CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Maybe, just maybe, once Dana Holgorsen finds a running back, West Virginia will have a ground game to go with its aerial show.
Yes, it's different to watch WVU football and not view the Mountaineers running through, around and past some opponents, but it's yet to happen.
Not that it's been needed, with guys like quarterback Geno Smith and receivers like Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey offering Wallendas-type thrills.
In its 3-1 start, WVU has rushed for 42 (Marshall), 102 (Norfolk State), 92 (Maryland) and 70 (LSU) yards. That's 306 yards, or 2.7 per rush and 76.5 per game. Fifty-three major college individual rushers have topped 306.
The Mountaineers rank 115th in rushing offense. Only BYU, Idaho, Miami (Ohio), Arizona and Florida Atlantic have gotten less on the ground.
Here's the deal. West Virginia proved it can move the ball with 533 yards in Saturday's loss to then-No. 2 LSU. It's the highest total offense figure in the Big East against a BCS-level foe this season (topped only by South Florida's 575 in Saturday's win over UTEP).
However, if the Mountaineers are going to beat really good teams like the Tigers - and they may not play one until going to nationally ranked USF for the regular-season finale - they'll need an improved ground game to move the chains and run the clock.
WVU is only 101st of 120 major teams in time of possession average in 2011.
Imagine what WVU's offense might be if it can get the run game off the ground. Right now, the Mountaineers are getting less than 17 percent of their yardage rushing, although 37 percent of the offensive plays have been runs.
Dustin Garrison offered a glimmer of hope for WVU's ground attack with 46 yards in 10 carries against LSU. Garrison came into the LSU game with only three carries on the season. His 17-yard run in the first half was WVU's longest this season. How un-Mountaineer-ish is that?
"He's a quick guy," WVU left tackle Don Barclay said of Garrison, who figures to get more opportunities against Bowling Green (3-1) on Saturday.
"He's a quick guy. He's not the biggest guy, but he loves football, he's quick and he's going to get the job done."
The Mountaineers obviously missed fellow true freshman Andrew Buie, who was a DNP for the LSU game with an injury. A third freshman, Vernard Roberts, leads WVU with 121 yards, and after two games out injured, 220-pound Shawne Alston has given Holgorsen's offense a needed bigger back - but he's had only 10 carries.
"It depends on if you have three freshmen or if you have an All-American back out there," Holgorsen said earlier this week. "We're searching for guys that are every-down backs, which we don't have yet. Dustin came in last week and gave us a half of really good football. His production in one half of football was as good a performance we've had in one half this year.
"When you had a guy like Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), who's about to start for the 49ers, that means you have to give it to that guy a little more. We'll get to the point that we trust those guys more and give them the ball more.
"The offensive line did a heck of a job at blocking (against LSU). Pass protection was great last week. Run blocking was relatively good. We're still missing a guy that can burst through a hole and get through it."
Garrison might be the guy.
"We just have to step up and make more plays," Garrison said after the LSU loss. "Honestly, it's the backs. The holes are there. The linemen are doing a good job. We've just got to execute. We have to go out there and run with a purpose."
There still are plenty of questions about WVU's offensive line play, however, despite a superb job of pass blocking for Smith - no sacks - against LSU's tough defense.