A portrait of a successfull program is being painted

Josh Worden, Senior Beat Reporter

 

Storm Barrs-Woods is trying to become a painter.

Not with a canvas or brushes, though. The picture he’s painting is a metaphorical one, concerning the direction of Oregon State’s football program.

That direction? Oregon State is going to be — and very soon, he said — a “powerhouse program.”

“This thing can turn around at any time,” the senior running back said. “That’s the big picture I’ve been trying to paint. When this thing gets turned around, Oregon State is going to be a force.”

Barrs-Woods spent portions of this year injured and missed the Civil War on Saturday but is fifth all-time in OSU history with 2,674 rushing yards. He spent 2011-2015 with the program, bookending his career with three and two-win seasons, respectively.

But, Barrs-Woods is about as optimistic as you can get. He reused one word in particular to describe OSU’s future — scary.

“It’s going to be scary. I’m the first to say it will be scary. Just with the young guys,” he said shortly before the season ended. “(The coaches) push us, push us, push us for the better. Oregon State is going to be a powerhouse really soon. Really soon.”

A powerhouse program? A bit premature, but he has a point.

One of the bright spots that Barrs-Woods pointed out was freshmen running back Ryan Nall, who took over for Barrs-Woods in the Civil War and racked up 228 total yards and a touchdown. Nall will join a host of running backs next season, including Chris Brown, Tim Cook, Deltron Sands and Damien Haskins.

“I still got confidence in us. I still got faith in us,” Nall said. “Just because we’re having a down season right now doesn’t mean I love my team any different. We’re going to continue to grind next year.”

OSU went 2-10 this year and 0-10 against Power-Five conference teams. Most of the losses were ugly. The Beavers did not deserve to go to a bowl game this year, but the roster is still in flux under new head coach Gary Andersen and chemistry suffered. All’s not lost; there are inevitably some bumps in the road.

OSU’s recruiting has been competitive this year, but the biggest need currently is complete dedication on behalf of all players to what Andersen and his staff are preaching.

Four players decided to leave the program Monday: Nick Mitchell, Malik Gilmore, Luke Hollingsworth and Chris Hayes. According to Andersen, there’s a partition being made. There are the players who are getting “amped up” by the new facilities and program as a whole. Then, there are the players who are hesitant and haven’t bought in. 

“I love when that happens,” Andersen said. “I’m used to that taking place.”

Andersen has a mountain to summit, but he has his climbing gear with him.

Still, the Beavers’ only two wins this year were against Weber State and San Jose State, and OSU hasn’t beaten a team by more than 21 points in their last 30 games.

It did seem, however, that OSU was inches away from a breakout of sorts on multiple different occasions. That’s not to say OSU deserved to win eight games, but a handful of plays throughout the season compounded against the Beavers’ favor.

“It’s just that one play where it’s called back on penalty, something that shifts the momentum, it’s taken a toll on us throughout the season,” Nall said. “And then we try to come back and another thing happens. It just doesn’t go our way.”

There are a few such situations that come to mind: Paul Lucas’ 76-yard run against Washington that got OSU to the 8-yard line, but the drive ended without points. Victor Bolden’s catch against California that would have been a touchdown had his foot not touched the sideline. Lamone Williams wrapping his body around the legs of Oregon’s Vernon Adams on a third-and-ten, who still rifled a first-down pass on an eventual touchdown drive.

On third downs this season with two or three yards to go, OSU converted on 14-of-31 tries. The Beavers went 3-for-17 this year on fourth downs. Five of those missed conversions were with one or two yards to go for the first down.

Change a few of those aspects, and OSU has an easier season. Oh, and the injuries. To name a few: Sean Harlow, Caleb Smith, Gavin Andrews and Deltron Sands were out for the season. Both starting cornerbacks, Treston Decoud and Larry Scott, missed time. The players who started the season on the two-deep depth chart combined to miss more than 80 games this year.

It may take time, but the OSU football program will have its moment. Before we close the book on this season and look expectantly to the promising year ahead for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, I’ll make a few predictions on the OSU football program.

OSU will win five games next year and seven the following. Seth Collins will stay in the program, maybe in a similar multi-faceted role as in the Civil War. The Beavers will wear throwback jerseys in a home game next year, and the attendance rate will rise from 36,074 fans per home game this year to above 40,000. And, Ryan Nall will be a key cog at OSU, whether he stays at running back or changes positions for the umpteenth time.

“I feel like we can go undefeated,” Nall said. “That’s the confidence in my team. I love these guys to death. Once we finally get to click, it’s going to be hard to get to stop us.”

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