KENT — How did Woody Barrett go from the Kent State football program's poster boy to its backup quarterback?
Coach Sean Lewis shed some light on his decision to start junior Dustin Crum ahead of Barrett in last Saturday's 26-23 overtime victory over Kennesaw State during his weekly news conference on Monday.
“We've got two really good quarterbacks,” Lewis said. “We're going to play them both, and we're going to find a way to win by playing them both.”
Barrett was brought into the Golden Flashes program shortly after Lewis took over as head coach in December 2017, and beat out Crum for the job in preseason camp before the 2018 season. Barrett went on to start every game last season, throwing for 2,339 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 503 yards and seven scores.
Barrett was considered the unquestioned starter during 2019 spring practices. Barrett's photo appears on the cover of Kent State's media guide and game program, and he represented the team at Mid-American Conference Media Day festivities in Detroit in late July.
“When it was time to go to MAC Media Day, [Barrett] was the starting quarterback. He had earned that right,” Lewis said. “Woody had a lingering injury through training camp we kind of kept under wraps. There was no competitive advantage in letting that out. He's fine now. Today as we sit here he's a really good quarterback in our program who is going to have an opportunity to play on Saturday.”
The Flashes (1-1) will visit No. 8 Auburn (2-0) on Saturday. Barrett started his collegiate career with the Tigers before transferring first to Copiah-Lincoln Community College (Miss.), then to Kent State.
Barrett started the first game this season at Arizona State and was removed after struggling early. Crum played in the middle two quarters, then Barrett was reinserted and led the Flashes to their only touchdown in a 30-7 loss.
Crum was the surprise starter on Saturday, and went the entire way save for Barrett's brief red-zone stint. The former Midview High School star completed 17-of-23 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in his third collegiate start, and led his team on a 49-yard drive in the final 1:47 of regulation that produced the game-tying 38-yard field goal by sophomore Matthew Trickett.
Lewis said on Saturday that Crum wasn't told he would start until just before kickoff.
“It's about the results in the day in and day out preparation for things,” Lewis said when asked how he chooses his starting quarterback. “Playing time's not going to be handed to anyone. They've got to earn it, the same way you have to earn things in life. It's like that with every single position on this team.
"I feel our [coaching] staff does a great job of being very open and direct with our kids. I know I'm very closed off and indirect with the public about how those things happen, but that's a family matter and those decisions and why they're made are going to stay in-house. Our kids know exactly why they are happening.”
So who will start at quarterback Saturday at Auburn?
“As the [game] plan comes together, we'll see how skill sets fit best across the board at every position,” Lewis said. “There's a competitive nature on our practice field right now, and because of that we don't get complacent. They know they've got to come out and show up on Tuesday to earn the right to play on Saturday. It's something our kids have really bought into. It's part of our culture, part of who we are.”