MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With WVU’s woes running the ball continuing almost all season, head coach Neal Brown is going to shake up the running back rotation as season’s end nears.
The worst rushing attack in the Big 12 failed again last week, running for only 14 yards during WVU’s 17-14 loss at Baylor Thursday.
To add injury to insult, Kennedy McKoy, the team’s second-leading rusher, was injured after taking a shot to the helmet on a kickoff return and is questionable for Saturday according to head coach Neal Brown.
With or without McKoy Saturday, Brown said true freshman Tony Mathis is going to play for the first time this season.
“I’m hopefully Kennedy is going to go,” Brown said Tuesday. “Mathis is going to play. Leddie (Brown) will play, Mathis will play and Kennedy will continue to play if he’s ready to go.”
Mathis, a freshman out of Orlando, Florida, impressed coaches during the team’s most recent bye week and Brown has been planning on using him as the season winds down. With four games left on the schedule, Mathis could play in every remaining game and maintain his redshirt status.
McKoy was rushed for 207 yards on 71 attempts this season, trailing only Brown, who has run for 211 yards on 60 carries. WVU’s 631 team rushing yards and 2.6 yard average are both worst in the Big 12. No other conference team has less than 1,200 rushing yards or an average lower than 4.4.
The running back rotation to begin the year was made up of Brown, McKoy, Alec Sinkfield and Martell Pettaway. After an injury and slow start to the season, Pettaway decided to redshirt to preserve a season of eligibility.
Sinkfield has started a few games at running back this season but has only carried the ball 17 times. He was the team’s primary punt returner and participated in kickoff returns, but freshman receiver Winston Wright will handle all kickoff returns going forward after a return touchdown against Baylor.
How early or often Mathis will be used and McKoy’s status for Saturday are both unknown as WVU’s coaching staff continues to search for answers in the running game.