Buie becomes breakout performer for WVU
Before last week, West Virginia sophomore Andrew Buie was considered an insurance policy in a compact package, a 5-foot-9, 188-pound running back holding things down until Shawne Alston and Dustin Garrison were healthy.
Even his coach struggled to find the words to adequately describe him.
A week earlier, Dana Holgorsen praised Buie for running hard and not fumbling. That was before Buie carried 31 times for 207 yards — both career highs — and two touchdowns in the Mountaineers' 48-45 win at Texas.
“He averaged 6.7 yards a run — that's phenomenal,'' Holgorsen said. “What's surprising is him carrying 31 times.''
Because he never knows going into a game how much he will play, Buie doesn't take anything for granted.
“I just play within the game plan,'' said Buie, whose previous career high was 82 yards against Baylor on Sept. 29. “I don't know if I'm going to have two or 13 or 35 (carries). When the ball is put in my hands, it's my job to make a play.''
Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville expects more of the same from Buie when the teams meet Saturday in Lubbock.
“He's got good speed and he runs like a 230 pounder,'' Tuberville said. “He breaks a lot of tackles.''
WVU had a season-high 42 runs against Texas, the first game this year Holgorsen called more runs than passes. Quarterback Geno Smith was 25 of 35 for 268 yards and four touchdowns.
WVU ran 21 plays in the fourth quarter. Buie led the offense, rushing 11 times for 101 yards and a 5-yard touchdown with 1:19 remaining.
“He carried us,'' Smith said. “We needed to run because they like to get after the quarterback. They put a nickel package out there the entire game. Kept two linebackers in the box even to our power sets. We had to force the emphasis on running and did a great job.''
A year ago, Buie played behind Garrison and Alston until injuries slowed both players. In his second year, Buie was considered a dependable backup until both players ahead of him on the depth chart returned to full strength.
Buie's unexpected performance against Texas may have elevated his playing status for the rest of the season.
“We all think Buie's a good player,'' offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. “The more we hand him the ball, he gets better and better. That last drive, when they know we're going to run the ball, he still kept breaking through.''
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.