The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 4, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN - WVU’s Alston ‘ready to go out and play’

MIAMI — Of all the games man plays, from darts to tennis, from checkers to baseball, from bridge to basketball, football is the one that depends most on attitude.

This is due, in part, because it is played only on a weekly basis, which makes each game that much more meaningful, and when one considers how seriously its followers take it and the scrutiny under which each competitor is placed, it becomes packed with the kind of pressure that requires a certain type of person to handle it.

Shawne Alston thinks he’s the perfect person to do that.

No, he didn’t come out and state that as a matter of fact, but as he readied himself for a starting assignment he didn’t really expect to have — not last week and certainly not last April — he is free of the pressure that often can break a player down and eager only to prove himself.

The stage is enormous, of course, it being the Orange Bowl on national television, and if this is a matchup between a pair of three-loss teams in Alston’s West Virginia University and Atlantic Coast Conference champion Clemson, it is also expected to be the most entertaining of the remaining bowl games and therefore one of the most viewed.

Shawne Alston doesn’t care, even if he wasn’t supposed to be starting until Dustin Garrison injured his knee severely enough to require surgery and six months of rehabilitation during a non-contract drill less than a week prior to kickoff.

“I don’t feel no pressure on my back,” Alston would say. “I’m ready to go out and play and show what I can do.”

He understands that there are those who would get the jitters, whose stomach would be tumbling like an interior Mary Lou Retton the night before the game.

He understands but says that is not him.

“Sometimes people get nervous when they lay responsibility on them, but this is the moment I have lived for. I know I am prepared. It’s just a matter of going out on the field and showing them,” he said.

It seems to be fated this way for Alston, which might be a good omen for those who believe in mystical interference in our daily lives.

It is not of his making, just as it was not of his making that someone would rear-end him in his automobile prior to spring practice, giving him a painful case of whiplash that kept him out all spring, kept him from showing what he had to a new coach in Dana Holgorsen.

“Throughout a season there are so many things that happen that you can’t control. You cannot make excuses about it or look for reasons why it happens. We just have to move on and keep rolling,” he said, referring both to his injury and the one suffered by Garrison.

Spring practice became a torture chamber for him.

“It was miserable. That’s the word I use — miserable,” he said. “I’d just keep asking myself, ‘When is my neck going to be ready so I can go out and play?’”

The answer was that it wouldn’t be ready in the spring, and when it was ready head coach

Bill Stewart was gone and Holgorsen had been promoted to head coach from offensive coordinator/head coach in waiting.

“I would sit around and get discouraged a lot,” Alston said of his spring. “I didn’t even know if I would be able to play this season. It was just hard.”

But come fall he was ready. He impressed Holgorsen, who’d had a running back in Kendall Hunter at Oklahoma State who was headed for the NFL. Now he had a group of young, inexperienced runners, each offering something different.

Who knew that group would be down to two by the bowl game, depleted by academics, injury and attrition. Alston was the biggest one left, the most experienced, a sometime starter during the year and a man who ran the ball into the end zone from up close.

He would start over Andrew Buie, the two being different types of runners but wise enough to know they had to help each other.

“Andrew is definitely faster and has better moves. I’m bigger in size, maybe break a few more tackles. We’re both good in pass protection,” he said. “We always talk to each other. If I’m on the sidelines I tell him what I see, and he does the same with me. You might have two different perspectives from the sidelines. You might see a lot of different stuff. You communicate. In the film room it’s the same.”

Now it’s time to go out and do it, play the game the way it is supposed to be played ... play it hard and with an attitude. That is the way they like their football in West Virginia.

“It means everything to the state of West Virginia. Just the way that the fans are — they are second to none in the country. I have been receiving tweets and Facebook messages encouraging me. It is definitely great to play for them,” he said.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos