Martell Pettaway Looking Forward For WVU
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – It’s a well-worn story by now, how Martell Pettaway shed his expected redshirt in Game 11 of the 2016 season against Iowa State. The treu freshman from Detroit, Mich., ran 30 times for 181 yards to help WVU break open a game that was 21-16 at the half and turn it into a 49-19 laugher. While Pettaway answers questions about that game constantly (“I was pretty tired afterward”, he admits), he’s more interested in looking forward to this season. Barring another rash of injuries, he’s not going to be expected to carry the mail two dozen or more times per game, but he does see a role developing for him in West Virginia’s game plan.
“They call me the bruiser so I guess that’s what they envision me as. I’m pretty physical,” Pettaway noted with a knowing smile. “All three coaches (Dana Holgorsen, Jake Spavital and Tony Dews) call me that. Goal line situations, they call my number, third and short. When they call my number I just go in there and do what I can.”
That’s a critical void that WVU must fill, as results in those sorts of situations have been less than stellar over the past couple of years. Disdaining giving the ball to a fullback, West Virginia has struggled to convert third and ones or third and twos, and also found problems punching it in close to the goal line. Pettaway, who now packs 210 pounds on his five foot, nine inch frame, has the ability to be a thundering runner who can get low, win the leverage wars and knock foes back for an extra yard or two. If he can do that, he’ll be an integral part of the Mountaineer attack.
He’s not going to settle for just that one role, though. He noted he has worked hard to improve his pass catching over the offseason — exercising skills that haven’t been utilized for a while. He played in a spread offense where he got the ball through the air at times in his first year of high school, but since then wasn’t a part of the passing game. He’s not to the level of a Kennedy McKoy or Tevin Bush, but if he can get to the point where he doesn’t have to come off the field when the Mountaineers want to attack with swing passes or something to a back out of the slot, he’ll give himself even more chances to stay in the game.
While the rehash of that Iowa State game continues, the sophomore runner chooses to look at it as a learning experience, not as an unqualified success, while also concentrating on increasing his consistency out of the backfield.
“There were a few misreads. Some of those big plays could have been bigger. I cut a couple of them back to soon,” he observed. “[In the passing game], it’s mostly focus on looking the ball all the way in.”
With that mindset, it’s not a surprise to note that Pettaway doesn’t think that he has it made. With Justin Crawford, McKoy, Bush and Alec Sinkfield also in the picture, keeping his performance up is a key goal of the fall.
“You have to go 100% every drill, every practice. It’s a talented backfield. You do have to worry about [falling off].”
Given the way he’s approaching this season, though, there seems little danger of that happening.