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Houston's leading rusher doubtful for Saturday

Nov. 14, 2012 @ 11:25 PM

It is unknown whether one of the most dynamic players in Conference USA will be able to suit up for Saturday's contest between Houston and Marshall.

Houston running back Charles Sims injured his ankle against East Carolina two weeks ago and missed last week's 41-7 loss to Tulsa.

The University of Houston website downgraded Sims from questionable to doubtful earlier this week in preparation for the Cougars' visit to Joan C. Edwards Stadium for a Saturday game at noon that is televised on CSS (Huntington cable Ch. 68).

While Sims' status is in doubt, the Cougars are on the brink of being eliminated from the postseason.

If there is any chance Sims can play, he will have to in order for Houston to keep its bowl hopes alive.

Marshall players and coaches all raved about Sims when watching him on film in preparation for this week's game.

"He reminds me of (NFL player) Darren McFadden kind of," Marshall safety Dominick LeGrande said. "He runs like that and he's one of the best we've seen all year. I don't think we've seen a back like him. He's a real complete back."

Sims is a dual-threat running back for the Cougars.

He can burst through for big gains in the rushing attack or he can create matchup problems in the passing game.

In addition to running for 854 yards, he has caught 35 passes for 347 yards. He has 14 total touchdowns (11 rushing, three receiving) on the season.

"I saw him earlier in the year and he's a monster," Marshall defensive end Jeremiah Taylor said. "He can get it done. Along with his rushing, he has a lot of receiving yards, too. They are a versatile team and we have to be ready."

So, how important is Sims to Houston's attack?

After he was hurt early in the second quarter against East Carolina, the Cougars completely abandoned the rushing attack, running just one more play over the final two-and-a-half quarters to a running back.

In that game, Houston ended with 11 carries for 28 yards. Sims had five carries for 33 yards before being injured.

Then, against Tulsa last week, Houston gained just 78 yards on 32 carries in a 41-7 loss.

Without Sims, the Cougars go from a team with a 106 yard-per-game rusher to a one-dimensional team that opposing defenses tee off against.

Sims' absence also hindered the passing attack for Houston as Piland was constantly under pressure and finished just 15-of-32 for 148 yards and two interceptions.

The game will definitely change if Sims is unable to go on Saturday.

QB CLUB: The Huntington Quarterback Club will have its weekly luncheon at Guyan Golf and Country Club on Thursday.

Doors open at 11:30 and lunch will be served at noon. Cost is $15 for non-members and $12 for members.

The guest speaker for this week will be Mo Lajterman, brother of former Marshall kicker Marcel Lajterman, who was killed in the 1970 plane crash.

Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or gtraylor@herald-dispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).

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