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WVU football: Garrison back on the shelf

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Running back Dustin Garrison had a setback last week in his recovery from December's ACL tear and isn't certain for Saturday's season-opener or beyond.

Mountaineers Coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday Garrison was sore last week and needed a few days off to feel right again. Garrison, who ran for a team-high 742 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman, tore his left ACL in the team's first practice in Miami before the Orange Bowl.

"The plan all along was to get him to game week and get him out there and see what happens," Holgorsen said. "We haven't made a decision to this point."

Senior Shawne Alston was named the starter last week and Holgorsen said sophomore Andrew Buie is "doing a good job for us." WVU's trouble is with depth, though, especially given injury histories for Alston and Buie. Alston's previous two seasons were hindered by knee and neck injuries. Buie missed time last season after taking big hits early.

Freshman Torry Clayton withdrew from school and returned home over the weekend. That leaves D'Vontis Arnold, a freshman walk-on from Florida's Miramar High, as the only other player at the position, though it appears Ryan Clarke, a bigger, blocking back who didn't touch the ball once last season, could have an expanded role.

Clarke's versatility is aided by the development of his backup, former linebacker Donovan Miles. Sophomore Cody Clay can play the position, as well as tight end.

"We've got quite a few bodies, but we're going to need every one of them, that's for sure," Holgorsen said.

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HOLGORSEN SAID he watched all of Marshall's 2011 games on film last week to familiarize himself with the opponent. That includes sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato, who Holgorsen complimented before making an unusual hint that what Holgorsen saw on film might not be what he sees on the field Saturday.

"I guess the question is, 'Which offense are they going to run?'" Holgorsen said. "There's been some speculation on that. Hopefully he's learning a second offense in as many years."

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THE MOST recent depth chart shows six first-team players who have started at least nine games on defense, plus a few others who had a handful starts and significant playing time in reserve roles. Holgorsen said the Mountaineers will nevertheless be young on defense, especially up front, where four or five true freshmen will play either defensive line or linebacker.

"We knew we'd have a strange combination of guys who are returning starters and who have never played and we have several redshirted freshmen who are in the same boat as the true freshman guys who have never played," Holgorsen said.

"We knew we'd need a lot of depth on defense and we purposely tried the best we possibly could in recruiting to get out there and see which guys could adjust to the college game. We feel like seven, eight, nine true freshmen could play based on need."

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LAST WEEK, Da'Asian Richardson, a 6-foot, 3-inch, 285-pound defensive lineman from Orange Park (Fla.) High, committed to WVU's 2013 recruiting class. Richardson could be WVU's first four-star defensive line high school recruit in more than 10 years, but he said he'll still take all five of his official visits.

Included are trips to WVU, Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi State and Oklahoma. On Monday's Big 12 Conference coaches' teleconference, Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops said his staff doesn't consider a player to be committed if he plans to take more visits.

"We tell them that and say, 'If that's the case, then you're not committed to us and we don't accept that commitment and we'll keep recruiting guys at your position,'" Stoops said.

"In the end, you're kidding yourself if you think that's a commitment. Just envision you tell your wife you're going to get married in February, but until we do, I'm going to date these other three girls all through September, October and November until we get married. It doesn't work that way."

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TEXAS REMAINS arguably the most high-profile team in the Big 12, but the Longhorns lack the high-profile quarterback found at WVU, Oklahoma and Kansas State or even a respected sleeper like the ones at Texas Tech and TCU.

Coach Mack Brown named sophomore David Ash the starter last week over junior Case McCoy. Ash won three of his six starts last season. He finished with 1,039 yards, eight interceptions and four touchdowns, and was the MVP of the Holiday Bowl win against Cal.

McCoy, who is Longhorns royalty as Colt McCoy's younger brother, won three of his five starts. He passed for 1,034 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions. All four picks came in the final game of the regular season.

"There are some people who don't know who their quarterback will be this weekend," Brown said. "I feel this is also a good spot for Case if he needs to come in. He can do a good job coming off the bench and helping the team win.

"Last year, we didn't have two guys who were capable. I think David had four snaps in the spring game and Case only had nine plays his whole freshman year. This year, I feel we're in a much better place."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at or 304-319-1142. His blog is at




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