By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
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.