The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

August 10, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: Believe it or not, Big 12 can run

MORGANTOWN — It’s time to let loose a dirty little bit of news that the Big 12 has tried very hard to keep a secret.

Come close and I’ll whisper it to you.


They run the ball in the Big 12, too.

Got that? Now don’t tell anyone, but they run it so well that there actually are coaches here at West Virginia University, defensive coaches, who are trying to devise ways of stopping the run as well as the pass.

“We have put a heavy emphasis on stopping the run,” co-defensive coordinator Gary Patterson said at interviews the other day. “To win the Big 12 and be a champion anywhere you have to stop the run.”

When he said that, those around him went dead silent.

It was as if he said “There’s life on Mars” or Kim Kardashian looks the way she does due to Photoshopping pictures of her.

Honestly, though, that’s the way things are being taught at Mountaineer Field.

Listen to Sam linebacker Isaiah Bruce.

“If we can stop the run and make them one-dimensional, that will help our chances to win the game,” Bruce said.

Run? In the Big 12?

Isn’t that the league that has had the Heisman winner last year in quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor and the Biletnikoff Award winner the past two years in Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State?

Isn’t this a passing league, one in which last year Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner, finished fourth in average passing yards per game.

Run? The league ran for 23,729 yards last year.

It threw for 34,292 yards.

So how can anyone say that stopping the run is crucial?

“If you make them think that they can’t run the ball, then you know they are going to throw it,” Patterson said. “Now you have the offense playing into your hands. Now you can pressure and do some things to attack the offense.”

Call Patterson old fashioned, if you will, which in this neck of woods is as big an insult as anyone can toss at you, but he really believes that stopping the run is crucial to defensive success.

“The one thing in football that hasn’t changed is you have to stop the run,” he said.

But do they run the ball enough in the Big 12 to make that important?

“I think it’s a little bit of misconception when you talk about the Big 12,” Patterson said. “All those teams can run the ball effectively. It’s not some pass-happy league like the Western Athletic Conference used to be. There’s a lot of spread offenses but it’s almost like an illusion, they are still running the football.”

OK, it isn’t like Gale Sayers is at Kansas or Steve Owen is at Oklahoma or Tom Osbourne is running the Nebraska offense, but they do have some good runners in the league, not the least of which is WVU’s Dustin Garrison and Shawne Alston.

True the top three rushers are gone, Baylor’s Terrance Ganaway the rushing champion with 1,547 yards and 21 touchdowns having graduated and second place Henry Josey of Missouri and third-place Cyrus Gray of Texas A&M having moved to the SEC.

But Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle, who rushed for 1,045 yards is back as is Kansas State’s Collin Klein, who had 1,216 rushing yards.

That means it certainly isn’t a pass only league … just a pass first league.

The Mountaineers are confident, even though they have yet to try out their new defense, that they have what it takes to stop the running game they will see in the Big 12.

Francis, for example, comes into the season bubbling over with confidence.

“I think I have played against the run pretty well during my career,” he said. “I played against LSU last year and was able to make about 10 tackles against a team with a 285-pound fullback.

“My weight was lower back then. Either way that will not make a difference. I believe I can stand in there against running teams. It is up to the coaches to decide how we are going to attack that.”

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • 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.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • 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.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos