Buie May Fall Victim to Crowded WVU Backfield - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Buie May Fall Victim to Crowded WVU Backfield

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MORGANTOWN -

If a West Virginia football fan were to grab a copy of the 2013 season schedule poster and hang it on his or her wall, there would be Andrew Buie front and center, leering down at the room in his new, gold Mountaineers uniform.

Head on over to the Book Exchange on Willey Street for your own replica of the latest fashion trend in Morgantown and one of your two choices will be Buie's No. 13 jersey.

But look at WVU's depth chart, which features four running backs, and the junior rusher is nowhere to be found.

Perhaps Dana Holgorsen ran out of room on the paper, one reporter suggested on Monday's Big 12 coaches' teleconference. Or perhaps running backs coach JaJuan Seider simply ran out of room in his backfield.

Buie will enter 2013 as the top returning rusher for the Mountaineers, following a season in which he amassed 207 yards in one game against Texas and just 644 in his other 12 appearances. He reached the 100-yard mark just one other time, in a 59-10 rout of Kansas.

Much of the talk this offseason has been the crowded backfield Seider is inheriting as he coaches transfers Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith, true freshman Wendell Smallwood, and the most experienced Mountaineers, Buie and Dustin Garrison.

There just did not seem to be enough carries to go around, regardless of how much the coaches and players talked up the idea of needing more bodies in order to keep everyone fresh.

Certainly, a year ago, when starter Shawne Alston went down with an injury and Garrison couldn't be counted on as he continued to recover from knee surgery, more bodies would have done the team wonders. Now those bodies exist, and maybe they all get their touches even when healthy, but a realistic, equal use of five running backs is difficult to imagine.

Holgorsen has shown since his time coaching Kendall Hunter and Joseph Randle at Oklahoma State that he can throw two or more quality runners in his backfield and give defensive coordinators a fit. In brief 11-on-11 periods open to the media, he showed just that with Sims and Smith working ahead of Smallwood and Garrison.

Buie got the scraps.

The prevailing opinion heading into the year was perhaps Smallwood draws the short straw and with his entire career ahead of him, he redshirts this true freshman season. But his teammates and his coaches praised him every chance they had, assuring whoever asked that he was up for the task of getting significant carries in the offense.

"Right now, I trust him enough where he can be a starter. Put it that way," Seider said in the final week of fall camp. "He's done a great job from spring to fall. He's going to be a really, really good player."

So when Smallwood's name showed up No. 2 on the depth chart, that didn't seem like a surprise. That Buie had fallen to the point of no mention, though, may have been alarming, especially when considering the former 4-star running back came out of high school as a Top 10 prospect at his position nationally.

He brought hype to the Mountaineers that has yet to truly show itself on the field outside of that night when he sliced his way through the Longhorns' defense.

There could very well be plenty of carries and snaps in general to go around with the inexperience that continues at quarterback and receiver on offense, the question is whether or not any of those go to the player who put up more rushing yards with WVU last year than any other currently on the roster.

"I think both him and Dustin Garrison have proven to be guys that have experience, but any time you add the likes of Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood, it's going to change the dynamic of that room," Holgorsen said Monday. "We feel like we're in pretty good shape at running back. If the last couple of years have shown anything, you're going to need more than one, that's for certain."

Holgorsen promised to feed the ball to whichever running back happened to have the hot hand and he has done so in the past, which is how Garrison took the starting job mid-season in 2011.

There are a number of hands reaching out to heat up with the opener quickly approaching, but the preseason depth chart seems to indicate that one of the most experienced Mountaineers may find the majority of his publicity coming from merchandise rather than his play on the field this season. 

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