MORGANTOWN - There are probably two brief moments in Andrew Buie's freshman season as a running back at West Virginia that stand out above all others. One Buie would like to forget. The other he finds hard to even explain.
The first came early in the season in a game against Maryland at College Park. Buie, who had earned the starting tailback job, found himself running up the middle in the open field against Maryland when he was absolutely crushed by a Terrapin defender and fumbled the ball away.
He would stagger through the rest of that game, carrying six more times, but then he missed the next two games with an injured shoulder and carried only 12 more times the rest of the regular season, opening the door for Dustin Garrison to shine.
The second was in the Orange Bowl, with Garrison hurt and Buie and Shawne Alston filling in. In the middle of the first quarter, with WVU trailing 7-0, Buie caught a short pass from Geno Smith and appeared to be tackled for no gain.
But he wasn't. Clemson safety Rashard Hall wrapped him up and brought him down, but Buie landed on top of Hall, bounced and rolled off and ran down the sideline to set up West Virginia's first touchdown in what would eventually be a 70-33 blowout win.
"I don't know. It just happened,'' Buie said when asked if he'd figured out that play yet. "I rolled on top of him and put my hand down and saw that I was still up. There was no whistle, so I just kept running.''
Oddly enough, though, the play in the Orange Bowl isn't the one that sticks with Buie. He claims that he hasn't even watched it since returning from Florida and going over the game tape. Some guys would have that on a continuous loop as a computer screen saver.
The hit at Maryland? Well, that one forced Buie to rethink things a bit.
"I don't think my body was a hundred percent ready to enter a college season and play the reps that I did,'' Buie said. "But [now] I've had a long time to get my body strong and get ready for the season.
"Football's a physical game. If you get hit you've got to get back up and get ready for the next play. But you definitely learn that you can't run straight up.''
As Buie prepares for his sophomore season - again battling Garrison and Alston for the job as WVU's primary running back - he's doing so with an eye toward changing the way he runs. Those aren't wholesale changes, of course, but significant little ones.