Garrison shines vs. LSU; can he keep it up?

Dustin Garrison reached the end zone a whopping 62 times in high school. So, it's no surprise that he developed a routine when the 2010 Houston Chronicle All-Greater Houston Offensive Player of the Year reached the end zone.

He'd salute the crowd after celebrating with his teammates.

That's exactly what he did when he scored the lone rushing touchdown in West Virginia's 47-21 loss to LSU on Saturday.

Fans probably should've saluted back, as he was a shining moment in a relatively disappointing night for Mountaineer Nation.

"Dustin came in last week and gave us a half of really good football. His production in one half of football was as good of a performance we've had in one half this year," said head coach Dana Holgorsen.

In the loss to Tigers against perhaps the best defense in the nation, Garrison had a team-high 10 carries for 46 yards and the Mountaineers' lone rushing touchdown. Add four catches for 26 yards including a 19-yarder to set up his 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter to cut LSU's lead to just six, and Garrison's impact on the game. Behind receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, Garrison had the most all-purpose yardage for the Mountaineers.

"He just came in and made some plays, but these guys are all interchangeable at this point. We'll put all of them in there, and whoever gets in a groove, we'll play them. He found a few seams, caught the ball well and was really good in protection," said running backs coach Robert Gillespie.

Garrison is the Mountaineers' third-leading rusher with 13 carries for 65 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow freshmen Vernard Roberts and Andrew Buie have more carries and rushing yards.

While Roberts and Buie are averaging less than 3.5 yards per carry, Garrison is averaging five yards per rush.

In addition, Garrison has nine catches for 86 yards – the most of any running back on the roster.

"The more you're in the game, the more comfortable you get. The first few plays, you're a little nervous especially when you're not starting, but as the game goes on you start to calm down," Garrison said.

It may be a bit of a surprise to fans that Garrison isn't being considered for more of a full-time starter type of role after his performance against LSU. But, the consensus is that all three aren't necessarily at the point where they are at that level.

"It depends on if you have three freshmen or if you have an All-American back out there. We're searching for guys that are every-down backs, which we don't have yet," Holgorsen said. "When you had a guy like (Holgorsen's starting running back last year at Oklahoma State) Kendall Hunter who's about to start for the 49ers, that means you have to give it to that guy a little more. We'll get to the point that we trust those guys more and give them the ball more."

Buie has been dealing with injuries since the second game of the season, and Roberts and Garrison have done most of the work outside of junior bigger back Shawne Alston.

"Who knows if he's going to be the guy that sparks it next game. We'll just have to wait and see," Gillespie said.

Garrison, obviously, wants to be the starter and get the majority of the carries. He won't complain if it doesn't happen, though.

"It would make me happy and all, but it's all about the team and what it makes the team win," he said. "If it takes me third or fourth string to win games, that's fine. Coach Holgorsen and Gillespie know what they're doing."


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