Surely, when they both graduated Pearland High School, Trey Anderson and Kasey Carrier might have known they would square off against each other. They could have never predicted they'd face off against each other as members of Pitt and New Mexico, respectively.
"Not at all," Anderson said. "I know the ability he has, and they run that gun, triple option type of offense. He gets tons of carries a game. I'm not surprised at all."
Carrier, a two-star recruit and the nation's No. 167 ranked running back in the Class of 2009, enters this game with Pitt averaging 172.5 yards a game. He's the nation's leading rusher, and is coming off a 291-yard, four-touchdown performance against UTEP last week, in a 42-35 overtime win.
Echoing on his statement that he's not surprised by Carrier's success, Anderson reflected to his sophomore year in high school, back in 2008. Anderson started two games for Pearland that season. The Oilers went 12-1 that season, and Carrier went on to rush for 2,117 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Breaking in as a high school quarterback, Anderson said Carrier was the one guy who helped ease him in the most. Anderson, of course, would go on and set a school-record with 2,898 passing yards as a senior in 2010, leading the Oilers to their first state championship.
"It was huge," Anderson said. "It was huge at times where I wasn't confident. He was always there to talk me through things and give me some words of encouragement when I needed them. It was a good security blanket having him next to me in the backfield.
"He's a great guy that I was fortunate enough to play with as a sophomore in high school; just a hard worker, and a great teammate. I can't wait to play against him. He's real strong, hard to bring down. It's going to be interesting to see how well he plays."
Obviously, Anderson isn't faced with the task of defending against Carrier and this type of pistol/triple option. He did, however, explain how this type of matchup is a good litmus test for facing some other triple option teams that Pitt will see on this schedule--Navy on October 26, and Georgia Tech the following week on November 2.
This New Mexico style may be more of a challenge, just based on how the quarterback is used. The Lobos have only attempted 24 passes in two games. Yet, the quarterback is a different type of threat.
"When you think of a Georgia Tech offense, a triple option kind of under center, I think it's similar to that, only it's in pistol," Anderson said. "You got the quarterback in pistol, the running backs are behind him. You have a fullback, a running back next to him. I think it's better than a Georgia Tech offense, because you're able to run play action and different types of passing things you wouldn't be able to in a Georgia Tech offense."
Spoken like a true quarterback. However, playing for the team who has to defend this type of offense, Anderson is a good brain to pick for his Panther defensive teammates. If this game against New Mexico does anything, it should give Pitt a good idea of what to expect later in the season--especially for a conference game against Georgia Tech.
"It's more challenging, because as a defense, it's all about controlling your gaps and doing your responsibilities," Anderson said. "Other offenses, you're in zone or whatever it may be. You have the threat of a running back up the middle, a quarterback reading the defensive end, pulling it, or he can pitch it off the outside linebacker. You have three things you have to constantly be covering."
Aside from all of that, Anderson said Carrier's success is reflective of the tradition Pearland has set up. Fozzie Whittaker, Carrier' predecessor, is now returning kicks for the San Diego Chargers, following a collegiate career at Texas. Dustin Garrison, another of Anderson's former teammates, is at West Virginia.
"Now, Kasey is leading the nation in rushing," Anderson added. "It's amazing the talent we've had, coming out of there."