ORLANDO, Fla. -- In the lead-up to Tuesday night's 23-7 loss to North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl, WVU players and coaches refused to spend much time talking about anything other than the game itself. But after the season ended with another defeat, Shawne Alston opened up about the events of recent weeks.

There were plenty of storylines to be covered in the immediate aftermath of what was an ugly performance against the Wolfpack, and Alston was candid with almost every question he faced from reporters.

He started by confirming he did, indeed, make a post on his Facebook page from inside the West Virginia locker room at halftime of the Champs Sports Bowl, when Alston and company were down 10-7.

"I did. Yeah, that was me," the sophomore running back said with a nervous smile. "My phone was right beside me...coaches were making adjustments, and we had a little bit of free time. You're going to get me in trouble."

Whether head coach Bill Stewart or others see fit to punish Alston for his untimely usage of the popular social media tool (he wrote "2nd half is the best half!!! Let's go!!") or create a sort of policy on Facebook and Twitter usage remains to be seen, but Alston's innocent message has already drawn questions about how focused the Mountaineers truly were for Tuesday night's game.

But the Hampton, Va., native claimed that the oft-discussed coaching changes that will begin taking place shortly after the calendar flips to 2011 in the coming days were not a distraction during the team's preparation for the Champs Sports Bowl.

"I don't think it was a distraction," Alston insisted. "I think when you come in and say things like ‘distraction' most of the time you're just making excuses.

"We knew what's at stake. We knew we had a game today against N.C. State. We knew they blitzed a lot. We knew they were a good team. But we just didn't come out and execute on all cylinders."

Players were told to not share their thoughts on the coaching moves instituted by WVU athletic director Oliver Luck in the days before the game, but with the season over and the changes imminent, Alston offered his take on the situation.

"Coaching changes? I don't really know what I thought about it," he said. "I was kind of in between. I like working with [running backs] Coach [Chris] Beatty. He recruited me. He teaches me a lot. I know so much more about the game of football than I did before I got to West Virginia. Hopefully he gets to stay.

"But that's something we can't control as players. I mean, they felt they needed to make a change, and hopefully the change works out. We can't do nothing about it. Our opinion doesn't matter when it comes to things like this."

Alston and his teammates on offense will be those most effected by Luck's decision, which includes the removal of offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen and offensive line coach Dave Johnson as coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen comes to Morgantown.

Holgorsen has free reign to make other moves on the offensive side of the ball as well, meaning Beatty, receivers coach Lonnie Galloway and tight ends coach Dave McMichael all could possibly be gone when the 2011 season begins.

So the question was posed to Alston: did the WVU offensive coaches, including Mullen and Johnson, get a fair shake?

"I can't really speak on that, because it's still a business, and when it gets to a business issue..." Alston said, trailing off. "You all have got jobs too. Anybody can lose jobs any day. I mean, I think it's unfortunate that it happened, because I like the guys. Coach Johnson and Coach Mullen, they're all good people in my book. But I mean, it's a business. It's a job."

That job will now go to Holgorsen, who will begin to install his own offense, which has been uniquely successful at several coaching stops in the southwest, this spring.

It's an exciting time for Alston, who may become more of a feature even in Holgorsen's pass-oriented offense with the departure of senior running back Noel Devine. But it's also a time filled with uncertainty, but Alston is optimistic even though he doesn't know what exactly might be in store.

"I don't know what it's going to be like, but I mean, I'm always looking forward to a new challenge," said the 5-foot-11, 222-pounder. "Sometimes change can be good, and sometimes it can be bad. We're just hoping for positive results when he does get here and plug his offense in. We've just got to see what the future holds."

"I think we've got a lot of talent returning, with me and Tavon [Austin] and Geno [Smith], Stedman [Bailey], Bradley [Starks]. We've got a lot of talent returning, so I think the future is very bright for us. So it's going to get better."

For the team's offense, at least, it couldn't get much worse than the turnover-filled performance against North Carolina State.

The seven points WVU scored were the lowest by a Mountaineer team since a 24-3 setback against East Carolina in 2008 (Stewart's first loss as head coach) and only the second time West Virginia has been held to seven points or fewer since a Gator Bowl loss to Maryland at the end of the 2003 season.

Stewart was rather standoffish in his postgame press conference in pointing out the way the Wolfpack's frequent use of the zone blitz impacted his offense's ability to make plays. Like his head coach, Alston said WVU expected that tactic to be in play but failed to take make N.C. State pay for its decision to bring extra defenders on essentially every play.

"They didn't catch us off guard," Alston insisted. "We knew coming in they were going to blitz us a lot. That's their defense. We had a plan going in, and I think the plan worked a little bit, but we were just [struggling] to sustain drives. We were like, sometimes we were good, sometimes it would be bad. When you turn over the ball the way we did, it's just hard to pull out a victory."

Instead, for the second time in the two years Alston has been a Mountaineer, the team ended its season with a bowl loss.

Knowing he will be an upperclassman who may be tasked with a more considerable load in 2011, the Phoebus High School alumnus promised to do what it takes to avoid that same feeling of disappointment.

"The motivation for next year is sky-high, because we know how good we can be, but we still have to reach our potential at all times," Alston said. "The motivation factor, it plays a big part. My motivation going into next year, I just want to win."

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