Ben Queen/WVMetroNews

Wendell Smallwood (4) and Andrew Buie are two components in West Virginia’s deep and diverse running backs unit.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For all the questions proffered about the pecking order of West Virginia’s running backs, JaJuan Seider suggests the media could find its own answers by looking at this weekend’s season-opening opponent.

“Alabama goes through the same thing with their (running backs) rotation, and nobody questions when this guy’s going to play or when that guy’s going to play,” said Seider. “It always works itself out.”

West Virginia’s situation worked itself out last year with Charles Sims earning the majority of the carries and catches, but the unit looks deeper and more intricately adjustable this season.

Senior Dreamius Smith is a 220-pound boom-and-burst mixture from whom coaches would like to see more boom. Sophomore transfer Rushel Shell has shown more willingness to run behind his pads and over defenders. Sophomore Wendell Smallwood has a leaner, more classic tailback’s build and an ability to snatch passes downfield.

Beyond that group are slithery scatbacks Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison—juniors who seem relegated to plug-in scenarios despite each having a 200-yard rushing performance to his credit.

MetroNews file photo

Amid hype over Alabama’s backfield, JaJuan Seider says West Virginia’s backs “think they’re damn good themselves.”

How does Seider plan to maximize such a deep and diverse group?

“I’ve got a good idea how the rotation is going to be,” he said Tuesday night, “and I feel like I’ve got a bunch of quality guys who can start.”

Maybe even talented enough to start for a program like the Crimson Tide, whose unit of T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake is the envy of the nation. As Saturday’s showdown at the Georgia Dome approaches, Seider senses his running backs ramping up the competition and feeling slighted.

“These guys can go play for Alabama. They can play in the SEC,” Seider said. “They know what’s being said about the Alabama backs, and these guys feel pretty good about themselves. They think they’re damn good themselves.

“All I tell my guys is that at the end of the day, they’re going to be talking about a running back group—just make sure they’re talking about our group.”

To that end, however, the coach doesn’t want confidence distilling into desperation—particularly with the likelihood of ballcarriers subbing from series to series or even snap to snap. Seider’s advice before his guys face what has recently been one of the nation’s nastiest rushing defenses:

“Be OK with 4-yard gains, and continue to get 4-yard gains. We hand the ball off to you three times in a row, that’s 12 yards. When opportunity comes for that big play. make it, but don’t press.”

Even as West Virginia wants its offense to channel the explosive frequency of 2012, there’s the immediate reality check of Alabama’s defense, stocked with heavily courted recruits being coached up within the Nick Saban/Kirby Smart system.

In countering, West Virginia’s running backs must be stellar Saturday, from playing fumble-free to making blitz pickups in pass-protection. Seider said his group should be fresh, focused and able to execute in all situations.

“You ain’t starting over with a rookie and worried about if he’s going to make a mistake and if he know what he’s doing,” Seider said. “Every kid in that room has reps under their belt. That’s why the comfort level allows me to play whomever I feel.”

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  • Tomgone12

    This game is nothing but pure opportunity. The result, win or lose, is ALL positive. We have NOTHING to lose save a little damaged pride disappointment if WVU desn't show up. I dont think thats going to happen. This is where we want to be PERIOD - WVU BIG 12 - playing one of the most storied program in history and most dominant conference in last 7-8 years. We win ....thats awsome, If we play well and get within 7 -10 points, i'll be disappointed but I will have hope for comng season. There's likely gonna be a host of pretty good teams in SEC west that will have the same experience. Im not gonna trash DH OL and rest of program. I'm looking forward to seeing our O vs their D and vice versa. Wanna see just how good we are. Dont you?

    • Classictide

      Looking forward to a good game .....wish you luck after this game with rest of your season. RTR

  • any major dude

    Gotta pound the ball, throw short and medium passes and a few downfield too. Can't let them crowd the line. