The stories of Dana Holgorsen being an all-out passing machine are in the past. The air raid offense of 2017 is fake news, The 2017 Mountaineers plan to run the football and run it well.
Apparently it’s not much of a secret that the WVU football team will be sticking it to the ground in favor of the pass. Virginia Tech might actually be expecting it on Sunday at FedEx Field.
In his weekly press conference, Dana Holgorsen told reporters, “Everyone knows we’re going to run the ball.”
Last year, the Mountaineers ran the ball considerably more than they passes. There were 11 players who recorded at least one carry in 2016 and just two quarterbacks who attempted passes. In 13 games, the WVU football team had 574 rushes and 409 pass attempts.
Through the air, the Mountaineers did manage to get more yards with 3,343 compared to 3,277 rushing yards. This year, those numbers will likely be flipped.
The team will still run the ball more than they pass it, even with stereotypical passing QB Will Grier now taking over. The Mountaineers are just blessed with a stable of running backs to carry it more.
And, these great running backs have gotten even better.
Last year, Justin Crawford tallied 1,1177 rushing yards on 162 carries. He will likely touch the ball more than 200 times in 2017, so he could easily be flirting with the 2,000-yard mark. No WVU rusher has ever reached 2,000 yards in a single season. Steve Slaton has the most with 1,744 in 2006.
For Crawford to get close to Slaton’s mark, he will have to have great blocking from his young offensive line. With only two seniors, the offensive line will have to come together quickly to get the offense going.
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Along with Crawford, Kennedy McKoy, Martell Pettaway, Elijah Wellman and Tevin Bush will also receive a lot of carries.
The only player the Mountaineers may miss from last season is Rushell Shell, who finished with 514 yards after playing in 10 games.
The running game hasn’t looked as promising as this is Dana Holgorsen’s six years with the Mountaineers. There is a lot of potential in the backfield and the fact the Holgorsen is ready to showcase this rushing talent is a real sign of maturity on his part as a growing head coach.
The Mountaineers will need both a solid running game and passing game to finally have the potent offense it takes to compete for a Big 12 Championship.
By Holgorsen announcing that his team plans to run the ball, the opposition may know what to expect. But even having a small glimmer of that possibility won’t be enough to slow down the Mountaineers.
Justin Crawford will have a huge season and those following behind him will follow suit.
With Will Grier, the Mountaineers will have great deep ball potential, but the heart and soul will be the running game.