In 2019, the West Virginia rushing attack was very poor to say the least. They had a few positive moments, but they were never able to string together good drives on the ground to form any sort of consistency. Part of this was on the offensive line's insufficient play, but a lot of the blame is placed on the backs for not hitting the holes, too much hesitation and not being able to break off of tackles.
To further show how bad the running game was, the Mountaineers ranked 128th out of 130 teams in the FBS averaging 73.4 yards per game, which was only higher than Washington State and Akron.
This offseason, the coaching staff has put an emphasis on improving the run blocking up front and getting more out of their backs. Following Thursday's practice, head coach Neal Brown talked about how pleased he has been with the progress being made.
“Leddie Brown ran the ball really hard - and that’s been the case really since Saturday,” Brown said. “I’m kind of excited about him, and the week he’s had. I think it was an important week for him, and he’s been productive.”
Leddy Brown will almost certainly be the team's starting running back and could have to turn into a three down back if the younger guys aren't producing. One of those younger guys that is looking for an expanded role this season is redshirt freshman Tony Mathis.
“The more reps he gets, the better he is,” Brown said. “He’s one of those running backs – and Leddie is a lot like this too – they get better with more carries. He’s doing a better job of keeping his shoulders square.”
Mathis had four carries for 14 yards, three catches for 16 yards and a touchdown in his collegiate debut against Texas Tech.
To be honest, there's really no room for the Mountaineers to be worse than they were in 2019, so the only way is to go up. The big question is going to be how much of an improvement will there be?
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