Now, though, is the first time this season that the Mountaineers truly look equipped to take whatever is given. Through the first four games, West Virginia was averaging an anemic 76.5 rushing yards per game. Garrison himself had more than that by the end of the first quarter against Bowling Green. By the end of the game he and the rest of the team had 360 rushing yards. Only once since Rich Rodriguez hastily packed his bags for Michigan in 2007 have the Mountaineers run for more yards.
And they have never done it in an offense that also averages 363 yards throwing the football.
"I think every game so far could have been like this,'' said Shawne Alston, who gained 49 yards and scored two touchdowns on just eight carries. "It was just a matter of the backs hitting the holes.''
Well, that might be a bit of an overstatement. But the point is that possibilities for the running game have always been there. It just took a few games for the Mountaineers to discover it.
And now it is up to Garrison and the rest of the West Virginia backs to keep it going. Remember, heading into Saturday's game with Bowling Green, Garrison had never started. Andrew Buie and Vernard Roberts are still factors in the run game. Garrison will certainly get the first chance to run the ball Saturday against UConn, but the others now have something to chase, too. And competition can only make the ground game even better.
"I tell the guys that every Saturday is a chance to become a legend,'' said Gillespie. "Dustin took advantage of his opportunity.''
BRIEFLY: Garrison was named the team's offensive champion by the coaches, while cornerback Keith Tandy and kicker Tyler Bitancurt won the defensive and special teams honors, respectively. Russell Houghton-James and Ben Tomasek were the scout team champions.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.