Any concerns West Virginia fans had about the Mountaineers running attack seem so distant after this past Saturday’s game. WVU ran for 331 yards against Marshall, good enough for fifth in the nation. Shawne Alston was a major contributor to the Mountaineers rushing success.
Alston ran all over Marshall for 123 yards on just 16 carries, including two touchdowns. While running for more than 100 yards is not a major headline, amassing more than half of those yards after contact is. Coach Holgorsen praised Alston’s physical running style after the game.
“He had about 65 yards after contact,” said Holgorsen. “Half of the rushing yards were him being a physical runner which is something we’ve been trying to get him to do for quite some time.”
If you were privileged to witness the Mountaineers big season opener, you noticed that Alston was not simply running past casual arm tackles, he was running through people. Alston was actively seeking out contact, ensuring that he was the hammer and not the nail. He demolished (you know you enjoy that movie) the Herd defensive line.
Alston’s battering running style looked to wear down the Marshall defense as tacklers stopped trying to tackle low and settled for shoulder-high arm tackles. Eventually, the Herd just got frustrated with Alston, deliberately grabbing his face mask on his second touchdown of the afternoon.
This is not uncommon for Alston, as he has shown this same level of play, most notably against Rutgers last year. What remains to be seen, is if Alston can consistently run the ball as well as he did against Marshall. Alston played well towards the end of last season and went off on Marshall, indicating that he might be hitting his stride. That is great news for WVU and awful news for opposing defenses.