West Virginia run coordinator Chad Scott broke down each running back at his press conference on Thursday.
“He’s doing really well,” said Scott. “He’s running the ball really well, seeing things really well. Pass pro, run game. He’s catched the ball really well in the backfield…”
”His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield has been very impressive thus far, throughout camp.”
Mathis figures to get the bulk of the carries this season and currently is listed as No. 1 in the depth chart. He’s listed as a preseason Phil Steele All-Big 12 Fourth Team and is coming off a season in he which he backed up current Los Angeles Charger Leddie Brown.
As a back-up for Brown, he ran for 312 yards on 72 carries averaging 4.3 yards per attempt. He also caught seven passes for 29 yards and figures to be a key part of the passing attack this season.
The other top back for West Virginia is Justin Johnson Jr. The true sophomore is currently listed behind Mathis on the depth chart, but could take that role by season’s end.
“He had a phenomenal camp,” said Scott. “And he carried that on to the summer time. Four days in, he’s done a phenomenal job too. Seeing his level of confidence right now, he’s playing with a great level of confidence.”
Johnson came to West Virginia last season as a four-star recruit on Rivals. He played sparingly, appearing in eight of 12 games and only seeing 77 total snaps. He only averaged 3.8 yards per carry, but in a very small sample size of just 24 carries for 90 yards.
Scott also talked about the “big step” that Jaylen Anderson has taken and the move of CJ Donaldson from tight end to running back, praising his versatility. All those comments can be heard in his press conference.
For the running backs as a whole, Scott echoed sentiments that both head coach Neal Brown and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said in their press conference.
Those being that the team needs to run better against their tougher defensive opponents and that the running back group needs to do a better job at pass protecting. But he is very comfortable with the group that he has.
”Very comfortable,” said Scott. “Those guys are really good players. They’re quality. We got to keep them healthy. That’s my biggest focus is just making sure we can get through this camp and stay healthy.”