BGN Players of the Game: Texas

Charles Sims and Jared Barber were named Players of the Game for their performances in West Virginia's 47-40 overtime loss to Texas.

Sims scored three times and rushed for a game-high 93 yards on 24 carries. His 3.9 yards per carry average wasn't impressive – but like many stats, the effort and true ability can't be encapsulated by such. Sims ran around and through the Texas defense and showcased his NFL-level abilities. West Virginia's offensive line, with a hit-or-miss performance, did manage to open some holes and spring the back on occasion. But the majority
Offensive Player of the Game
Charles Sims
24 carries, 96 yds/3 TD/5 rec., 42 yds
Of Sims' yardage was gained after some initial contact. The senior also caught five passes for 42 yards, tying the most receptions of any Mountaineer. Sims was clearly the best WVU offensive player against the Longhorns, and the fan voting showed such, as Sims took a whopping 90 percent of the vote.

Fellow nominees Kevin White and Mario Alford had solid games at receiver, with White amassing five grabs for 89 yards and Alford supplying the biggest Mountaineer offensive play of the game with his 72-yard scoring reception from back-up quarterback Paul Millard. Alford also took a misdirection toss play for 20 yards on the first WVU play of overtime, but the Mountaineers ailed to punch in from the five-yard line on four plays to end the game. Neither, however, came close to the game-long, play-in and play-out significance of Sims.

Barber, a linebacker who has won the award once already, edged fellow ‘backer Nick Kwaitkoski for the win, largely because of his game-high 14 tackles, including an impressive eight of the solo variety, and his forced fumble which was recovered by Kyle Rose on Texas' second possession. West Virginia, which led 9-0 at that point, didn't turn the UT miscue into
Defensive Player of the Game
Jared Barber
Game-high 14 tackles/8 solo/1 FF
points. But the play did help WVU maintain its field position edge despite the offense actually losing nine yards on its series. Barber is perhaps the player with the best natural instincts and nose for the football, and the 6-0, 233-pounder is as imperative as any defender when stuffing the run, as West Virginia was able to do against the ‘Horns, holding UT to just 152 yards on 41 carries, an average of 3.7 yards per run.

Kwiatkoski, to his credit, turned in yet another athletic performance with nine tackles, six solo, and the lone Texas interception. Kwiatkoski picked off UT quarterback Case McCoy on the ‘Horns third series of the game, meaning Barber and Kwiatkoski created turnovers on back-to-back Texas possessions as WVU dominated the first quarter. Nose tackle Shaq Rowell received a nomination for his seven tackles, one for loss, and his ability to hold up to among the more physically-imposing lines in the nation. Rowell, who after the game guaranteed the Mountaineers would finish the regular season with two wins, has shown perhaps the most heart and passion of any player this year.

Punter Nick O'Toole was the fourth nominee for his seven punts averaging 46.7 yards per carry. He had a long of 52, and was able to flip the field well most of the night. The freshman should only continue to get better, and, along with placekicker Josh Lambert, provide some stability to the Mountaineer special teams for years to come.

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