Even though Terron Ward finished last season as Oregon State’s starting running back, he was always considered “the other guy.”
Malcolm Agnew was the starter early last season and Storm Woods was the up-and-comer.
Ward waited in the wings while coaches and teammates felt he could easily be the primary back if the opportunity presented itself.
It took an injury to Woods and an off night for Agnew, but Ward came to the forefront last Saturday night against Arizona State.
Ward was instrumental in the victory, rushing for 146 yards and scoring on a 53-yard run that was a turning point in the 36-26 victory.
“I was amazed and happy, but I knew he had it in him,” Woods said. “When we were competing in the fall and spring we were all doing good and the separation was hard. I came away the starter, but each one of us can change the game and help us run the ball.”
Coach Mike Riley used Ward because of his pass-blocking ability since he planned to call the pass frequently.
Ward not only blocked well, but found the holes and accelerated through quickly when a handoff was called. His success led to more running plays.
“My whole motto as a running back is to make the first guy miss and if I do that I did my job,” Ward said. “The line made the holes big that were easy to see. It made it easy for me to make the one guy miss.”
Thanks to that performance, Ward has earned more playing time, Riley said.
But for a while, it didn’t look like it was going to happen.
He had rarely been used this season and had just 10 carries before getting 19 against the Sun Devils.
Riley likes to get his primary back in a rhythm with plenty of carries. Woods averages 4.6 yards a carry; Agnew 3.9.
With those numbers, and the 38 pass attempts a game, there was just no opportunity for Ward.
“You just have to be patient in this game and wait for your opportunity, and when you get it, you have to take advantage of it,” Ward said. “We have three good running backs. I wouldn’t say I was frustrated. I try to help the team as much as I can. I’ve been playing special teams a lot. And then when a running back opportunity came along, I just took advantage of it.”
Ward needed that performance to re-energize himself. While not too frustrated, Ward admitted he was a little down earlier this season.
“I felt confident in spring ball and fall camp and tried to keep my confidence up,” Ward said. “It got down a little bit when I wasn’t playing much. Now I feel I can still play with anyone.”
That’s because Ward is starting to show the ability that attracted the Beavers to him out of California’s storied De La Salle High in Concord.
He was a finalist for the 2009 state player of the year after rushing for 2,050 yards and 28 touchdowns.
“I’ve known Terron a long time,” said defensive back Dylan Wynn, who was a teammate at De La Salle. “We all know that’s how he is and how he plays. It was nice for him to get his time to shine and produce like we know he can.”
Ward was the starter at the end of last season out of default. Agnew and Jovan Stevenson were hurt and Woods was redshirting.
Ward shared the running back duties with Jordan Jenkins, depending on the situation. Ward saw limited success as he averaged 3.3 yards on 63 carries. He averages 6.1 yards a carry now.
“I’m just a year more mature in the system,” Ward said. “I know where the holes are going to be and how the linemen are blocking. And the line itself is doing a great job to make it easier on us to do our job.”
The Nov. 17 home game against California will kick off at 7:30 p.m. The Pac-12 Networks (420, 421) will televise the matchup. ... C Isaac Seumalo (hip) missed practice, but Riley expects him to return today.