Ground Attack

<b>Florida State</b> must contend with <b>West Virginia's</b> vaunted rushing attack in the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl. The Mountaineers rank sixth nationally in rushing yards per game, taking advantage of a stable of running backs. The team is paced by senior <b>Kay-Jay Harris,</b> who opened the year with a school-record 337-yard rushing performance against East Carolina.

Florida State's front seven is expected to be tested by West Virginia's vaunted running attack in the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl.

The Mountaineers enter the Gator Bowl averaging 254 rushing yards per game to rank sixth nationally.

Their attack is led by Tampa senior Kay-Jay Harris, who gained nearly half of his season total in the opener against East Carolina. Harris rushed for a school record 337 yards and four touchdowns 25 carries in the 56-23 victory.

Harris' effort was the 24th -best rushing performance in NCAA history. He also became the first 300-yard rusher in school history, surpassing Kerry Marbury's record of 291 yards against Temple in 1971.Plus, Harris set a BIG EAST rushing record, breaking Miami's Edgerrin James' 299 yards set against UCLA in 1998.

Ironically, it also marked the first time Harris had eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in his career. Slowed at times by a hamstring injury, Harris finished the season with a team-high 825 yards and nine touchdowns in nine games, including 100-yard efforts against East Carolina (337), Maryland (142) and Boston College (112).

Sophomore Jason Colson also turned in some fine performances for WVU.

He gained a career-high 113 yards against Syracuse and followed that up with 103 yards at Rutgers, marking the third consecutive game and fourth time this season that he has surpassed the century mark.

Of course, quarterback Rasheed Marshall is also an accomplished runner.

Statistically, Harris leads the rushing contingent. Colson has tallied 686 yards and six scores, while Marshall has pounded out 790 yards and four scores.

WVU's offensive line also deserves credit for the team's rushing prowess.

Entering the bowl, WVU's five starting offensive linemen have now made 107 combined starts, led by senior Tim Brown, who missed all of last year due to injury, with 35 career starts.

Sophomore Dan Mozes (23 career starts), junior Garin Justice (22 career starts), senior Michael Watson (19 career starts) and sophomore Jeremy Sheffey (eight career starts) have made up the starting lineup since the Connecticut game. Senior Jeff Berk had made 34 consecutive starts.

There's also experience on the bench as well, including sophomore Jeremy Hines (eight career starts) and junior Travis Garrett (three career starts).

BY THE NUMBERS

Category NCAA Rank Average
Rushing Offense (6) 254.18
Pass Efficiency (16) 145.02
Punt Returns (19) 13.64
Pass Eff Defense (22) 108.95
Scoring Defense (24) 19.64
Scoring Offense (25) 31.81
Total Offense (28) 418.00
Total Defense (30) 328.55
Kickoff Returns (33) 21.71
Rushing Defense (34) 126.55
Turnover Margin (36) +0.36
Pass Defense (41) 202.00
Net Punting (93) 33.04
Passing Offense (104) 163.82


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