MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- As West Virginia heads toward its final non-conference clash this season, playing host to UNLV at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, there is uncertainty around the status of senior running back Noel Devine.
Devine injured his toe when he was hit out of bounds early in the 20-14 loss Sept. 25 at LSU. He returned to the game but was visibly limited.
"He is trying to get on the mend; he has a bone bruise under his toe," West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said of Devine, who has 391 yards and two touchdowns in the first four games. "It is not turf toe, it is a bone bruise, so when he pivots, that aches. ... A bone is not like a muscle or a joint, but hopefully he will be good."
Asked of Devine's status Tuesday, Stewart seemed to think his running back won't be able to be fully evaluated until the game with UNLV (1-4) draws nearer.
"He is doing good, I won't say great," said Stewart, whose team is 3-1. "I won't know [his full status] until Saturday in warm-ups. What he did [Monday], that I was really proud of, was that he was either in class or in treatment. I told him don't leave the [football] building except for class, and he didn't. I thought that was kind of neat."
If Devine can't play, or even if he is limited in his snaps, redshirt freshman Daquan Hargrett or Shawne Alston would be the primary option at running back. But Stewart seemed to indicate Tuesday that freshman Trey Johnson could be another possible replacement.
Johnson, who is from Richmond, Va., wowed some coaches with his shiftiness in fall camp and continues to impress in recent practices.
"Trey Johnson really, really ran well, he did a nice job," Stewart said of the practices in the aftermath of the loss at LSU.
West Virginia and UNLV have never met before, and Rebels coach Bobby Hauck -- who is in his first year after seven successful seasons at Montana -- has never been to Morgantown.
Nonetheless, word has trickled to the Rebels about how tough an atmosphere Mountaineer Field can be on a home football Saturday.
"Morgantown is known for being loud and their fans are passionate about the game, it's a college town," Hauck said.
"It's a cool place to play. I've not been there but talked to a lot of people who have worked there or been there."
Something the UNLV contingent is hoping will offset the blowout many expect -- the betting line opened with West Virginia a 27-point favorite -- is a travel schedule that deviates from normal. The Rebels will travel east on Thursday, as opposed to the traditional one day in advance.
Colin Dunlap: email@example.com or 412-263-1459.