Dustin Garrison

Ex-Houston RB Charles Sims says he will play for WVU

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Thanks largely to some severe recruiting restrictions, former Houston running back Charles Sims was reportedly looking to transfer to either Cal or West Virginia to finish out his college career. And it looks as though the Mountaineers have won the Sims Sweepstakes.

Sims told Mark Berman of Fox 26 Sports that he will transfer to WVU as a grad student and has been in Morgantown since Thursday on an official visit. He will be eligible to play immediately.

“I’m familiar with the offense and I just felt comfortable at West Virginia,” Sims said. “It feels real good to make this decision. It’s the next step in my life.”

Officially, WVU has yet to comment on the addition.

Sims announced in May that he planned on transferring from the Cougars — that coming just months after saying he would return to UH for his senior season. No reason was given for the change of heart, but UH did impose a series of restrictions on Sims that would prevent him from being released to programs in the American Athletic Conference and the state of Texas, as well as any team on Houston’s 2013 schedule. The supplemental draft was also reportedly an option for Sims.

The Mountaineers would be getting a productive back in Sims, who rushed for 851 yards and 11 touchdowns last season in nine games. Sims is also a highly regarded receiver, finishing fifth on the team in receiving with 37 catches for 373 yards and three touchdowns.

WVU struggled running the ball consistently last year, as evident by the fact that receiver Tavon Austin started getting significant carries in November against Oklahoma and finished the year second on the team in rushing yards; injuries to Shawne Alston and Dustin Garrison, who was still coming back from an ACL tear in early 2012, played a role as well. In any case, Sims is an instant upgrade to that unit.

With Sims reportedly on board, the Mountaineers suddenly have good running back and quarterback options coming from recent transfers, as former Florida State QB Clint Trickett joined WVU in early May. The concern for the Mountaineers in 2013 has been primarily focused on the offense and replacing Austin, Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey. 

Big 12 spring games wrap-up

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Recapping the Big 12 spring games from Saturday: 

Iowa State
Iowa State’s offense took off during the Cyclones’ spring game on Saturday, with both offenses combining for nearly 900 yards and 68 points. Grant Rohach completed 19-of-31 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown. Sam Richardson, a starter late last season, completed 9-of-12 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns

— Running backs played especially well yesterday. DeVondrick Nealy rushed 18 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns; Rob Standard had 65 yards on 10 carries; and Aaron Wimberly had 89 yards on 15 carries
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“I had felt the running back position overall had the best spring,” Rhoads said. “DeVondrick Nealy is running as he was capable. He is going into his third season and that is encouraging to see. James White is James White. He runs hard, smart, and knows everything about the offense. Aaron Wimberly showed why we are excited to have him and why we recruited him. Rob Standard is productive every time we play him.”

Oklahoma State
Though Oklahoma State finished the 2012 season with an 8-5 record, it could be considered one of Mike Gundy‘s better coaching jobs in Stillwater. Now, with three quarterbacks with starting experience competing for the No. 1 job this fall, the Cowboys could also be in a position to make a run at another Big 12 title. But Gundy won’t tip his hand as to who will start Week 1: Clint Chelf, Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh. 

“We are not really going to talk about that from this point on,” Gundy said. “There is no reason for us to talk about what our quarterback situation is. I think we have been very open about it throughout the spring. Our players have been very open about it.

— Believe it or not, but Oklahoma State’s defense held the advantage in Saturday’s spring game. Linebacker Caleb Lavey and cornerback Justin Gilbert combined to intercept three passes, one of which went back for a touchdown. Afterward, Gundy pointed out Gilbert’s strong spring.

“Justin played very average last year, and he would be the first to admit that,” Gundy said. “He’s certainly very talented, and he was in position to make plays today, and that’s what he needs to do for us. He needs to be a guy who has several interceptions and runs the ball back. As fast he as he is, if he’s in the right area, he can get the ball off a tip–and that’s what he did today. He played very well.”

