MORGANTOWN — Two West Virginia operating backs wanted a wake-up name final week.
Main rusher CJ Donaldson and proficient freshman Jahiem White weren’t having the form of seasons they’re able to when the staff traveled to Orlando to play UCF final Saturday.
Donaldson, who loved a breakout freshman marketing campaign final season, had not run for greater than 70 yards in 4 straight video games. He was nonetheless getting the identical quantity of labor, averaging greater than 16 carries per recreation, however the large performs had disappeared from his recreation.
White had run for simply 73 yards within the earlier 5 video games mixed as he struggled to get on the sector. Dangerous follow habits stored White off the sector to the purpose the place he didn’t get a single carry in two contests and had only one in one other.
One thing wanted to alter, and alter it did. Donaldson and White each had their greatest video games of the season towards the Knights, dashing for 121 and 85 yards, respectively.
The staff despatched a message to Donaldson by bumping him from the beginning lineup.
“Completely it was a message and he did get the message,” offensive coordinator Chad Scott stated. “You’ve all the time obtained to do what’s greatest for the soccer staff. He completely did get the message and I like the way in which he responded.”
Not beginning was simply to ship a message, as Donaldson nonetheless led the staff with 17 carries, nevertheless it did wake him up.
“It made me have a actuality verify and perceive that I’m not being productive,” the sophomore stated. “I’m on this soccer staff to interrupt tackles and run the soccer onerous and after I’m not doing that, I’m not serving to the staff out.”
Donaldson ran for a season-high 121 yards and the big-play component returned to his recreation as he broke off runs of 21 and 32 yards.
“The truth is that it’s a must to be productive,” he stated. “It’s positively a sport that you just like to play, however on the finish of the day, it comes right down to enterprise and I wasn’t being productive.”
For White, Scott turned his shadow at follow all through the week, following him round nonstop and ensuring he was doing all the pieces proper. That allowed him to get on the sector, the place his pure capability took over as he had runs of 11, 19 and 32 yards to complete with 85 on the bottom.
“He had his greatest week of preparation. I used to be extra happy with the truth that he solely had one damaging play,” Scott stated. “He was 95% from a self-discipline standpoint. I’m going to try this for the remainder of the season.”
Whereas the coaches appeared to press all the proper buttons to get Donaldson and White going, it was one thing the gamers themselves did that actually caught Scott’s eye.
“Jaheim’s worst day final week was Saturday morning of the walk-through,” he relayed. “First play, one thing he had finished all week, he couldn’t get lined up. Ran it once more, couldn’t get lined up once more.”
These had been the form of errors that had stored White off the sector in earlier weeks. This time, nevertheless, Donaldson took it upon himself to make the repair.
“It’s Saturday morning earlier than the soccer recreation and CJ stated ‘Coach, I’ve obtained him, don’t say nothing to him, I’ve obtained him,’” Scott stated. “He went over and stated ‘That is the form of stuff that’ll preserve you off the soccer discipline, you’ve obtained to lock in, man.’
“I assumed that was an enormous step. Not one of the coaches obtained upset, we obtained the play proper and we went on and ran the subsequent play. That’s the form of management you need, the form of management you want.”
Consistency is essential
Even in the course of the weeks when Donaldson and White had been seemingly caught in impartial, WVU’s dashing recreation by no means slowed down. The Mountaineers presently lead the nation with 11-straight video games of dashing for at the very least 140 yards.
“It’s a stat that stands out and we’re happy with, however we’ve obtained to stick with it now,” head coach Neal Brown stated.
The final time WVU failed to achieve 140 yards was practically one 12 months in the past to the day of this Saturday’s recreation towards BYU (7 p.m./FOX), on Nov. 5, 2022, when the Mountaineers managed simply 76 yards towards Iowa State. The Mountaineers closed out the ultimate three video games of 2022 operating the ball effectively and have finished the identical this complete season.
“It’s an entire staff deal. It’s a testomony to (offensive line) Coach (Matt) Moore and the fellows up entrance,” Scott stated. “It’s additionally a testomony to (quarterback Garrett) Garrett and the quarterback spot not taking damaging performs.”
The success can’t be attributed to anyone single particular person.
“We’ve had some accidents up entrance so there’s been form of a transferring bunch up there,” Brown stated. “We’ve had a number of completely different tight ends over these 11 video games. A lot of operating backs have been the main rusher over that point. And we’ve performed a number of quarterbacks.”
Over these 11 video games, Donaldson was the staff’s main rusher 4 instances, Greene has finished it 3 times and Jaylen Anderson did it twice. White led the staff as soon as earlier this season and backup quarterback Nicco Marchiol even led the Mountaineers in dashing on one event.