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Sturdy offensive line permitting WVU to run the ball at will

MORGANTOWN — With out beginning quarterback Garrett Greene final Saturday, nearly each one of many 61,000 folks inside Milan Puskar Stadium knew what West Virginia was going to do with the soccer — hand it off to CJ Donaldson.

The highly effective sophomore operating again carried the ball 18 occasions within the Mountaineers’ 17-6 victory. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry regardless of Pitt mainly figuring out that Donaldson was getting the ball on virtually each play.

So how did he handle to rack up 102 yards and rating a vital second-half landing?

“Have you ever seen my entrance 5? They must cease them first,” mentioned Donaldson, referring to WVU’s offensive line. “All I’ve to do is run behind my entrance 5 and I’m going to get that further yard. I really like operating behind that entrance 5, they’re just like the Nice Wall of China.”

Or the Nice Wall of Morgantown, maybe.

These entrance 5 — left to proper, Wyatt Milum, Tomas Rimac, Zach Frazier, Brandon Yates and Doug Nester — have been the lifeblood of WVU’s offense up to now this season. Even when factoring in misplaced sack yardage, the Mountaineers are averaging 4.3 yards per carry and simply over 200 speeding yards per sport (200.3) by way of three video games.

“Nice groups do what it’s they do though groups know that’s what they’ve bought to do to win ballgames,” offensive coordinator Chad Scott mentioned. “After we misplaced Garrett, they’d a reasonably good concept that we weren’t going to have the ability to move the ball as a lot as we wished to and we have been nonetheless capable of management the clock, win down within the trenches, run the soccer and be efficient operating the soccer. That’s what good groups do.”

WVU ran the ball 51 occasions in opposition to Pitt, in comparison with simply 11 move makes an attempt, and nonetheless managed 151 yards on the bottom.

“It was like operating in opposition to a goal-line protection each single time,” Scott mentioned. “For (Donaldson) to have the ability to discover yards past what was blocked is admittedly good.”

Groups know what’s coming, too. The Mountaineers are operating the ball twice as a lot as they’re passing it by way of three video games — 140 runs to 70 passes.

“They’re going to come back out they usually’re going to run the soccer,” mentioned Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire, who will face WVU this Saturday (3:30 p.m./ESPN+). “They’re going to run the soccer and everytime you suppose they’re going to move the ball, they’re going to run the soccer once more.”

At its present tempo, WVU would end with over 2,400 speeding yards this season, its most since 2016. 

Increase the offensive line has been a years-long venture for Scott, head coach Neal Brown and offensive line coach Matt Moore, who all got here to WVU in 2019. 4 of the 5 starters have been recruited and developed in-house, and Nester transferred in after solely two seasons at Virginia Tech. 4 of the 5 are of their third 12 months as full-time starters.

“We have been all fairly younger after we first began and I simply suppose that has helped lots,” Nester mentioned. “Having the ability to develop and develop as these younger gamers till now we’re in our third season has been incredible.

“Enjoying subsequent to anyone you’re been enjoying with for years, it’s simple to understand how they’re going to play a sure play or what their method is like.”

The group is anchored by Frazier, a preseason All-American, at heart with Nester and Milum as all-conference-caliber tackles.

The extra WVU continues to run the ball this season, the extra groups will anticipate it, however Nester mentioned the offensive line welcomes the problem.

“There’s nothing higher than with the ability to run the ball though they know you’re operating the ball,” Nester mentioned. “I feel it’s one of the best feeling on this planet once they’re loading the field and we’re nonetheless capable of produce yardage.”

WVU is third within the Huge 12 in speeding makes an attempt, simply three behind chief Cincinnati, and Texas Tech is within the backside half of Huge 12 defenses in each yards per carry (3.9) and yards per sport (143).

WVU solely averaged 2.8 yards per carry in a 48-10 loss to the Purple Raiders final season. Scott mentioned a giant a part of that dismal efficiency was the offensive line not executing, one thing they hope to vary on Saturday.

“Once I say not executing, it was not with the ability to management the trenches like we did final week. Not with the ability to even pitch and catch it,” Scott mentioned. “They know (they must be higher), they completely comprehend it.”

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