Stoops expects WVU to use running game

MORGANTOWN – Even West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was bothered by how little his team passed the ball in its season-opening win against William & Mary.

Holgorsen, known for the passing numbers his quarterbacks have accumulated using this high-powered offense, noted that the Mountaineers only threw the football 27 times, compared to running it 44 times.

“I don’t care about stats, but we have to be more balanced,” Holgorsen said. “What the heck’s going on here? I’m talking about balance, and everybody says it’s an air raid and we throw the ball 80 or 90 percent of the time. I’m talking about balance because we can’t get the ball in the air 50 percent of the time. We’re talking about throwing the ball 30 percent of the time. That’s embarrassing. We’re going to correct that. That’s for certain.”

But last year, WVU was able to run the ball against Oklahoma when it shifted Tavon Austin into the backfield.

The receiver-turned-runner turned in one of the most historic performances in Mountaineer history, rushing for a school record 344 yards. He finished with nearly 600 all-purpose yards, once kick returns and receiving totals were tossed in.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops expects more of the same when his team tangles with WVU at 7 p.m. Saturday in Norman, Okla., in a game that will be nationally televised by Fox.

“I know Dana likes to run the football, and he ran it on us a year ago. That will be a big factor in this game again,” Stoops said. “Dana doesn’t change his system much. At the end of the day, he shouldn’t.”

Stoops said the Mountaineers looked “pretty vanilla” against William & Mary, but expects a different flavor this week.

“I know we won’t see a vanilla scheme in what they’re doing against us,” Stoops said. “It will be different, so we’ll prepare for a lot of what we saw last year.”

Charles Sims, who ran for 120 yard to lead WVU’s rushing attack, could also be a factor in the passing game. He said it doesn’t matter how the football comes to rest in his hands.

“If it’s in the game plan, I’ll get more involved in the passing game,” he said. “It’s up to the coaches.”

What WVU does depends on what Oklahoma gives them, running back Dreamius Smith said.

“If they give us the pass, we’re going to pass,” he said. “If they give us the run, we’re going to run. We’re just going to try to execute off of that and take what the defense gives us.”