MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While West Virginia had to squeak out a win over William and Mary last week, the team’s best playmaker right now appears to be running back Charles Sims.
The former Houston standout put up 120 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries for West Virginia in the win.
“He got stronger as the game went on, and if you watch the way he runs, you don’t get a good hit on him,” said Mountaineers running backs’ coach JaJuan Seider. “The only thing that would wear him down is maybe the temperature or humidity. I thought we did a great job of keeping him fresh – for us to be successful, he needs to touch the ball. He’s our best player and he needs to get the ball any way he can.”
Sims, previously, has a history of taking in a lot of catches as well. He had 70 catches for 759 yards as a freshman at Houston under Dana Holgorsen’s offense. Last week, though, he brought in just one pass.
Regardless, the overall pass-run ratio for West Virginia against William and Mary was skewed to the ground game (44 rushes to 27 passing attempts).
“You can never predict how the game is going to go – we were prepared to go either way with it. That’s the base of our offense,” Seider said. “We are a balanced offense, but we probably ran more than (Holgorsen) is used to.”
But does that continue this week against Oklahoma? Both Coach Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson expressed their interests in getting the ball in the air more this week. If that happens, are there enough carries to go around between Sims, Dreamius Smith, Wendell Smallwood and even junior Dustin Garrison?
“I think so,” Seider said. “We should have more reps. You look at the second quarter last week, it was bad. We had, what, 10 plays? If we get first downs, the drives will still be going on. I tell my guys to give me four or five hard plays as hard as you can and I’ll get you out. That’s how comfortable I am with the guys (we have at running back).”
Last week, the 1-2 punch of Sims and Smith was encouraging. Smith finished with 40 yards on 12 carries in the win.
“He’s a great back and he does things you wouldn’t see out of a normal back,” Smith said of Sims. “We’re going to keep feeding him the ball and me as well. We’ll just do whatever the coaches tell us, and execute off of it.”
Smallwood figures to factor into the mix as well in the backfield. But veteran Dustin Garrison almost seems to have been lost in the shuffle. He had just one carry last week for three yards.
“A lot of times when we sub, it’s about who I see in front of me,” Seider said. “I probably should have got Dustin in more in the first half. But you can tell a guy who is a team player – you got back to Wendell’s touchdown and (Garrison) was just as excited as he was. To me, those things are important. The kid has played a lot of games and has one of the best rushing games on this field. You can’t lose sight of that experience.”
The Mountaineers this week will put that rushing attack up against a revamped Sooners’ defense that limited Louisiana-Monroe to just 38 rushing yards on 22 attempts.
“They’re Oklahoma,” Seider said. “They have All-Americans all over the field. They have a fast and aggressive defense. They have a lot of athletes running around and we will have our hands full.”
And after last year’s offensive outpouring by West Virginia on Oklahoma, along with last week’s run-heavy attack, it’s safe to assume the Sooners will hone in a bit more on the Mountaineer running backs.
“We can get the idea of seeing that, but we’ll just take what they give us,” Smith said. “We’re just going to execute off of it and take what they give us.”