MIAMI - Dana Holgorsen understands the interest regarding what he's going to do to replace Dustin Garrison in West Virginia's backfield for Wednesday night's Orange Bowl game. Or at least he doesn't sigh and roll his eyes every time he gets the question.
The Mountaineers coach, however, wants everyone to know that it isn't as if his team must replace an irreplaceable player.
This wasn't losing quarterback Geno Smith, whose backups have gathered dust most of the season, or Tavon Austin or Stedman Bailey, who seem to have caught just about every meaningful pass Smith has thrown this season.
Shawne Alston, who Holgorsen said on Sunday will get the start in place of the injured Garrison, has more touchdowns (10) than anyone on the team save for Bailey (11). And as for Andrew Buie, well, sometimes memories are short.
"Let's keep in mind that throughout fall camp we thought Buie was a little bit better than Garrison. He just got hurt,'' Holgorsen said Sunday just before WVU's practice on the immaculate soccer field of Barry University. "He's a good quality player and we look forward to getting him in the lineup and see what he can do.''
First, though, Alston will get his chance. Used mostly as a short-yardage specialist throughout the season, the 5-foot-11, 221-pound junior will line up with Smith in the backfield and the game plan won't change, Holgorsen insisted, because of any difference in running styles between Alston and the smaller true freshmen, Garrison and Buie.
"No, and that's been something I've stuck with since the very beginning,'' Holgorsen said. "I don't care who they are. We're not going to change our offense due to the fact that one guy weighs more than the other guy. It's about going forward with the football.''
Garrison injured a knee during a Friday practice here and will require major surgery that's expected to sideline him until next season. And he wasn't even hit.
"There was no contact whatsoever,'' Holgorsen said. "He just planted wrong and it's one of those deals that happen.
"Everybody across the country loses guys. You've just got to replace them. It's the same thing we're doing at safety. We lost a great player in Terence Garvin. And we've had other guys that have stepped up. Not having a guy like Dustin is tough, but I can't wait to throw Buie in there and watch him make some plays.''