MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The goal of Dana Holgorsen's offense is to play fast and the value is that defenses can't keep up effectively.
The opposition is forced to keep tired players who are pressed into mismatches on the field or risk substituting and watching West Virginia snap the ball before the defense gets set.
The goal of Dana Holgorsen's career is to go fast, too, and the value again is that defenses can't keep up schematically. Holgorsen is going to adjust his offense in such a way that it's broad enough to adapt to the personnel, but focused enough to still do what it does best.
"The evolution of the offense, from the plays to the experimentation to trying specific things, is not going to stop any time soon," he said. "We're going to keep working as we go."
It's happening right now at WVU and if you look close enough, you'll see it at Mountaineer Field on Saturday when the eighth-ranked Mountaineers (2-0) play host to Maryland (2-1) at noon (FX telecast).
WVU will line up with a running back to both sides of quarterback Geno Smith and then one behind him. That's the diamond formation Holgorsen more or less invented out of "sheer boredom" during the offseason before his 2010 season at Oklahoma State.
Part of the plan was to create a crowd at the line of scrimmage - five offensive linemen and four teammates in the backfield - and isolate receivers on the outside. If a defense wanted to focus on the front, the receivers had an advantage. If a defense wanted to worry about the receivers, the running game was available.
But that's old. What's new now are the new ways the Mountaineers are learning to use the diamond.
Shawne Alston is the starting running back, though at 230 or so pounds, he's 30 or 40 or 50 pounds bigger than most of Holgorsen's backs in the past. He's sometimes surrounded by similarly large bodies, like Ryan Clarke or Donovan Miles, but also by the smaller Andrew Buie.
The 5-foot-9, 195-pound Buie is averaging 8.5 yards across 14 carries this season, but can block like a fullback and he can run routes and catch passes like a receiver. The Mountaineers can go in a variety of directions and Holgorsen knows it.
"It's very valuable to have a guy who can do all that stuff," he said. "Shawne is a little limited in the passing game from a receiving standpoint because he's a big, physical kind of guy, but that's probably why, when you look back at the history of our players, we've always had guys like Buie who can do all that stuff."
Yet Alston is a weapon, too. He's feet tall and can power through people, but he has a knack to run the inside and outside zone plays the Mountaineers like. He also wears down a defense and becomes harder to tackle the faster the offense plays and the less time it allows defenders to recover.
There's now a place for both.
"Shawne's our starter and he's a great player, but we need a variety of players," Holgorsen said. "That's why, when you look at the people we're recruiting from a recruiting standpoint, we're recruiting a lot of different body types, the kind of guys who can bring different tools to the table."
Or you can look at the backfield today, past even Buie and Alston and Clarke and Miles. WVU's newest feature is former George Washington High tight end Cody Clay.