Gillespie, once a running back for the Washington Redskins and a captain at the University of Florida, builds his players up, but doesn't let them get too big. He knocks his players down - sometimes literally when he gets physically involved in practice - but never lets them get too low.
"He's a great coach," Garrison said of Gillespie. "He knows what he's doing. He's real tough, real straight forward and he's always making sure I'm the same Dustin I was in high school, that I'm just as hungry and ready to make plays. Meetings, practice, things like that, it doesn't matter. He's always on me and keeping me focused."
The congratulations lined up for a long time after Garrison's performance against Bowling Green until Gillespie finally got his chance.
"The first thing I said was, 'You put the ball on the ground too many times,' " Gillespie said.
The praise followed.
"My job is to critique and correct," Gillespie said. "Neither of those is fun, but my job isn't to pat them on the butt. My job is to get them better and once we get that right, we find the next thing to get better."
Garrison saw that response coming. Not only had he fumbled three times - one when he was stripped fighting for yards, two on what he called good hits on a cold, wet day he wasn't used to - but he knew Gillespie well enough to expect that reaction.
"He's always going to pat you on the back the day of the game," Garrison said. "After that, it's back to work to make sure you're focused on the next week."
Garrison knows this because he's been on both ends of the interactions with Gillespie after a game. He played a little in the first game of the season against Marshall and a little more a week later against Norfolk State. He didn't have a catch or a carry against Maryland, even as freshman Andrew Buie took a big hit that briefly knocked him out of that game and kept him out of the next two.
Gillespie found his 5-foot-8, 175-pound running back after that game, too, and told him not to be discouraged.
"He understood," Gillespie said. "Guys understand that other guys will get a chance and it's about what you do with that opportunity. That's what you do with a group of young guys. You feel your way around until you find the right fit and the right chemistry."
A week later, Garrison got his chance and made it work. He carried 10 times for 46 yards and a touchdown and added 46 yards on four receptions against LSU. He followed the Bowling Green game with 80 yards against UConn and a 14-yard touchdown run that showcased patience, vision and a move that dropped a defender to the turf.
"He's finally doing the things we saw on tape," Gillespie said. "He had plays in camp, just like everyone else, where he showed explosiveness. He and Buie came in and played like the guys we saw on their high school film. Both guys made plays at times, but I think, from a physical standpoint, Buie probably caught on a little faster.
"But Buie got banged up and when that happened, it was all about the opportunity. That opened the door for Garrison to be able to get in and get reps and get more reps until it finally happened."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142.