Storm Woods vs. De'Anthony Thomas
By Colin Huber
There are a bunch of good running back comparisons in the Pac-12, none better than in-state rivals Storm Woods and De'Anthony Thomas. So, who's better?
The Case For Oregon State RB Storm Woods
Woods is a redshirt sophomore running back for Mike Riley’s Beavers. He’s an even 6-foot tall, and just more than 200 pounds. Judging by his bulked-up stature at spring practices, he’s likely added to an already-decent running back weight.
Woods finished the 2012 season with 240 yards on 192 attempts. He had 13 touchdowns and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He also picked up 313 yards through the air and 38 receptions, an average of 8.2. Not out-of-this-world, but definitely decent numbers for a freshman.
Most impressive was his 4.9 yards per carry, which reared its head back in September when Woods smacked Arizona with 161 yards on 29 carries, 5.6 on average. Woods was effective in every game that season, dropping under 50 yards just twice. However, other than 20-plus carry games against the Wildcats, UCLA and Texas, Woods didn’t see a significant load. In fact, he shared carries with Terron Ward for most of the season.
That’s not typically Oregon State’s style. Mike Riley likes feature backs. Steven Jackson, Ken Simonton, and Jacquizz Rodgers were all heavy-load backs.
Last year, Woods’ carry frequency would fade as games wore on. Riley even said it himself, per Lindsay Schnell of the Oregonian.
That should change this year, but any hint of being the feature has yet to be seen. Woods does fit the mold, however.
The Case For Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas
Junior running back De’Anthony Thomas, along with quarterback Marcus Mariota, is the THE GUY in Eugene. Due to his play on Oregon’s trips to the recent Fiesta Bowl and title games, and his remarkably entertaining Twitter account, Thomas is a national name in college football.
Oh, and then there’s the fact that he’s very, very fast.
Thomas tallied 701 yards on 92 carries his sophomore year, a 7.6 yards-per-carry average. Screens and quick slants made him even deadlier in a passing game where he put up 445 yards on 45 receptions. And then there’s his kick/punt return game. Yeah.
Thomas is the perfect specimen for head coach Mark Helfrich’s (formerly Chip Kelly’s) spread/speed/rocket fueled offense.
Where Thomas falls short, however, is his size and strength and ability to break tackles. Typically, if Thomas is touched (if defenders catch him), he goes down.
However, recent tweets from the man himself suggest he has added weight — with muscle. That should help.
So, will the Pac-12 see even more of Thomas this year?
Right now, because I have to pick one, I’ll go with Thomas. He has a year on Woods, has more experience on bigger stages and is in a system set perfectly for his speed.
However, when looking for a prototypical pro-style running back, Storm Woods has an easy edge. He’s bigger, stronger and breaks tackles — which is the pro game.
But if Thomas can bump 170 pounds up closer to 200, he might make himself a Heisman frontrunner. Easy.
Woods and Thomas are completely different players at the same position, a testament to the versatility of college football offenses.
Baker in Oregon
And let's be honest, DAT is a running back in name only. What he truly is is a slotback type of hybrid -- a throwback player that was common in the 1950s and '60s. He's used as much as a recevier-type as he is a running back type in Oregon's offense. He'll "carry" the ball a decent amount, but really it's about "touches" with DAT, not carries. I'm a huge fan of Woods and he looks liike he's ready to carry on that rich OSU running back tradition of Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Ken Simonton and Yvenson Bernard. I'd label DAT the winner, too, but with an asterisk. He's a little more than a running back in this offense.