Before the start of the 2017 season, West Virginia fans had high expectations for senior running back Justin Crawford after he finished the 2016 season 3rd in the Big XII in rushing yards (1184) and was 2nd in yards per carry (7.3).
Those lofty expectations, however, have not been fulfilled. At least not entirely.
Crawford – having already 7 touchdowns through 9 games – has found paydirt 3 more times than he did all of last season. However, his 786 yards through 9 games this season places him 3rd in the conference and he is currently rubbing elbows with last year’s pace.
After a handful of disappointing outings, the Mountaineers’ rushing game came alive in Saturday’s win, going for a total of 208 yards with Crawford gaining 102. Can Crawford use his performance against Iowa State to springboard his production for the rest of the season and eclipse his marks from a year ago?
He has four games remaining to do so.
It will take more than just Crawford toting the rock. The offensive line will have their work cut out for them as well. In the 3 games prior to the Iowa State contest, the Mountaineers only totaled 226 yards on the ground and Crawford suffered through his worst three-game stretch as a Mountaineer.
In order for Crawford to surpass his totals from last season, the senior must average at least 100 yards rushing in the final four games of the season:
Kansas State – The Wildcats’ defense only gives up 122 rushing yards per game. And seeing how the Mountaineers will have to travel to Manhattan, it’s difficult to see Crawford gaining 100 yards in this game.
Texas – The Longhorns have improved in each game they’ve played – especially on defense. They are giving up about 117 yards on the ground, and once again, it will be very tough for Crawford to reach the 100 mark.
Oklahoma – If history tends to repeat itself, Crawford is primed for another big day against the Sooners. Last season, Crawford gashed Oklahoma for 331 yards. This season, the Sooners have allowed 150 yards rushing per contest. If Crawford can once again exploit the Oklahoma defense, he could very well best the 1,184 yards he posted last season.
Bowl Game– Now that West Virginia is 100% playing in a bowl game, this could be an opportunity for Crawford to pad his stats. Depending on who the Mountaineers’ opponent will be, he could use this game to eclipse 1,184 yards.
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