MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The 2012 Texas game made a momentary hero out of Andrew Buie, the kid with the straightline bursts running for 207 yards and two touchdowns in what so far stands as the pinnacle of West Virginia’s still-brief tenure in the Big 12.
Though Buie’s currently on a season-long hiatus from the team, the Texas defense will be facing an even better running back Saturday in transfer Charles Sims.
The senior transfer grew up in Houston and spent his first four college seasons there, becoming a Conference USA standout in the long shadow of the Longhorns.
“I always wanted to play Texas,” Sims said this week. “Growing up as a kid, that’s all you heard about was Texas.”
Sims saw film from West Virginia’s 48-45 win in Austin last season, and hopes this season’s reshuffled offensive line can have similar success.
“The O-line just established the front early in the game,” he said. “We want to be physical like that again.”
After a season-best 154 yards against TCU, Sims has climbed to third in Big 12 rushing at 83.8 yards a game. His 38 catches lead all conference running backs. Most of those catches have come on quick screens near the line, de facto extended handoffs that allow Sims to put pressure on defenders in space.
“This guy can go,” said Greg Robinson, who replaced Manny Diaz in Week 4 as the Longhorn’s defensive coordinator. “He can really go, obviously. He’s got speed, but he can put the foot in the ground and make the cut. I think he’s tough.”
MANNING THE MIDDLE
The offensive guard tandem of Quinton Spain and Mark Glowinski was stellar at TCU, and the man between them certainly noticed.
“They’re just two physical guys who like coming off the ball and smacking people in the face,” said center Pat Eger.
As West Virginia gains more experience installing its power scheme, the unit’s execution needed to pick up—and the TCU game may have been the sharpest outing yet.
Four of the five current offensive line starters saw action at Texas last season—only Glowinski, who did not travel while redshirting—has yet to face the Longhorns.
“Mark’s the type of kid where you don’t have to get him ready,” Eger said. “He’s just a physical, nasty kid who likes coming off the ball. He’s ready for whatever.”
ALFORD CATCHING ON
Returning to the starting lineup last week in the wake of Ronald Carswell’s suspension, receiver Mario Alford netted a season-high 63 yards on three receptions.
With Carswell subsequently ruled out for the season, Alford seems a sure bet to remain at outside X-receiver after struggling in the slot.
“He’s starting to get more confidence, and he didn’t have any at camp the beginning of the year,” said quarterback Clint Trickett.
“In camp you’re going to get yelled at more than you are in-season, and you’d just see him get down. I’d have to pull him aside and say, ‘Hey, it’s a long process. I’m going through it to and our time will come.’”