Last season, as a true freshman, Dustin Garrison led the Mountaineers in rushing (742 yards on 136 carries, including his tour de force 291 yards against Bowling Green a freshman record and tied for the second-highest in school history) and had six touchdowns.
This season, he may not see the field.
Holgorsen said no decision has been made on redshirting Garrison, who suffered a left-knee injury during WVU’s preparations for the Orange Bowl.
West Virginia opens the season Saturday with intrastate rival Marshall. Kickoff is set for noon.
“He was sore last week so we gave him a few weeks off and the plan’s been all along was to get him to game week and get him out there and see what happens,” Holgorsen said. “We haven’t made that decision (on redshirting Garrison) yet.”
Last season, after missing most of the first four game (he didn’t even dress for the Marshall game), Alston rushed for 416 yards and 12 touchdowns. Buie had 51 carries for 172 yards and a touchdown and caught 13 passes for 85 yards.
And what is after that?
Even with Garrison, WVU has just three backs with carries returning and last season WVU needed four just to make it through the season.
D’Vontis Arnold, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound freshman from Miramar, Fla. (continuing the pipeline of players from the Florida school that includes Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey, Ivan McCartney) could provide some depth.
“D’Vontis has done a good job,” Holgorsen said. “He’s relatively unknown at this point, but we do need that body. Running back is probably the hardest position to play in college football. Those guys take a pounding. We ask them to do so much from a running-the-ball standpoint, blocking standpoint, pass-protection standpoint, receiving standpoint. You need a lot of bodies.”
Ryan Clarke, listed as a fullback, is another guy who can fill in the gaps.
The 6-0, 231-pound Clarke, out of Glen Burnie, Md., has been the forgotten man in the backfield. He played in 12 games last season, started five, but in Holgorsen’s offense, never saw a carry.
In 2010 he had 80 carries for 291 yards and scored eight touchdowns. As a redshirt freshman in 2009 he had had 60 carries for 250 yards and eight touchdowns. His 16 career touchdowns are more than any other back on the roster.
“Ryan Clarke is a guy who can do multiple things for us,” Holgorsen said.
Holgorsen said that Torry Clayton (5-9, 195 freshman) apparently “wanted to go home (to Florida City, Fla.).
“He withdrew from school and voluntarily left the program, so you’d have to ask him.” Holgorsen said when asked what happened with Clayton.