If I had to pick one word to describe the running back position for the Mountaineers, that word would be loaded. Maybe more so than any time since White, Slaton, Devine, and Schmitt were terrorizing defenses for West Virginia. With the departure of Smith, Bailey, and Austin from the passing game, the running backs are going to have to step up until the passing game finds its rhythm.
First, let's look at what the Mountaineers have coming back. Both Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie have started at running back for the Mountaineers. Garrison accumulating nearly 1,000 yards in his first two seasons. Buie is just over 1,000 yards in his first two seasons. Both have also recorded 8 touchdowns in this time. Despite that, neither is expected to be the feature back this year.
That honor will most likely go to Houston transfer Charles Sims. Having already played in Holgorsen's offense at Houston, Sims made the choice to come to West Virginia instead of declaring for the NFL supplemental draft or couple other schools he was looking at. Sims has shown the ability to be productive in the running and passing game. He rushed for nearly 900 yards and had 37 catches for nearly 400 yards in nine games last year. But probably the most telling thing I've read about him comes from Allan Taylor who summed him up thusly, "He’s versatile, experienced and finishing plays like a player hungry just to make that squad."
The other running backs in the mix are Wendell Smallwood and Dreamius Smith. Smith is a mirror image of Sims at 5'11" and 217. He was the #2 junior college running back and #8 overall junior college recruit before pledging to WVU (depending on which recruiting site you follow). Regardless of stars and rankings, by all accounts Smith brings a powerful running style to the backfield. There shouldn't be a drop off when Sims comes out and Smith goes in, if they aren't both already on the filed.
Wendell Smallwood, who will be referred to as Bigwood from now on, impressed me more than anyone else at the spring game this year. He didn't break off any huge runs. But it was the way he ran the ball that impressed me. There is something to be said for waiting on your blocks. But at the same time, you can be too patient and lose that momentum you need to break through arm tackles. I bring it up because Bigwood ran like a man that didn't have time for that crap. He ran that way to make sure he was always falling forward. He enrolled in January out of high school and has impressed everyone on the coaching staff that matters.
Given that we will probably throw the ball a little bit, you have to look at this situation and think there just isn't enough playing time to go around. Let alone carries. Redshirting one or two of the running backs would seem to be a good idea on the surface. But who? For running backs coach JaJuan Seider and the rest of the offensive staff, it's a good problem to have.
More from The Smoking Musket:
- Mountaineer Morning Links: Wednesday (8/21/13) Edition
- West Virginia Football 2013 Season Preview: Defensive Backs
- West Virginia Football 2013 Season Preview: Special Teams
- Mountaineer Morning Links: Tuesday (8/20/13) Edition
- Mountaineer Morning Links: Monday (8/19/13) Edition
- West Virginia Mountaineers Football 2013: One TEAM, One Motto - Dougity Dog Video