HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- When Marshall running back Kevin Grooms exploded for a 75-yard touchdown against Southern Mississippi, it was a scene that Thundering Herd fans and Grooms were used to seeing.
The junior hopes there's more where that came from this Saturday, when the Herd hosts the University of Alabama at Birmingham at noon on Comcast Sports South.
"I felt really good," Grooms said of that third-quarter sprint. "I'd treated myself, practiced hard and it carried over to the game."
Grooms finished that game with 109 yards and that touchdown on eight carries. It was his first 100-yard rushing game since a 155-yard game against Houston in 2012. He's been hampered by a high ankle sprain suffered in preseason camp and has tried to run like he's 100 percent in earlier games this season, but the burst hasn't been there.
His top game this season before last week was a 51-yard performance against Miami (Ohio). The bulk of that came on a 39-yard run where he was caught from behind, a product of trying to run on that bum ankle.
Grooms said that long run against the Golden Eagles is fuel for his fire for Saturday's game against the Blazers, tangible evidence that his burst is returning.
"It feels good to know I can be more explosive, to actually be able to break a run I'm used to doing," he said. "I just have to keep working at it and keep treating (the ankle) and get it back to the strength I need."
While a sprained ankle may not sound like much, Grooms and Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said high ankle sprains are particularly tricky. They affect the ligaments that join the tibia and fibula and can make cutting and stutter-stepping a painful exercise.
"Those high ankles, you see a lot of people around the country dealing with those," Holliday said. "You get a high ankle, sometimes it better to break it. They're hard to come back from."