West Virginia hasn't run the football much in the Dana Holgorsen era -- why would you if you've got Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and friends?
But that doesn't mean Holgorsen wouldn't want every one of his weapons available for his team's crucial Big 12 road debut at Texas on Saturday. Unfortunately for him and the Mountaineers, though, that won't be the case: Holgorsen confirmed on his Thursday night radio show that senior tailback Shawne Alston has yet to fully recover from a thigh bruise suffered in Week 3 against James Madison and won't be making the trip to Austin.
"He tried to go here for the last couple of days and just wasn't able," Holgorsen said, as quoted by the West Virginia MetroNews. "He's going to continue to get that thigh worked on and we'll hopefully get him back next week."
Alston confirmed the absence on Twitter, shooting down some rumors in the process:
Me not making the trip is due strictly to medical reasons.. My coaches would never withhold me from being there to support my team... #relax— Shawne Alston (@Alston_20) October 5, 2012
Alston's absence won't be felt nearly as keenly as one like Bailey's or Austin's would be --sophomore Andrew Buie is the Mountaineers' leading rusher with 226 yards to Alston's 185, and Alston's slow recovery obviously didn't do much to slow things down vs. Baylor. Still, at a team-high (among tailbacks) 6.2 yards-per-carry, Alston might be the biggest home-run hitter in the WVU backfield -- a dimension he flashed in the season opener against Marshall when he gained 123 yards on just 16 carries.
Against a Texas secondary that shapes up as the most challenging Smith has faced yet, Alston's change-of-pace skills might have come in handy more than ever. It seems unlikely his injury will make or break West Virginia's chances Saturday regardless, but it's also safe to say his absence won't help matters any, either.