Certainly the touchdown run was revered by the coaching staff, but the reaction after it meant something, too, for is exactly the kind of player Holgorsen wants to develop, a player with an team attitude, much like quarterback Geno Smith.
Buie had much to do in this off-season and might not even have gotten much of a chance if Garrison had healed completely by the opener. But he did what was necessary, growing himself physically and altering a running style that seemed more fit for a demolition derby than a sprint to the end zone.
“He runs like he’s 240 pounds,” running backs coach Robert Gillespie said of the 5-9, 188-pounder. “He has to understand that every run you don’t have to run someone over. Sometimes you get tackled, and when you do you get tackled with half your body. He understands not to take head-on shots now, when to fall for forward or go down. He understands how every run should be run now.”
Holgorsen echoed that appraisal.
“He is a guy that plays reckless,” Holgorsen said. “He plays so hard, sometimes I think he just closes his eyes and just runs into people. He’s becoming a better space guy. He’s always been a try-hard, effort guy. He and Dustin were two totally different backs last year. Buie is a guy who has been playing really well, and I probably should have given him the ball a little bit more.”
With Alston and Smith and Garrison in the wings, unless WVU decides to redshirt him, WVU has built a dangerous running game, which makes the Mountaineers far more versatile as an offense than they were a year a go.
“We knew last year we struggled to run the ball. There will be some up and down days, but never like last year, 40 yards rushing,” Gillespie said. “Now you’ve got a healthy senior, you’ve got a sophomore that played a lot of plays last year, and you’ve got an offensive line that played a lot of snaps last year.*
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.