In the first sweep of first-year players in recent memory, running back Charles Sims and punter Nick O'Toole have earned Offensive and Defensive Player of the game honors, respectively, in West Virginia's 24-17 win over William and Mary.
Sims, a 6-0, 213-pound transfer from Houston, rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries, including the first Mountaineer score of the season. The senior, who teammates call "one-cut" for his vertical burst, utilized just that trait in his touchdown, a quick vertical burst mixed with some shiftiness that left Tribe defenders grasping at
Offensive Player of the Game
120 rushing yards
Average of 5.2 ypc
air on the 11-yard carry. It was West Virginia's only score of the opening half in a game in which it mixed quarterbacks, offensive and defensive approaches and mental states. The one constant, perhaps, was Sims, who rose to the top of the depth chart during a stellar fall camp. Sims had all but 52 of WVU's rushing yards and proved himself capable of carrying a perhaps the primary load in a crowded backfield that saw all four scholarship backs get touches.
Sims stood out for his quickness, agility and burst in a rather workmanlike total effort versus William and Mary. The Houston native, a second-team All-Conference USA pick a season ago, is now well on his way to topping the team-high 851 yards he amassed for the Cougars last season before selecting WVU largely due to familiarity with Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen, 18-9 in his third season at West Virginia, was the offensive coordinator at Houston during Sims' freshman year, one in which he was named C-USA Frosh of the Year.
O'Toole, a sturdy, 6-5, 220-pound junior college transfer from Corona, Calif., made an immediate impact, averaging 50.6 yards per punt with a long of 60. The sophomore netted 253 total yards on five punts, often pinning William and Mary inside its own 30 despite West Virginia's offense bogging down for portions of play.
Defensive Player of the Game
50.6 yd average
Net of 50 yds per punt
Long of 60, 1 inside 20
This might seem a rare pick on the defensive side, but in a game in which few defensive players shone as brightly as O'Toole did on special teams, the pick was glaringly obvious to all who voted.
The tallies, as of midnight Saturday, had O'Toole leading 41-6 over the second-place player, safety Darwin Cook. The senior, best known for his 99-yard return of a fumble in the 70-33 Orange Bowl victory over Clemson, intercepted a pass on the final Trive drive to fatally thwart a rally. But Cook also blew a coverage while biting on a run fake, and was out of position multiple times during the contest. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, who had a team-high seven tackles, garnered one vote.
Sims led 44-12 over quarterback Paul Millard, who threw for 237 yards on 19-of-25 passing and one score, but also fumbled once. Veteran offensive lineman Pat Eger, who deserves more praised than that which he is getting from the vote, had one nod for Player of the Game. Eger, a senior with the most overall experience of any WVU offensive lineman, played multiple positions along the line and gave the Mountaineers needed depth while aiding an offensive attack that put up 409 yards, but converted just two of 10 third downs.