Howard’s still got a grip despite right wrist injury

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard pushes forward on an inside carry during the Mountaineers’ 38-20 win over Texas on Saturday.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Skyler Howard’s late-game touchdown run against Texas also left the West Virginia quarterback with a sore right wrist that continues to receive treatment.

The injury to his throwing hand sported an ice-wrap after Saturday’s 38-20 victory and remained wrapped during Tuesday’s media session.

“It’s getting better,” Howard said, suggesting he’ll be ready to make his 12th consecutive start this week against winless Kansas (0-10, 0-7). “Right now I can still grip a football, so we’re good.”

The injury occurred with 3:40 remaining against Texas when Howard surged across for a 2-yard score. He immediately began favoring the right hand as he celebrated with teammates and jogged toward the sideline.

‘Q Power’ gets tough yards: It might not matter if Howard’s throwing ability is limited, considering Kansas’ rush defense ranks only 121st nationally. West Virginia (5-4, 2-4) has increasingly leaned on its running game this season and handled the Longhorns while throwing only 12 passes—easily the fewest during Dana Holgorsen’s 60-game coaching tenure.

Howard had as many carries as passing attempts against Texas, utilized on zone-read keepers and designed runs that Holgorsen calls “Q Power.”

The coach joked recently that he “didn’t know how to pronounce ‘Q Power’ five months ago,” yet the play has evolved into a staple of the offense. Howard’s 118 carries are only three behind Rushel Shell for second-most on the team.

“If that box gets emptied out, it’s time for the quarterback to get it up in there,” Holgorsen said.

While Howard hasn’t started crashing meetings running backs room, he has taken cues from Shell and Wendell Smallwood on reading gaps. “Sometimes you have to make certain cuts,” the quarterback said, “and when I miss it, they’ll let me know.”

Freelancing, however, typically is discouraged in the no-frills Q Power, whereby the quarterback keeping the ball—instead of handing off—provides a mathematical advantage.

“It’s like having an extra lineman,” said running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider, who sees Howard learning to follow his blocking back to exploit the soft spot in the defensive front.

“Don’t get outside, just stay behind them guys and it will work it’s way out,” Seider said. “That’s what you want on a power scheme—it’s designed to get you a hard 2, 3, 4 yards. And if you break one, it’s probably going to be a really big one because there ain’t nobody in the middle.”

Though Howard broke a 50-yarder against Oklahoma on an option fake around right end, he’s cognizant of taking what’s given on the inside runs, having learned his lesson about trying to juke second-level defenders.

“I’m not going to outrun anybody side-to-side,” he said, “but if I do burst through that level I can make something happen.”





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