West Virginia’s rushing attack through the first four games has been solid. The team is averaging 189.2 rushing yards per game with Leddie Brown leading the way, carrying the ball 81 times for 515 yards and five touchdowns. Alec Sinkfield has served as a good complimentary back to Brown with 42 carries for 205 yards and three touchdowns. However, the drop off after those two is significant in the ground department for the Mountaineers.
The third leading rusher on the team is redshirt freshman Tony Mathis Jr. On 18 carries this season, he has only been able to compile 55 yards and one touchdown. His lack of statistics is largely due to his lack of playing time, but this tells a different story entirely. With Head Coach Neal Brown only willing to play Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield for the duration of the game, it shows that he is not yet comfortable with any of his potential third options at running back.
This could pose to be an issue as the season goes on. As with every season, there will be wear and tear on many of the featured players. Unfortunately for the running back position, this issue seems to be more prominent. West Virginia needs the third running back option to step up and carry some of the load in the event either Leddie Brown or Alec Sinkfield gets “dinged up” before the end of the season.
The Mountaineers are not lacking talent behind Brown and Sinkfield either. Tony Mathis Jr. has the potential to be a solid back once he develops, and A’Varius Sparrow was one of the top recruits of 2020 for Neal Brown. Sometimes in football you just have to grow up and develop a little faster than usual, and this could most certainly be the case for the Mountaineer running back room later in the season.
A third running back needs to step up. The success of the Mountaineers could potentially be counting on it.