Season on hold for West Virginia's top running back

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia's coaches said Tuesday there is no rush to get Dustin Garrison, the team's rushing leader last season, into the lineup in time for the opener Saturday against Marshall.

As game week preparation hit full stride in Morgantown, running backs coach Robert Gillespie said they might even take three or four weeks to consider a medical redshirt.

Garrison's knee was "sore" last week, and he was held out of practice for a few days.

"It depends on how he practices this week," said coach Dana Holgorsen Tuesday. "We've settled on Shawne [Alston] being the starter for some time. Ryan [Clarke] will be the bigger back we put in there. [Andrew] Buie has been practicing really well.

"We'll continue to practice [Garrison]. It's a long season, and, if he's not ready to go this week, we'll reevaluate it next week. I don't think Shawne Alston took a snap until Game 5 last year. Thirteen games is a long season for running backs where you're asking them to run, block, pass block, run with the ball, catch the ball ... "

Garrison had surgery in the offseason to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and sprained medial collateral ligament suffered the week before the Orange Bowl.

"There's no rush," said Gillespie. "You look around. There are a few guys at the next level with the same injury. We just have to be patient, get him where he's comfortable with it, then we'll get him out there to play ball."

Gillespie said the coaches will take three or four games to make a decision on whether or not to redshirt the sophomore.

"He obviously wants to be out there and knows we have a chance to have a special season, but he also understands he's a better football player when he's healthy," said Gillespie. "I've sat down with him. Coach Holgorsen has sat down with him and told him we want you do the best thing for yourself and that will in turn be the best thing for us in the future."

Instead, Alston is the man the team "will ride" this season.

"We're gonna ride him as long as we can ride him. We're expecting a big year out of him," said Gillespie. "He will help set up the runs Buie will come in the game and be able to make."

Quick hits

About 10-15 true freshmen will dress Saturday, said Holgorsen, making good on his long-standing assertion that depth from this class will be counted on. ... Saturday marks the last of seven consecutive years West Virginia and Marshall have opened the season in the "Friends of Coal Bowl." ... Holgorsen said defensive backs Darwin Cook and Terence Garvin have handled the offseason well since getting arrested for shoplifting this past spring. The pair have worked their way back with the coaching staff and are now being lauded as leaders. "We handled that a long time ago. We've had lots of talks with them. Lots of early morning workouts with them to see if they wanted to be here," said Holgorsen. "They've done everything they've been asked to do. They [are] two of the guys we're counting on to be leaders on this defense, let alone the football team. Proud of how those guys have responded."



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