MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - It has become increasingly obvious as West Virginia's season goes along that as Charles Sims goes, so goes the Mountaineers' offense.
While so much has been made of WVU's revolving door at quarterback, the fact is that the team is at about .500 with all three as a starter - 1-1 with Paul Millard, 1-1 with Ford Childress and 2-3 with Clint Trickett.
Sims? Well, in West Virginia's four wins, the transfer running back from Houston is averaging 112.5 yards rushing and has scored five touchdowns. In WVU's five losses, Sims is averaging 60.8 yards rushing and has scored twice.
Perhaps even more telling, though, is this: In those four wins Sims has been handed the ball just under 21 times a game, and in the five losses he's gotten it just over 12 times per contest.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out a correlation. Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen admitted as much this week.
"Probably because we gave it to him a good bit,'' Holgorsen said when asked about Sims' 189-yard all-purpose (running and receiving) day last week at TCU. "He's been our most productive player every game. He's such a versatile player that we're able to do a lot of different things with him.''
In truth, however, the numbers regarding Sims' workload and productivity are a bit misleading. It's far too simple to say that in WVU's losses Sims wasn't handed the ball enough. The fact is, in those five losses he has averaged 5.2 receptions per game as opposed to 2.5 in the wins. Sims' total touches - rushes and receptions combined - are still quite different in wins (23.5) and losses (17.5), but the difference isn't quite as stark.
There is also a common-sense aspect. At least late in losses, West Virginia isn't running the ball, while in wins it is.
The bottom line is that Holgorsen insists that every week he attempts to figure out the best way to use Sims. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
"You go in there and game plan and try to figure out the best way to utilize him when you've got a guy that can do that many different things,'' Holgorsen said. "That's not always going to be just giving it to him 24 times. We felt like that was the best thing to do against TCU and he took advantage of that.''
What it will be tonight when West Virginia hosts Texas at Mountaineer Field remains to be seen. A year ago, in a 48-45 win over the Longhorns in Austin, Holgorsen gave the ball to Andrew Buie repeatedly and with great success. Buie ran 31 times for 207 yards and caught three passes for 66 more.
Can Sims have the same kind of success? Well, even though the coordinator is different, Holgorsen said it looks a lot like the same Texas defense.
"It's a lot of the same guys we were looking at when we played them last year,'' Holgorsen said. "They have tremendous experience and we all understand how talented Texas is when you're able to recruit the kids that they're able to recruit.''
West Virginia, though, has a pretty good one, too, in Sims. Regardless of how he's used, he figures to play a big role in the outcome.
"I challenge you to find anybody across the country that does more for their team than Charles does for us,'' Holgorsen said.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.