Kevin Kinder\BlueGoldNews.com

Smallwood Quietly Contributes to WVU Win

West Virginia's defense and young receivers certainly deserved the credit they received for their performances in the Mountaineers' 44-0 win over Georgia Southern, but there was another player who quietly had a big game.

With Jovon Durante and Shelton Gibson topping the century mark in receiving yardage and the Mountaineer defense holding Georgia Southern to just 3.2 yards per play, there wasn't a lot of additional room in the spotlight. However, running back Wendell Smallwood had the sort of game that head coach Dana Holgorsen expected -- once he got untracked. Smallwood finished with 96 yards on 11 carries (8.7 yards per carry), and added another 23 yards on four catches, accounting for 119 total yards and a score. He, like West Virginia's offense as a whole, was a bit sluggish starting out, but once he got revved up productivity increased. Perhaps not incidentally, so too did the Mountaineer attack, which came alive to put the contest away in the third quarter.

"I felt like I was seeing it faster and hitting the hole faster and I got in a groove," Smallwood said of his showing, which went largely unnoticed. "It was frustrating [in the first half] because we were getting in the red zone and just coming up with field goals. Dana was preaching at halftime to get in the end zone. I think we had the right plays [in the first half], we just didn't execute them. Then we got in a groove in the second half."

The reason for Smallwood's better closing half? Workload.

"I think for me the more I play the better I get. Later in the game, I'm getting better. Rather than going down, I'm turning it up.  I'm getting a feel for defenses. With me and Rushel Shell sometimes we even split series -- if he's on a roll I'll let him go and if I'm on a roll I'll let him go. I think we have each others' back on that - we won't try to mess that up.

Smallwood's competitive nature doesn't allow him to stay calm when he's out of the game, though. He's looking for any angle he can to return to the action.

"When I'm on the sidelines, I am trying to get back in, even if the coach doesn't tell me," he said with an impish grin. "I might jump in -- I did that in the second half and tapped Shell to come out, and the coaches didn't even notice. But I think they will catch that on the film."

It's hard to imagine anyone getting too upset with Smallwood for that, especially if he keeps turning in 119-yard games -- even if they do go somewhat unnoticed.


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