The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

November 15, 2010

Alston runs with chance; Jenkins defends Stewart

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia running back Shawne Alston had to feel like the forgotten man.

Seems like no matter how much coaches praised the 5-foot-11, 222-pound wrecking ball — and they all did, from running backs coach Chris Beatty, to offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen and right on up to Bill Stewart — it never seemed to make a difference.

Instead of getting down, he got his licks in on the practice field.

And no, he didn’t figure he’d figure much into Saturday’s Big East game with Cincinnati.

His role had been minimal at best, six carries for 32 yards coming into the game.

Injuries played a part in that.

But Saturday afforded the Hampton, Va., native an opportunity.

And he ran with it.

Literally.

Alston had a career-best 75 yards on 17 carries in WVU’s 37-10 win. He was a big part of a running game that helped eat away the second-half clock.

He had 10 carries on one drive alone.

“It just felt good to be out there,” Alston said. “I always try to keep my head up. I go out and prepare every week like I’m going to play and to be prepared in case I get the opportunity. Today, I got the opportunity and I knew I was ready.”

It wasn’t fancy. It was the same play. Over and over. At the same time, Cincinnati couldn’t stop this version of Mountaineer power football.

“That’s my game,” Alston said, bleeding from a small cut on his head yet wearing it as a badge of honor. “It’s always been my game. In high school, we didn’t have any plays we ran other than power football.

“My coach said they were going to put power on his tombstone. My uncle, he’s like 39, and they were running power football when he played there. I love that style. It’s my style.”

And it certainly looked it.

Offensive lineman Josh Jenkins could appreciate Alston’s effort.

“The guy’s a good football player,” Jenkins said. “He is a power runner. I knew if he got his chance, he’d make the most of it. We got started downhill and kept going. That was fun, man.”

All told it was a running attack that had 59 attempts for 245 yards, or 4.2 yards per attempt.

Black and blue football.

“That’s the way I like it,” Alston said.

It showed on Saturday.

n n n

Despite the win, a multitude of fans are still upset that WVU lost two Big East games prior to Saturday’s win.

One person hired a plane with a Fire Stew sign, harkening back to the Don Nehlen days.

Stewart touched on the criticism of recent weeks indirectly at the end of his post-game press conference.

“Don’t buy into all the sensationalism going on in this great state, or nation,” Stewart said. “One pulse, one heartbeat, one team. See y’all later.”

Obviously, it wouldn’t pay for Stew to get into a rift with fans.

But the players — at least one — don’t have to be as tight-lipped.

“Here’s the deal,” Jenkins said. “If he’s 9-0 right now, then to most people he’s a god, right? Since we lost a couple of games, all of a sudden he can’t coach?

“What people don’t understand, because they don’t understand football, is that he is a good coach. And we have a good team. Yes, we lost those two games and that is on us because we were prepared and we didn’t do the job.”

He’s seen the message boards and the Parkersburg native is unimpressed.

“Really, I question if anybody sitting at a computer, probably eating doughnuts, was man enough to play the game, to come out and coach the game. They never put their name out there, so would they have the guts to put their name on the back of a jersey and play the game? You really should make sure that you know what you are talking about, you should understand the game, before you start putting stuff on message boards.”

— E-mail: demorrison@

register-herald.com

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