I don’t think it’s likely he breaks the freshman Pac-12 record set by LaMichael James (1,546 yards).

My question posed in the headline remains, exactly how good is Jermar Jefferson? Of course he is a very talented running back and has the potential to get in the conversation as one of the best OSU running backs of all time (if this continues), but my fear is this: finding running lanes is going to be increasingly difficult when the offensive line loses a ton of very talented and experienced players after the season ends.

The offensive line and coach Jim Michalczik deserve huge amounts of credit for their role in Jermar Jefferson’s success, but it will be tough to keep it up when they are trying to replace a bunch of departed seniors. Sumner Houston, Trent Moore, Kammy Delp and Yanni Demogerontas will all be out of eligibility after this season. That’s four of the top six offensive lineman for the Beavers.

Believe me, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying watching Jermar Jefferson play this season and I am VERY excited for him to become the first 1,000 yard rusher since Jacquizz Rodgers accomplished the feat in 2010. But the last five games this season are going to be brutal for the Beavers. The schedule is infinitely tougher and Artavis Pierce absolutely deserves to get his fair share of carries now that he is healthy. Do not be surprised if Jefferson’s production starts to teeter as the season winds down. Also, I’m concerned about putting too much pressure on Jermar Jefferson going forward, because this might be the most experienced offensive line he has blocking for him during his career in Corvallis.

Then again I could be completely wrong and Jefferson could continue to dominate. The current freshman Pac-12 rushing record holder thinks Jefferson deserves even more credit than he is getting.

Next up, Oregon State takes on a Cal team that allows just 155.8 yards per game on the ground (4.1 YPC). Then the schedule ramps up with Colorado, USC, Stanford, Washingon and Oregon.


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