Sims shows power, versatility in turnaround victory

West Virginia running back Charles Sims (3) runs for a 31-yard touchdown as TCU cornerback Kevin White chases during the second quarter.


FORT WORTH, Texas — After the soft-spoken Charles Sims posted 189 yards of offense and scored two touchdowns Saturday, he was dubbed “the silent killer” by center Pat Eger.

His best all-around outing as a Mountaineer featured a 24-carry workhorse effort and more niftiness run the passing game, helping fuel West Virginia to a 30-27 overtime victory at TCU.

But WVU’s silent killer benefited from some noisy lobbying by his offensive linemen, who noticed TCU’s interior defenders playing a read-and-react technique. Down 17-3 in the second quarter, WVU went to its power running game immediate and impressive results: A three-play, 87-yard drive on which Sims ripped off runs of 29 and 31 yards, the second going for a momentum-turning.

“The two interior guys were moving lateral and not coming off the ball that much,” Eger said. “They were slanting a little bit, playing a little soft and trying to read it. So we got on the sideline and told Coach (Ron) Crook, ‘Run the power.’ And that’s what we did.”

Sandwiched between those two identical left-side power runs, came a play-action fake—off the same power run—as Clint Trickett hit Mario Alford for 27 yards.

The drive abruptly altered the timbre of the game, leading WVU on a run of 24 unanswered points.

Sims said his mindset was “just to keep the guys going” at a time when WVU’s season seemed to going into the sewer. “You just don’t want anybody to get down,” he said.

No better way to perk up the troops than traversing the length of the field in 62 seconds, as the Mountaineers did on that turnaround possession.

Sims caught a crucial touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, outrunning the defense 13 yards to the pylon on a quick screen.

In overtime, after TCU failed to score on its first series, Sims appeared to score the game-winning touchdown only to have it negated by a questionable holding call behind the play.

“I wasn’t worried, because I knew we still had the field goal,” said Sims, who moments later watched Josh Lambert push though the decisive 34-yarder.

“I think today we turned everything around,” Sims said.

No offseason recruiting effort by Dana Holgorsen was more consequential than luring Sims to WVU. Sure, the Mountaineers are only 4-5, but without Sims’ impact on Saturdays and his influence in practices, this season could be far uglier. Holgorsen hinted at this during his postgame assessment that the versatile Sims does more for his team than “any back in the country.”

That was the case against TCU, as Sims lined up in power sets, one-back looks, motioned into the slot and sometimes was split wide. He ran for 154 yards (averaging 6.4 per carry) and caught three passes for 35 yards (almost all after the catch).

“Well,” said Sims, “I just do whatever Coach tells me.”

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