WVU Run Game Continues To Click Against Tough Foe
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia ran the ball at will a week ago against Texas, gashing the Longhorns for 232 yards on just 33 carries (7.0 yards per). Things were expected to be more difficult against a TCU defensive front that is among the nation’s best, and a scheme that has limited powerful Mountaineer offenses in the past.
There weren’t a ton of splashy runs on the day, although three WVU backs had at least one run of 11 yards or longer, including Kennedy McKoy’s slashing 33-yard scoring jaunt. Instead, it was a commitment to the run game, and continued tough running from all four backs in the Mountaineer rotation, that allowed West Virginia a balanced 40 runs against 41 pass attempts.
“We’re just being more consistent with it and calling it more,” McKoy said after gaining a symmetrical 40 yards on ten carries, including two scores. “The O-Line is doing a great job. It’s been an emphasis the past two weeks in practice. It’s good to get that going.”
The Horned Frogs held WVU down in the early stages of the game, holding the Mountaineers to zero yards on five carries through their first four possessions. Then things began to turn around, with McKoy’s jaunt sparking a four touchdowns in four possessions outburst that put the game firmly in West Virginia’s control.
“We knew they were a good defense, and that they were gonna have some good schemes for us, but we kept fighting and the offense got rolling,” said Martell Pettaway, who produced several violent runs that resulted in 53 yards and another score.
“I don’t know if there’s any rhyme or reason for it, but once we start going we’re hard to stop,” McKoy added. “Once we get in a rhythm, I think it’s hard to stay on the field with us.”
The success coincided with a move to a faster pace. West Virginia ran eight plays at a quick tempo in the second quarter.
“That’s why Spav and Dana were giving hurry calls so they couldn’t get set,” McKoy noted. “When the defense is on their heels, that’s good.”
While McKoy doesn’t have a preference for offensive pace, Pettaway admits it helps him get in a groove.
“I believe we’re kind of better as a tempo team, so I kind of like it better,” he observed. “Being a running back, having a flow, getting into a rhythm is pretty big. Going three and out, only getting the ball one time, that doesn’t help.”
Both noted that the offensive line, which had its struggles earlier in the year, has improved as the season winds down.
“The offensive line has stepped up big the past couple weeks, plan and simple,” Pettaway said. “They are blocking, they are balling out.”