Many wondered why running back Andrew Buie’s name didn’t appear on the initial depth chart to open the season, and on Tuesday head coach Dana Holgorsen gave the reason.
Buie will use his redshirt, as the Mountaineers find themselves in the middle of a log-jam at the running back position.
During Holgorsen’s press conference he elaborated on the decision, saying that Buie had to get himself ready “mentally and physically” and he had not shown it up to this point.
“He had some decisions. Some of these are decisions that he makes as well,” Holgorsen said of Buie. “Did we force him to? No.”
Although Holgorsen said Buie needed to get “mentally and physically” prepared, I think it’s fair to assume there might not be enough carries to go around this season. With Charles Sims, Dustin Garrison, Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood all competing for playing time, it’ll be hard enough to get four backs the carries needed, no matter how diverse the offense is, let alone five.
One must remember that Buie can be used as a slot wide receiver as well, but my gut tells me this came down to a numbers game, and ultimately Buie chose to wait it out one more year.
Sims will be gone after this season and Buie will still only be a redshirt junior, which will give him two years to prove himself. The backfield will still be crowded, no doubt, but Sims will most likely see the bulk of the carries this year, which leaves Buie in a bind way down on the depth chart.
His draft stock would also take a plunge if he didn’t see the field, remember he must consider his own future. He decided on what was best for himself and it doesn’t come at a great risk, because the Mountaineers are stacked in the backfield.
Pittsburgh transfer Rushel Shell will be eligible to play when Buie is done taking his redshirt season. Buie will ultimately be left in the same position next season as this one, with Shell, Garrison, Smith, and Smallwood all returning.
Eventually, he’ll have to step up and be ready to compete for playing time. West Virginia’s depth continues to grow as Holgorsen’s recruiting classes stack up one after another, so the days of handing someone a starting spot due to lack of depth are over.
Players must compete against each other to earn their way on to the field, it’s the best way to ensure the best players hit the field on Saturday’s. Look around, it happens at all the top programs across the country every fall, and it’s happening at WVU. This is certainly a step in the right direction.
Holgorsen did say he’s glad so many players will be able to redshirt, because it’s a sign that the program has built a solid foundation. Young players won’t be needed to play as much as they did last season, and that’s a good thing.
The true freshmen that played on defense last year had to learn on the job, by trial and error, where as this season that shouldn’t be the case, with the defensive system already in place and the players a year older. The true freshmen that will play should be able to ease their way in, as opposed to last season.
Other players that will redshirt this season include Shelton Gibson, Elijah Wellman, Jacky Marcellus, Stone Underwood, Marcel Lazard, Tyler Tezeno, D’Vante Henry, Isaac McDonald, Al-Rasheed Benton and Grant Lingafelter. Each of those players are newcomers this season other than Buie.
Holgorsen was quick to remind everyone that the redshirts can be pulled at any time, depending on how the season progresses depth wise.