INDIANAPOLIS — Oregon had a comfortable 41-17 lead in the third quarter, but Oregon State had temporarily come up with an answer for stopping running back Kenjon Barner.
The teams were playing in the annual “Civil War” game last season, and Barner found himself in a stretch where he totaled just 5 yards on eight carries. None of those attempts picked up more than 4 yards.
That’s when Chip Kelly stepped in and showed why he’s earned the reputation as an offensive guru.
“We had been running inside zone the entire game, and it hadn’t really hit like we wanted it to hit,” Barner said Friday at the Combine. “He saw something with the defensive end and the linebacker, called a timeout, pulled me to the side and told me to cut it back. I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was like, ‘Coach, it hasn’t been there all game.’ But I did it, and I ran for 60 yards.
“For him to see that before a play is even ran, I think that’s kind of uncommon.”
Forgive Barner for a bit of exaggeration. It was actually a 52-yard run, but you get the point. Barner ran 28 times for 198 yards that day. As a senior, he piled up 1,767 yards and averaged 6.4 yards per carry.
He was asked today what advice he’d give to LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown about playing for Kelly.
“Be in great shape,” Barner said. “That’s my best advice. Be in great shape.
“If you weren’t in shape, you couldn’t last in that offense. That’s the bottom line. During the offseason, you have to push yourself to your absolute limit to where you felt that you couldn’t go any further, so by the time the season came, it was a piece of cake.”
Barner recalled feeling like he had to throw-up during his first practice with Kelly.
“It started off ugly, but it ended up being a masterpiece,” he said.
Going forward, he has no doubt that Kelly will be just as successful at the next level.
“No doubt at all,” Barner said. “I’ll continue to say, the man’s a genius. And his ability to adapt to any environment, any situation, I’ve never seen it. I’ve never been around it. So for him to go to that level, I think he’ll be just fine.”