Holgorsen Undecided About Playing Garrison - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Holgorsen Undecided About Playing Garrison


Game week has arrived for college football teams around the country. That means coaches are not only getting their players ready for their first opponent, but they are also beginning their game week media obligations.

The Big 12 made its coaches available to the media on its weekly teleconference. Head Coach Dana Holgorsen answered questions about his team as it prepares to face Marshall on Saturday.

One of the biggest questions facing the Mountaineers is the health of former starting running back Dustin Garrison. Garrison missed the Orange Bowl last January after suffering a torn ACL in his knee the week of the game.

"He was sore last week, so we gave him a few days off," Holgorsen said. "The plan all along was to get him to game week and get him out there and see what happens. We haven't made that decision at this point."

Holgorsen stated that Shawne Alston will start at running back in the Marshall game. If Garrison cannot play, Andrew Buie, Ryan Clark, Donovan Miles, D'Vontis Arnold and Cody Clay were all names that Holgorsen threw out there that could be used to carry the ball if needed.

As for Saturday's matchup, this will be Holgorsen's second game against Marshall. WVU won a weather-shortened game last year in Morgantown.

"It is in-state. It is a game that means a lot to the people of West Virginia. It means a lot to both teams for bragging rights."

Holgorsen said he spent the past week watching all of Marshall's games from 2011 and noticed one particular thing about the Herd.

"I know watching all of Marshall's games from last year that they played considerably harder against West Virginia than they did against any team out there," Holgorsen stated. "We are expecting to get their best."

Marshall always looks forward to the matchup against West Virginia. It easily provides a team from a lesser conference a chance to take down a team from a BCS conference. While WVU has moved from the Big East to the Big 12, that theme remains in place.

"Just playing up a conference they are going to play hard," Holgorsen said. "It's a quality Conference USA team and won their bowl game. They are coming in here with a little bit of momentum and will be ready to play."

Marshall returns two good playmakers from a year ago. Perhaps the most dangerous of the group is receiver Aaron Dobson.

"He ended up being the player of their bowl game last year," Holgorsen said of Dobson. "He is a big, good-looking kid. He is a returning starter and does a good job of being a physical guy that can block and makes some catches that are pretty spectacular. He is obviously a guy that caught our eye and is going to be one of the bigger focal points of what we need to do to win the game."

Of course Dobson has to get his hands on the ball and that will be determined by the play of Sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato.

"He experienced some growing pains, which all freshmen do, especially at the quarterback position," Holgorsen said of Cato. "Question number one is, which offense are they going to run. Hopefully he is learning his second offense in as many years. He showed some pretty good signs of being a special kind of quarterback. He has won a lot of games from high school and we will have to contain him, no doubt."

The West Virginia defense will have a lot to say about whether or not Dobson and Cato succeed on Saturday. WVU changed in the spring from a 3-3-5 odd stack defense to a 3-4. The players have been learning that defense throughout the spring and fall camp.

"We've got a lot of new bodies," Holgorsen said of his defense. "We are going to play four or five freshmen defensive line or linebacker type guys."

Making plays on the field is obviously a top priority, but Holgorsen indicated he will be watching his defense to see who emerges as the leader.

"My biggest concern is replacing guys like Keith Tandy and Najee Goode who were our backbone of what we did defensively," Holgorsen said. "They were the best leaders we had on the team. It takes game-type experience to see which one of those guys are going to step up and become leaders and guys that we rely on when things are not going good."

After a month of hitting each other, the Mountaineers are excited to see an opponent wearing a different color jersey. Finally, the players will have the opportunity to play a game.

"We are excited about this being our first game. We don't care who we are playing. Everybody is excited about playing the first game regardless of who it is or where it is."

WVU will host Marshall on Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon.

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