— Overall, Gundy was pleased with the defensive effort in its first spring following the departure of DC Bill Young.

“I know the crowd here is not used to it. We dropped some passes on offense that contributed to it, but I’m really excited about the play we’re getting on defense. In the long run, we’re going to move the ball and score a lot of points here, because that’s what we do and who we are, but if we want to consistently compete for a championship, we have to play better on defense,” Gundy explained. “I’m excited about our group, I think their attitude is different and I think they have a chance to be better this season.”

Texas Tech
Tommy Tuberbille is out. Kliff Kingsbury is in. And on Saturday, over 16,000 fans made their way to watch Texas Tech’s spring game. Quarterbacks Michael Brewer and Davis Webb combined for 506 yards and three touchdowns through the air during the scrimmage.

Jace Amaro led all receivers with 11 catches for 80-yards, but Derrick Edwards had the most receiving yards with 101, including an 83-yard touchdown pass from Webb. Senior linebacker Will Smith led the defense with 10 tackles.

“I loved the atmosphere,” Kingsbury said.  “It was a great crowd and our kids were fired up.  I thought the defense came out and really competed well.  Both sides kept it base but their effort was really, really good.”

West Virginia
Coming off a 10-win season with Orange Bowl victory in 2011-12, West Virginia was predicted by some *ahem* to immediately compete for a Big 12 title. Yeah, about that. The Mountaineers went on a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season and finished 7-6. Now with the likes of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey gone to the NFL, WVU must replace the core of its offensive production. Battling to succeed Smith are junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress.

Though both QBs posted solid passing numbers, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson wasn’t happy with their tendency to hold on to the ball. “Taking sacks gets you beat,” Dawson said. “We’re giving up sacks we shouldn’t give up. If you sit in the pocket for three, four, five seconds and get sacked, you can’t do that. If that’s what they’re going to do, then neither one of them can play.”

— Running back Dustin Garrison shined as a freshman in 2011, but was limited last year because of an ACL tear he sustained right before the Orange Bowl. Garrison came back strong in WVU’s spring game with 51 yards on seven carries.

— Though it will be difficult if not downright impossible to replicate what Tavon Austin did for WVU’s offense, receiver Jordan Thompson could emerge as a similar shifty playmaker. Thompson had three touchdowns during yesterday’s game.

— Defense will still be a concern for WVU, but Travis Bell‘s move from safety to corner could be an upgrade for a unit that was picked on often during last season. “He has embraced the change, and he’s excited about it. He can run fast, and he has great conditioning,” Dana Holgorsen said. “It is an experiment that we talked about a week ago, and we moved him. We’ll keep looking into it.”

— The Mountaineers will be sporting some new unis this fall as well.

Thursday morning offseason one-liners

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Ashley Judd is no longer running for the U.S. Senate, so she’s helping us out with the one-liners today… 

WVU will be without RB against Texas

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Looks like Texas won’t be the only team in Austin on Saturday without a running back. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said on his Statewide Sportsline show Thursday evening that senior Shawne Alston would not be traveling to Texas for this Saturday’s game.

We’re going to move on without him this week,” Holgorsen said. “If he’s out there practicing next week, we’ll play him in the game. But he tried to go here for the last couple of days and just wasn’t able. He’s going to continue to get that thigh worked on and we’ll hopefully get him back next week.”

Like Texas, West Virginia uses multiple running backs in its offense. Alston started off the year hot against Marshall, rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns. However, he suffered a thigh bruise the following week against James Madison and has been limited, if not absent altogether, ever since.

Alston’s absence was evident against Maryland as the Mountaineers were only able to rush for 25 yards. WVU ran for 151 yards last week against Baylor, led primarily by sophomore Andrew Buie. Dustin Garrison, the team’s leading rusher from a year ago, is still making his way back from an ACL injury he suffered right before the Orange Bowl.