MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– Last week against Texas Tech, D’Onta Foreman lit up the stats sheet when he rushed for 341 yards and three touchdowns in Texas’ 45-37 win.
The junior’s stellar performance leaves teams wondering just how do you stop him.
“Tackle him,” WVU defensive line coach Bruce Tall said.
Through eight games Foreman has rushed for 1,446 yards for 13 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 249-pound running back averages 180.8 yards a game.
“It depends on how many times they give it to him,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They gave it to him 18 times last year, and he had 150, he’s a good player. The BYU back was pretty dang good, a couple of the guys we face next week are going to be pretty good, the TCU guy was pretty good, I don’t mean to be leaving anybody out, but there are a lot of good backs, but yeah, he’s the premier back in the country right now. They hand it to him a bunch, our job is to get him off the field.”
Foreman poses an immediate threat for the Mountaineers’ defense. He uses his size to punish defenses and for a big back, he can make last second cuts and leave opponents in the dust.
“He’s really good,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. “He has great vision, great feet, quickness. When you think of a 250-pound back, you think straight downhill run. He can get you going in different ways. He can outrun you, we saw that last year. He’s special, he’s a really good back, great offensive team. They’re very physical, and they try to make a statement when they run the ball. We’re going to have our hands full.”
“He’s very physical and has enough speed that he can outrun people,” Texas head coach Charlie Strong said.
Part of Foreman’s success is due to the talent of the Longhorns’ offensive line. The unit has gone up against defenses and created holes for the speedy back to get on his way.
“They walk into the game wanting to be physical,” Strong said. “The offensive line is where it all starts at… They’ve been able to win up front and knock people off the ball.”
While the line doesn’t get the praises Foreman receives, they have the depth and talent to allow him to flourish and earn Heisman Trophy considerations
How do you stop the powerful running back?
“You just got to make sure you put same shoulder same leg,” Tall said. “You got to be good with your technique. If you arm tackle him he’s going to get on his back and take a ride. You’re not going to arm tackle him. He’s going to run you right over.”
“Just being able to tackle him, you just have to be physical,” senior cornerback Maurice Fleming said. “Get him down, that’s it. If I’m making a tackle you have 10 other players that’s running to the ball as well, that’s the game of football itself.”
WVU is aware stopping Foreman won’t be easy.
“It’s hard,” redshirt senior linebacker Justin Arndt said. “There is a reason he’s putting up 300, 200 a game. He gets downhill. He’s hard to take down. He’s 250. It’s all about getting as many hats to the ball as possible. He’s legit.”
The Mountaineers would like to hold the former three-star recruit to under 100 yards on Saturday but know it’s going to be a tough task.
“That’s always the goal,” Arndt said. “Coming into every game that’s what you want to do. That’s our goal this week obviously and we just got to eventually get it done and stuff like that. It’s all about trying to stop him mostly. He’s their guy.”
WVU believes getting physical with Foreman is one way of stopping his reign of terror.
“He’s a big dude and I know that’s really the struggle, no one can surely hit him but we’re going to hit him,” senior defensive linemen Noble Nwachukwu said. “We’re going to get him down on the ground. I don’t think that’s going to be too much of a problem for us.”
So far the Mountaineers defense has done a good job at limiting opponents in the run game. WVU held Texas Tech’s running attack to just 34 yards on October 22.
The Mountaineers’ run defense is fourth in the Big 12, limiting opponents to 148.2 yards per game. WVU has stopped the likes of some of the country’s premiere backs in BYU’s Jamaal Williams and TCU’s Kyle Hicks.
On Saturday when the Mountaineers travel to Austin, they are shooting for similar results.
Cover Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports