The quiet man is having a quiet season for West Virginia University.
And he’s doing it … what else, quietly.
Charles Sims was touted as a man who was going to make a lot of noise for the Mountaineers at running back this year after transferring in from Houston in the off-season, a player who had done big things there when Dana Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator.
A running back who really doesn’t like to do much talking, Sims has been about the best offensive weapon WVU has as a runner and pass catcher, but at a school that has produced Steve Slaton, Amos Zereoue, Avon Cobourne, Noel Devine, Quincy Wilson and Kay-Jay Harris, he hasn’t yet offered the spectacular things of which he is said to be capable.
They may be coming, though.
“The big play is coming; it just take a lot of patience,” he said. “Patience. It is coming.”
Sims is having a decent year. He leads WVU in rushing with 490 yards, averaging 4.9 per carry, with four touchdowns and is tied for being the leading receiver with 19 catches for 179 yards, 9.4 per catch.
But there isn’t the flash, the hold-your-breath feeling you would get every time the breakaway runners of the past touched the ball.
Ja’Juan Seider, the running backs coach, is trying to guide him through this.
“Like I told him, don’t press, keep doing what you’re doing. You’ve got nothing to prove. Just play through the system,” he said.
There is truth that he has nothing to prove. At Houston, he was an All-Conference USA performer as an all-around running back who caught passes as well as he ran the ball, just as he is doing here.
It’s just the situation is different.
“A lot of it is not him; it’s what the defenses are doing. Until we can consistently throw the ball down the field – which we have started doing the past couple of games – we can’t back the safeties off,” Seider said.
The passing game has not put fear into defenses, which has allowed the safeties to creep up to the line of scrimmage and smother the running game.
And that wears on an eager running back.
“He has been close to breaking one so many times. Baylor, coming out at halftime, he finally got that crease, and you saw what he can do in open space,” Seider said, referring to a 39-yard run that was his longest of the season.
That, however, makes a running back even more anxious.
“The thing is you have to keep your guys from trying to press. Just make the play you are supposed to make,” Seider said.
But there is another side to it, too.
“Every now and then you have to make someone miss. We’re starting to do it,” Seider said. “I told them this week, we need to start running consistently like we did in the second half against Baylor, consistently as a whole group. We have to stop trying to make the perfect play and just try to make something happen … period.”
Perfection doesn’t come along very often, and Sims is buying into that.
“It takes patience to be able to break off the big play. Once you start getting into the flow of the game, moving the ball and playing fast, things open up. Throwing the ball deep helps a lot by getting the safeties out of the box,” Sims said.
And, Seider says, it’s unfair to expect Sims to do what Slaton and Devine and Wilson did because the system isn’t built for that.
“You look back at that system and this system. It was designed to put up big numbers in the run game,” Seider noted. “You were handed outside zone most times in a game. The scheme was different. It was geared more to … what it was before was a controlled wing-T. Even in your two-minute offense, you still ran plays inside, outside zone, zone read. … it put so much pressure on the defense.
“You didn’t see exotic defenses because everyone was so worried about Pat White or Jarrett Brown pulling the ball and running with it themselves.”
But Holgorsen’s offense is built off the passing game without a threat of run from the quarterback. It is a different animal.
“Here it’s more predicated on us throwing the ball down field, winning matchups to get those safeties to start helping over the top. I think you’ll start seeing in the next six games, you’ll start seeing better plays,” Seider said.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.
The quiet man is having a quiet season for West Virginia University.
- Bob Herzel
HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules
At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.
HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing
The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.
Bussie looks forward to WNBA
On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball
It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Gyorko, Padres agree to extension
Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved
From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.
WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI
There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball
The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.
WVU baseball drops seventh straight game
One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.
Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback
Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.
- More Bob Herzel Headlines
- HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules