Andersen: Beavers still have long way to go
The Willamette Valley is wilting under the late July sun.
That means football is just around the corner.
Yes, fall camps will soon be underway and coaches and players have gathered in Los Angeles for the Pac-12 Conference's media days.
Oregon State coach Gary Andersen, running back Storm Barrs-Woods and cornerback Larry Scott represented the Beavers at the event on Thursday.
The Beavers begin practice a week from Saturday and Andersen and his staff have until the Weber State game on Sept. 4 to get the players up to speed in new offensive and defensive systems.
"It's been really good. We've had an opportunity to have two offseasons, if you will, because we're on quarters." Andersen said. "So we went offseason spring break and then offseason again, the kids have handled the summer very well and we let them know exactly where we sit."
Andersen admitted that the team has a long way to go but the players have made up quite a bit of ground since he arrived.
"We just need to be stronger and they've worked extremely hard," he said. "They accepted the fact that they knew where they were and that's always a great thing especially when you have a young team. New offense, new defense, very different from what they've done in the past.
"There's no right way or wrong way, we just do what we believe in and our kids have understood that. I think the youth of this team has helped. Eleven seniors. Youth is more receptive to change."
On offense, the Beavers have players with game experience at every position except for quarterback.
Seth Collins, Nick Mitchell and Marcus McMaryion are in the running for the spot. Collins is a true freshman and Mitchell and McMaryion are redshirt freshmen.
"It's going to be a freshman. That's breaking news right now," Andersen said.
"We're going to go through a process to see. I'd really like to get somebody named at a certain time. To be honest with you, I've looked at a lot of different options."
Andersen is open to giving two players a chance if they're even coming out of camp. He watched Northwestern have success with a two-quarterback system.
Andersen started Chuckie Keeton as a true freshman at Utah State.
"It was obvious it was Chuckie and he was ready to go, so we made that decision and it all worked out, so hopefully it goes just like that again," Andersen said.
The offensive line has quite a bit of experience, but would benefit greatly if Isaac Seumalo is able to return from a foot injury that kept him out last season.
Andersen said he expects Seumalo to be ready to go on the first day of camp.
Even with the need for several players at the position in Andersen's offense, Barrs-Woods should have an extensive role at running back.
Andersen said Barrs-Woods needs to have the ball in his hands 20-25 times a game and carry the load for the Beavers.
Barrs-Woods said the depth the running backs line up at is the biggest difference in this offense.
"When you're at seven and a half, eight (yards) you get more time to read, you get more time to set up and move as opposed to being a shotgun at four yards of depth, so it's faster reads," he said.
"The thing I think is very neat is opposed to those two-tight end sets where you have nine in the box, sometimes 10, now it's going to be a six-man box and with that, that's cake."
The Beavers are installing the 3-4 on defense, which Andersen said allows the team to use fewer defensive linemen and more smaller, faster athletes on the outside.
The Beavers lost Steven Nelson at corner and safeties Tyrequek Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy in the defensive backfield, but Scott said the unit should be just fine.
"It's been going good, honestly. We've got (Justin) Strong, who played a lot of dime last year. We've got Cyril (Noland-Lewis) and we've got Dwayne Williams on the other side. It's been going pretty good," Scott said.
"They went out there at practice and they played very well, so it's been pretty easy, to be honest."
Andersen said he is confident that the Beavers can win football games this season.
"We can be a good football team and we can send these seniors out with their chests puffed out and their heads held high as long as we can deal with adversity and allow ourselves to mature as we go through camp," he said.
"I like where they're at, I like the challenge. They're exciting, they're fun to coach. They're youthful. Something's going to happen."