Alston gives WVU run game a boost
MORGANTOWN -- At the beginning of Friday's win against Iowa State, it was easy to see that the West Virginia University football team was working with a much healthier Shawne Alston than it had the last few weeks since he returned from a thigh injury.
The Hampton, Va., native surpassed the 100-yard mark in rushing for the first time since the Mountaineers' season opener against Marshall and finished with 130 yards on a season-high 19 carries.
West Virginia had 239 yards on the ground, its third-highest total of the season, in a 31-24 road win.
"His week leading up to this game was a lot better than it had been," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "Last week's game (against Oklahoma) wasn't his type of game. He got the knee brace off, which gave him a little bit more mobility. With him back there, we're better."
Kansas (1-10, 0-8 Big 12) visits West Virginia (6-5, 3-3) at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, in Milan Puskar Stadium. Root Sports (Huntington cable Ch. 27) has the telecast.
Alston teamed up with Tavon Austin in the backfield to make a dynamic duo who complemented one another pretty well and helped give the Iowa State defense a different look throughout the game that it wasn't used to seeing.
"They're a very good defense. Just a grind-it-out, physical type of defense, and you have to be able to lean on those guys a little bit," said running backs coach Robert Gillespie. "We wanted to get the ball to Tavon, but we also knew that we had to get in there and just get the tough, gritty yards, and (Alston) is our best option to do that."
While Austin didn't have the 344-yard rushing performance he had against Oklahoma, getting that variety and the differences in the style of play allowed the Mountaineers to have success offensively through the ground game.
"What Tavon did last week was supernatural. That doesn't happen every week at running back. He's just a guy who naturally has that 'it,'" Gillespie said. "It definitely gave us a good combination of some speed and some power in the game."
For Alston, it was just nice to be back out on the field again.
He got seven carries in the TCU game for 16 yards after not registering a carry since the James Madison game Sept. 15, but then received just one carry in the next two games prior to the Iowa State game.
"Today was just a day to go out here and showcase what I could do," Alston said.
"There were a couple times in there where Tavon was just a decoy, and I think that throws the defense a little bit and, with the job the offensive line was doing in the trenches, it was only right that I had a good day."