That doesn't mean Alston won't be a factor, though. Not only is he the only big back the Mountaineers really have in comparison to Dustin Garrison, Andrew Buie and Vernard Roberts, he's more than just a change of pace. He's another healthy body at a position that requires a lot of them.
"It's a long season, especially at running back. You need more than one guy,'' Holgorsen said. "Running back's probably the hardest position to play in the game because you have so much for them to do, and they take such a beating with pass protection and running the ball and being involved in the pass game.
"Throughout the course of the year you're going to need four or five guys to step up. We're a running-back-oriented team anyway with the amount of backs that we play in two-back and three-back [formations].''
Holgorsen also likes the fact that Alston provides a bit of maturity in an otherwise wet-behind-the-ears collection of runners. The other three tailbacks getting carries are all true freshmen.
Of course, that Alston's name is brought up in the same sentence with maturity is also new this season. Remember, it was Alston who was discovered to have been posting messages on his Facebook page at halftime of WVU's bowl game last December.
Chalk that up as a lesson learned.
"I regret it. I think to a lot of people it gave off a sense of not being focused or whatever, that I wasn't into the game,'' Alston said. "But it is what it is. I won't do it again, I know that much.''
While Alston is no longer chided by teammates for his halftime misstep at the bowl game, he will likely never shake the kidding about his speed. Even if most everyone was willing to let it go, Irvin never will.
"Ah, man, he's the worst,'' Alston said of the boisterous defensive end. "It's between him and Tavon.''
Truth be told, if Alston was confident enough in his speed he could settle the matter rather easily. He could have someone in WVU's video room time his 50-yard dash in the snow. He could put Austin's 80-yard run and his 52-yarder side-by-side and see if Austin really was faster.
Again, though, remember that Alston is a realist above all else.
"No, I don't want to do that,'' Alston said of timing the video tapes. "I don't want to face reality.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.