MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two carries by Dreamius Smith during Saturday’s Blue-Gold game displayed the power-speed combo for which he has been touted.
The strength: A short-yardage run on which Smith was spun around and continued to backpedal, dragging the pile of tacklers for another 5 yards.
The burst: An inside handoff that Smith bounced outside, gliding around the edge and outrunning the safety to the boundary for a 15-yard gain.
Smith, a transfer from Butler (Kan.) Community College, was not allowed to speak with the media this spring — a Dana Holgorsen policy that applied to all early enrollees — but those runs told West Virginia fans plenty about Smith’s ability.
“He’s shown some flashes,” Holgorsen said.
The 215-pound Smith finished with seven carries for 38 yards in the spring game and also made one catch, taking a quick screen 8 yards. His receiving ability, so crucial in Holgerson’s attack, has been on display during some of the media viewing sessions this spring. That comes on the heels of making 16 catches as a sophomore at Butler, where he was a part of a three-man rotation at tailback.
“We’re asking more of him than he’s been asked in the past — from a practice standpoint to a receiving standpoint to a pass-blocking standpoint and from a running standpoint,” Holgorsen said. “He does some things pretty good and then gets worn down and doesn’t look very good. That’s a typical new guy.”
Dustin Garrison isn’t a new guy, though his surgically repaired knee looked new again as the junior gained a team-high 51 on only seven carries. Add to the mix returning starter Andrew Buie — who sat out the Blue-Gold game with a pulled hamstring — and freshman Wendell Smallwood, and Holgorsen said the running back unit seems far deeper than last season.
“I like where we are at at running back,” he said. “I think we’re in good shape. Best shape we’ve been in since I’ve been here.”
That means fewer games in which one back must carry the load, a scenario that clearly hampered Buie during the second half of last season. His hamstring injury not considered serious, Buie credited the rotation with showing its versatility this spring.
“I feel like we’ve got a diverse mixture of guys,” the junior said. “I’ve got hands to catch that rock. Dustin has good hands and Dreamius has good hands. I think any guy can be at any spot at any moment.”