WVU hopes Garrison can go on a run

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Don't raid the campus store at West Virginia for Dustin Garrison jerseys yet.

But the Mountaineers freshman running back, who was playing under the lights at a Texas high school a year ago, flashed some potential last week.

Garrison gained 46 yards on 10 carries against LSU, scoring a key touchdown on a 1-yard run during WVU's third-quarter comeback attempt.

Not overwhelming numbers, but a performance that might indicate the run game is moving in the right direction.

  • Game: West Virginia (3-1) vs. Bowling Green (3-1), Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, W.Va.
  • When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
  • TV: Root Sports.

"Before -- running the ball -- the holes weren't there," said Garrison.

"They'd be there for a second and close up so fast. As I continued playing, the game slowed down. I saw the holes a lot faster and was able to hit them a lot quicker than I usually would."

Garrison, just 5-8 and 175 pounds, is one of a trio of freshmen trying to learn the ropes at running back in this system.

He, Andrew Buie and Vernard Roberts have each had good games and so-so games.

It is all in the name of progress, said running backs coach Robert Gillespie, who has long proclaimed the trio will "grow up in front of our eyes" this season.

"I think we've made every mistake in the book as a running back group," said Gillespie. "But those are things that will make us better. For the most part, [Garrison] making some plays showed we're making some strides."

Garrison also had four receptions for 26 yards Saturday and earned some praise from coach Dana Holgorsen.

"Dustin came in last week and gave us a half of really good football," Holgorsen said.

"His production in one half of football was as good of a performance we've had in one half this year."

Holgorsen said he planned to practice Garrison with the first team in preparation for the game Saturday against Bowling Green.

"Whether that's the case [all week], it depends on practice. He played a good half against LSU, which is why we kept him in there. We've said competition and how much people will play is based off of what's happening in the game and how it looks once they're in there.

"When Dustin was in there, he looked good. He made some good runs without a lot of space. We kept him in there, and he finished out the game."

Junior Shawne Alston has also provided depth to the position, adding 14 yards on four carries against LSU. A week earlier, upon his return from injury, he picked up 20 yards on six carries against Maryland.

Buie, who missed last week with an injury, is expected to rejoin the lineup this weekend.

Though the run game is nowhere near the passing game development-wise, players believe it is on the cusp of adding more dimension to the attack.

"We have young backs. We tend to forget they can only take so much on their shoulders," said junior quarterback Geno Smith.

"They're hitting the holes well and starting to see it. I think those guys are really getting ready to break out."

NOTES -- Beer sales at Mountaineer Field netted $120,469 for West Virginia at the LSU game, about $12,000 shy of the combined sales at Games 1 and 2 ($132,760).


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