"You don't want a guy like Isaiah Bruce or Karl Joseph to be on all four special teams. They're young kids, both freshmen, and normally they'd play on special teams, but they're probably two of our top defensive players and they're playing at a very high level. We need to find people to replace them on special teams."
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THE BIG 12 will name its conference players of the week today and the Mountaineers have candidates for the offensive and defensive prizes. Bruce made 16 tackles and returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown against Marshall. Smith was named the national offensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Foundation on Sunday, and Holgorsen said Smith's performance was as good as any he'd seen.
Yet when the WVU staff picked its award winners Sunday, running back Shawne Alston was named the team's offensive player of the week. He carried 16 times for a career-high 123 yards and two touchdowns.
"Geno's going to get a lot of stuff nationally obviously and Geno played his best game since he's been here, so we could have very easily done that, but I guess I like to spread it out a little bit," Holgorsen said. "Shawne played his best game. Jeff Braun, a right guard, we considered giving it to him because he had his best game since he's been here. We could have given it to other linemen."
The win instead went to Alston, who imposed a physical running style from the very beginning and, according to Holgorsen, had "about 65 yards" after contact.
"He's a leader," Holgorsen said. "He thinks he's the baddest dude on the field. That's his mentality. He thinks he's the boss of the locker room, which he probably is. He's just a tremendous leader for us at this point."
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NO LESS intriguing was the staff's pick for the team's special teams player of the week. That went to senior receiver Ryan Nehlen, who didn't return a punt or kickoff or make a tackle.
His only statistical contribution came when he recovered a meaningless onside kick late in the game.
"He just blocked really well," Holgorsen said. "I didn't think anybody really, really, really stood out from a tackling standpoint or a blocking standpoint and special teams is all about tackling and blocking in space. So much has always been made about special teams with the kicker or the punter or the returners, but if you look back at what we've done with the special teams award since I've been here, it's pretty much always been given to a guy nobody notices.
"He's either blocking or tackling or doing something different to help. Ryan's a guy who takes special teams very seriously. He may not be on all of them - he's not on the kickoff team, but he's on the rest of them - but it matters to him. That award is a way to throw guys a bone so they know it's important."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.