Mountaineer Gameday: Texas Tech takes notice of Buie’s breakout game
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia could have its first Heisman Trophy winner this season and it wouldn't surprise if two other players in the Mountaineers' high-scoring attack appear on a ballot or two.
It was a bit of a surprise, however, when WVU's triumvirate of record-setters - quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey - didn't shine the brightest with the eyes of Texas staring upon West Virginia's Big 12 road debut.
In one of the Mountaineer football program's biggest wins last Saturday, a 48-45 triumph over Texas, it was a running back who hooked the 'Horns defense.
WVU was buoyed by Buie.
Andrew Buie, a 5-foot-9, 187-pound sophomore, had 207 rushing yards and 66 receiving yards against Texas, which got the Mountaineers' opponent this Saturday, Texas Tech (3:30 p.m., ABC), attention when watching film.
"He's got good speed and he runs like a 230-pounder," Texas Tech Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "He breaks a lot of tackles. Tough to do that when you're running the type of running plays they run; you're going to run zone plays, draw plays and a dive play up the middle.
"You have to break tackles."
Buie did that and more in generating 281 all-purpose yards against Texas. He has shouldered a larger load each week with senior Shawne Alston recovering slowly from a thigh bruise and sophomore Dustin Garrison being eased back into the rotation after offseason knee surgery.
Buie touched the ball 12 times in the season opener against Marshall and another dozen the next week versus James Madison. His total went up to 17 against Maryland and 26 against Baylor.
He had 31 rushes, three receptions and one kick return against Texas.
"The concern is the wear and tear," second-year West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "As I've mentioned a hundred times, the wear and tear is different on running backs than quarterback or a receiver or a corner or a safety that doesn't take that (hit) every time.
"He carried it 31 times and he got hit 31 times. He blocks, which is hard, and he runs routes, which is taxing."
Buie flourished in the second and fourth quarters at Texas.
The Jacksonville, Fla., native carried 11 times for 71 yards and caught two passes for 40 yards in the second quarter. The 111 combined yards accounted for 84 percent of the team's offensive production in that 15-minute period.
The fourth quarter was similar when the Mountaineers scored 14 unanswered points and pushed the lead to double figures with 1:18 left.
Buie had 100 of his career-high rushing yardage in the fourth quarter, and he carried the ball on seven plays of an eight-play, 76-yard scoring drive that made it 48-38 with 78 seconds left.
Buie rushed on the first three plays and the last four plays of that drive, which culminated with Buie's 5-yard touchdown run.
In the second and fourth quarters, WVU had 262 yards of offense. Buie had 213. He played a part in 14 of WVU's 26 first downs.
"We all think Buie's a good player," West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "He's young, so the more times we hand the ball to him he just gets better and better.
"The biggest thing, in my opinion, is that last drive when they know we're going to run the ball and he still kept breaking through. That guy, I don't know how much he weighs or whatever, but he always goes forward and he finishes runs forward.
"He's a powerful guy. That last drive was basically Buie and it won us the game."
With every pass, Smith resets multiple school records. With every reception, Austin and Bailey readjust some type of pass catching mark. The offense ranks No. 3 in yardage nationally, but the No. 64 rushing offense might have something else to flummox opponents.
"When you start getting a good pass rush, they've got a good counter punch in terms of running delays and draws and those type of things with him and also have good screens with him," Tuberville said of Buie.
"They do a good job of that."