While the West Virginia football team has struggled to get the ball moving on the ground during the first three weeks of the season, the Kansas Jayhawks have had no such problems.
Thanks to the efforts of Khalil Herbert and Pooka Williams Jr., the Jayhawks have rushed for 605 yards so far this season. Both running backs are averaging more than 100 yards per game.
West Virginia defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said the duo will be a handful for his group to contain.
“They can take the ball anywhere on the field and make it a touchdown,” Koenning said. “They’re good enough to score from anywhere on the field.”
Herbert, a senior from Florida, is the team leader with 357 net rushing yards. He is ranked second in the country as he averages 9.9 yards per carry.
Despite having negative receiving yards, Herbert is still ranked fifth in the Big 12 Conference in all-purpose yards.
Williams, a sophomore who has only played in two of the Jayhawks’ three games, has tallied 220 net yards on the ground thus far this season while adding in one touchdown.
West Virginia will attempt to limit the Kansas ground game with a run defense that is currently ranked at No. 100 out of 130 teams in rushing yards allowed.
One positive that the Mountaineers’ defense will have coming into Saturday’s matchup is that, against NC State, they allowed their least amount of rushing yards all season: the WVU defense held the Wolfpack running game to 144 yards during week three.
Senior defensive lineman Reese Donahue, who has matched up against the Jayhawks’ duo previously, believes they rank among some of the top running backs he has faced during his four-year tenure at West Virginia.
“They’re just like all great backs. Both of them are very, very agile, very quick. I think they’re going to be a tall task for us this week,” Donahue said.
“They’re going to be a good challenge for us and we’ve talked all week — the two best backs in the Big 12 are likely both at Kansas.”
Koenning is expecting trying to contain the duo to be a tough challenge.
“It’s going to be all we got to try and corral these guys.”