WVU football: Top rusher may sit for Dukes
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- James Madison running back Dae'Quan Scott played only the first half of Saturday's 42-3 victory against Alcorn State, but did enough to win the Colonial Athletic Association's offensive player of the week award.
Scott had 107 yards rushing and scored on runs of 1 and 67 yards on 13 carries. He added 39 yards on five receptions and a 10-yard touchdown reception late in the first half gave the Dukes a 28-0 halftime lead, but that was the last action of the day for Scott.
He rolled an ankle on the play and is not likely to play for FCS No. 5 JMU in Saturday's 4:30 p.m. game against No. 9 WVU. Coach Mickey Matthews said Scott is "very questionable" for the game at FedEx Field.
"He's probably the best football player we have," Matthews said. "On that touchdown pass, he got his ankle caught underneath one of their players and he didn't play anymore. We put ice on it immediately at the half and it was swollen pretty good (Sunday) night.
"Ankles just don't do well, but if you know Dae'Quan, he'll go and get a new ankle somewhere so he can play because he loves to play so much. I don't know, but it doesn't look very good right now."
The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Scott is JMU's leading rusher (20 carries, 180 yards, three touchdowns) and receiver (eight receptions, 90 yards, two touchdowns) and has was the preseason all-conference return specialist.
"It's going to affect us because he's just a tremendous player," Matthews said. "Whether it's us or West Virginia, you just don't have a lot of guys like that."
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WVU ISN'T sure about its running back situation, either. Sophomore Dustin Garrison, last year's leading rusher who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in December at practice for the Orange Bowl, sat out the season-opener against Marshall and might not play Saturday.
"We haven't made any decision whatsoever," Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "It's the same as it was a week ago."
The Mountaineers continue to preach patience. Holgorsen said there is no deadline to make a decision about a medical redshirt, which would keep Garrison out all season.
"We're going to continue to be smart with it and he's going to continue to get his knee as healthy as he can," Holgorsen said. "We may come to a point where we'll play him if we need him. If not, we won't.
"It's a long season. That's a position that takes hits and that's a position that needs a lot of depth. Last year we started the season with five tailbacks. We ended with two."
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SATURDAY'S GAME will be televised on Root Sports. The Big 12 announced Monday WVU's Sept. 22 home game against Maryland will kick off at noon and be televised on FX.
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ONE OF THE strongest appeals for playing the neutral site game in Landover, Md., is the access to the Northern Virginia and metropolitan Washington, D.C., areas the Mountaineers heavily recruit.
WVU is considered the home team for the game, even though it's far from Mountaineer Field, and will enjoy some of the same recruiting privileges it would have for a regular home game.
"We're able to distribute tickets to recruits," Holgorsen said. "We can have no contact with them, but as guys are calling, like they do each and every week to request tickets to a home game, we can give each kid two tickets. The only difference is we can't have contact with them. When it's a home game on campus, we can."
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THE MOUNTAINEERS rushed for 347 yards against Marshall, the second-highest total in 14 games under Holgorsen. WVU had 367 yards last season against Bowling Green, with 291 coming from Garrison.
While 300-yard games used to be the norm, WVU has only five others since the end of the 2007 season, when the offense averaged 297 yards per game.
"I don't know how much they're going to run it. I think he's going to throw it," Matthews said of Holgorsen. "I think he gets bored. They make so many yards passing that Dana calls some runs so the running backs won't quit."
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HOLGORSEN HAD high praise for James Madison's combination of Scott and quarterback Justin Thorpe, the 2009 CAA rookie of the year who missed all but one game of the 2010 season with a knee injury and five games last season because of a suspension. He has won his last 11 regular-season starts.
Holgorsen was more complimentary of the JMU defense, though.
The Dukes led the CAA in total, scoring and rushing defense in 2011 and were No. 2 in pass defense. They were No. 16 nationally in scoring defense, No. 11 in total defense, No. 13 in rush defense and No. 32 in pass defense.
"It's what they're known for," Holgorsen said. "They've been a top-20 team defense for as long as Coach Matthews has been there. Their middle linebacker (Stephon Robertson) is as good a player as I've seen on tape in quite some time. He makes a ton of tackles and is extremely active. Their safeties are good. They're sound in what they do and they tackle well. They've only missed 10 tackles on two games. I wish we could say that."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.