When the West Virginia Mountaineers lost the talents of quarterback Geno Smith and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, there was considerable concern about how well the Mountaineers’ offense would bounce back in 2013. That trio was one of the most explosive in all of college football and was the engine that drove West Virginia to their fast start last season. Dana Holgorsen doesn’t need to panic just yet, however, because a new trio will step up to lead WVU in 2013. This time, however, it will be a trio of running backs.
Despite their air-raid tendencies in 2012, West Virginia thrives on being able to run the football. With leading rusher Andrew Buie (850 yards) returning with Dustin Garrison (250 yards) behind him, the Mountaineers felt pretty good about their chances to run the ball in 2013. When Charles Sims transferred in from the Houston Cougars, however, they became confident that they would have one of the strongest backfields in a running-back heavy Big 12 next fall.
Buie and Garrison were overlooked in 2012, but their contributions were critical to the success of the Mountaineers’ offense last season. Both of them are shifty backs with the ability to catch the football out of the backfield and make defenders miss in the open field. Their playmaking ability on the outside was already going to make the WVU running attack dangerous, but they lacked the bulk to be a real threat between the tackles.
That’s where Sims fills in. While at Houston, Sims showed he could be a complete back, running the ball inside and outside while also catching passes out of the backfield, earning the tough yards in the trenches while also breaking off big plays. He will add some bulk to the backfield, giving Holgorsen the inside-outside combination he needs to get his running game going next fall while also protecting himself from injury by being part of a rotation.
It likely won’t be the same kind of offense early on for West Virginia in 2013 as they break in a new quarterback and search for playmaking receivers. But the Mountaineers can rely on the running game next fall to lead their offense with one of the most talented running back trios in the conference.