Style of WVU's back a hit in snow
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Shawne Alston likely earned himself a few extra carries after a career day in the snow Saturday at Rutgers.
With footing issues slowing down the team's more cunning backs, Alston amassed 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including a 52-yarder down the left sideline.
"I've been waiting for a day like that for a while," said Alston, with a big smile.
Alston, a 5-foot-11, 221-pound junior running back had not been used so heavily in any previous game this season.
"Shawne has been getting there," said coach Dana Holgorsen. "Yeah, we'll keep trying to get him the ball. As long as when he runs it he keeps going forward. It makes it easier to have another guy who can play a lot of positions."
Alston's speed, or lack thereof, is a source of ribbing from teammates. After his touchdown run, he said he heard from several busting his chops. The funniest? When a teammate told him that was the longest 50-yard run he had seen.
"Shawne knows he's slow, but last Saturday he was the fastest guy on the field," said quarterback Geno Smith.
"I mess with him," said defensive end Bruce Irvin. "He's like an 18-wheeler out there. That was the slowest 52-yard run I'd seen in my life."
Alston takes the jokes in stride.
"Everybody had a little bit something to say," he said.
"He understands where he's limited. He's a very mature kid," said running backs coach Robert Gillespie.
Holgorsen said he called his team together briefly last week to give them the news about joining the Big 12 Conference, but quickly moved on.
"We brought the guys together for about 30 seconds and told them it was official, then we told them it doesn't mean anything," Holgorsen said.
"It doesn't mean anything with this week. It doesn't mean anything next week. Our task at hand is the same as it was in August, which is to win the Big East. That's what all our focus and energy is on."
He said he didn't think it was as distracting for players as it was for the coaching staff.
"Kids are a little more short-sighted. They're not worried about West Virginia five years from now."
Holgorsen praised Smith for his quick playmaking ability late in the fourth quarter against Rutgers. Smith scrambled for the go-ahead points in the fourth quarter on a fourth down from the 1. The play was not designed that way.
"I think Geno had some poise last week in the fourth quarter. I got on him in the third pretty good," said Holgorsen.
Holgorsen also said the team responded better to adversity against Rutgers than it did against Syracuse.
"The biggest thing was when we got smacked we didn't respond [at Syracuse]," said Holgorsen.
"Last week, there were a lot of opportunities to shut it down. It was too cold, they're winning by 10 to 'this is not working out how we wanted it to.' We responded better."
First Published November 2, 2011 12:00 am