RB Barrs-Woods to play big role for Oregon State this fall
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) Oregon State running back Storm Barrs-Woods is going to be busy this fall.
The Beavers are one of the youngest teams in college football, returning only 11 seniors on scholarship, and will start a freshman at quarterback. That means plenty of touches for Barrs-Woods, as new Oregon State coach Gary Andersen plans to feature the redshirt senior in hopes of taking pressure off his inexperienced passer.
''Storm is ready to accept that role and that responsibility,'' Andersen said Thursday at Pac-12 media days. ''He needs to be a young man that gets the ball in his hands 20, 25 times a game. Every game is different, and there are different opportunities that arise, but he needs to carry the load for us back there.''
The running game is going to have to be the foundation for Andersen, who shockingly bolted Wisconsin for Oregon State four days after the Badgers' loss in the Big Ten championship game.
Bringing back 12 starters, but only two on defense, Oregon State's solace is that it should be stout up front. All five offensive linemen that started Oregon State's final four games last season return, and Issac Seumalo is finally healthy after missing all of 2014 with a foot injury.
Seumalo started 27 games in his first two seasons at Oregon State, living up to his billing as one of the nation's top prep linemen, and could play any position on the line.
''I expect Isaac to start camp the first day and be ready to go, which is great,'' Andersen said. ''I don't want to see him on the injury report anymore. We're past that. No young man in the country deserves to have an opportunity to play football again (more) than him. Nobody has worked harder.''
Barrs-Woods also has worked to be the centerpiece of the offense, including changing his mindset on and off the field. When Barrs-Woods was sharing the backfield with Sean Mannion, the Pac-12's career leader in yards passing, he could defer to the veteran quarterback.
''It just magnifies what I have to do even more, because the room for error is not as big,'' Barrs-Woods said. ''With Sean Mannion back there, All-American quarterback, NFL quarterback, he pretty much knows everything. Not saying these young guys won't, but they don't have as much experience, so it is just my job to help on pass (protection), catch every single ball, run the ball. That is the way I can help those guys the most, by controlling the clock and helping play-action get set up.''
Andersen took a similarly conservative approach at Wisconsin, riding Melvin Gordon for 4,196 yards rushing and 41 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
A self-professed ''sports junkie,'' Barrs-Woods was watching Gordon long before Andersen became Oregon State's coach, measuring his production against the best in the nation.
''I'm a competitor, too,'' Barrs-Woods said. ''I would look at my stats, see what the other running backs did. Of course Melvin blew me out of the water. Seeing a guy like him and (Georgia running back Todd) Gurley was so exciting.''
Besides adding to his 2,250 career yards rushing and 24 touchdowns, Barrs-Woods will also have a new addition to the back of his jersey this season, hyphenating his last name to recognize his mother, Faith Barrs.
However, Barrs-Woods won't legally change his name until after the season. There are limits to how busy Barrs-Woods plans to be this fall.