Garrison Works for Starting Spot at WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Garrison Works for Starting Spot at WVU


The Mountaineers are searching for a way to get out of the basement of the nation's worst rushing attacks.

With 306 total yards on the ground, WVU ranks 111th out of 120 teams in the FBS. Despite only putting up 70 yards on Saturday against LSU, a tiny glimmer of hope emerged and made his case for the starting spot.

It wasn't quite the Virginia Tech game of 2005, but there were similarities between what Dustin Garrison did on Saturday and what Steve Slaton accomplished back then.

Both true freshmen, both with plenty of able-bodied rushers listed ahead of them on the depth chart, both sitting back as those ahead of them failed to perform.

Slaton played in an offense meant to spring a back for big yards, and he took advantage of it with 11 carries for 90 yards, including a spectacular 44-yarder. Garrison only had 46 yards total on 10 totes, but it was perhaps the best performance of any running back all year.

And Garrison's carries all came in the final 30:26 of the game.

"He got in there and got a chance and did a few good things, so we kept him in there," says head coach Dana Holgorsen. "I've been saying this about competition and how much people play, it's based on the feel of the game and how it looks once they're in there. When Dustin was in there, he looked good."

Still, there's no sense in talking to the coaches that Garrison is "the starter" right now. His week of practice will determine whether or not he gets the first snap on Saturday against Bowling Green and if he does, it'll be his job to show why he deserves to continue getting snaps.

"It's a little pressure, but I can't let it get to me," says Garrison. "I've still got to go out there and work hard and practice hard."

Practice is one thing, but a game is different. In practice, the speed is generally different, the plays are blown dead sooner and the overall atmosphere is unlike what players see on game days. Garrison believes he may be the sort of player who practices hard during the week but can't show exactly what he's got until it really counts.

"In practice, I've been practicing the same way I've been practicing since I got here," he says. "Nothing really changed. Whenever the game comes, things change. Whenever I've got my opportunity, I'll open up a few eyes."

The mentality in the coaching staff is to play whoever has the hot hand. So far this season, the starter hasn't really mattered because for the most part the starter hasn't been all that hot. When one is getting stoned at the line, another has been inserted for a fresh set of legs.

Garrison hasn't had the chance to cool off because his reps have been so limited through four games. His five yards per carry rank tops on the team by a significant margin and his two rushing touchdowns are the second-most, despite having just 13 carries to Andrew Buie's 26 and Vernard Roberts' 41.

He has 86 yards receiving, while the other running backs on the team total just 30 yards combined.

"We'll see if Dustin can continue making plays and working hard in practice and see if it can carry over," says his position coach, Robert Gillespie.

This is the first time Gillespie has had three true freshmen at the top of the rotation at running back. Two of them have gotten starts, but one has not. The staff is searching for consistency, and to this point, Garrison hasn't had the chance to show it. Saturday could be that chance, but nothing is guaranteed.

"Four years from now, we'll look back and you guys won't have to ask me many questions because they'll be perfect," says Gillespie. "But right now, they're not. They're going to make mistakes."

Garrison is hoping week five is his chance to prove his worth and not only get the starting job, but keep it.

"You've just got to be patient," he says. "That's what I've been doing the past few games and just waiting my turn. Whenever my turn does come, I've got to execute to the best of my ability."

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WVILL. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.