Week after week, game after game, Joe DeForest and West Virginia’s defense has had to fend off potent passing attacks. It hasn’t been pretty, to say the least, but this week, the Mountaineers will be facing a drastically different kind of offense. Kansas will come to town touting this thing called “a running game” – strange words for a Big 12 team.
Barber is looking forward to the matchup between KU's run game and WVU's run defense.
“They have become more of a running team,” said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen. “They are going to lean on their two good running backs – James Sims and Tony Pierson. They are a top-20 team in the country when it comes to rushing offense.”
In fact, the Jayhawks come into this weekend’s game ranked 19th in the country averaging 216.6 yards per game. James Sims missed the first three games of the year, but has secured his role as “the man” in the backfield.
“Their starter, Sims, is going to be a 1,000-yard guy after he didn’t play in the first two or three games,” said Holgorsen. “They are going to give it him quite a bit because he is one of their better players.”
“I didn’t know until this week that they’re actually first in the Big 12 in rushing,” said Barber, who has 25 tackles this season. “I’m pretty excited to see how we will do since we’ve played well against the run this year.”
Barber is well aware of the skills that Sims brings to the game, having rushed for 956 yards and eight touchdowns this year.
“Their running back is really patient; he makes guys miss,” said Barber. “He’s also a pretty big back. He’s fast, and he also has a lot of power. He’s a great back and a great runner. He reads his line really well. We just have to tackle him, and we’ll be alright.”
Sims isn’t the only back the Mountaineers have to worry about, though. Tony Pierson (730 yards, four TDs) and Taylor Cox (461 yards, three TDs) have each had 100-yard rushing games this year, and Pierson ran for 202 against Texas Tech.
His play-making ability has caught the eye of Dana Holgorsen.
“The Pierson kid looks like Tavon (Austin) because he plays a lot of different positions,” said Holgorsen on Tuesday. “They get him the ball in a variety of ways.”
Holgorsen says the team will be prepared, though, because this game has a lot of meaning to a lot of people.
“For 22 of our guys, this will be the last home game that they will play for West Virginia,” said the head coach. “They are excited about it, and I am excited about preparing them for it.”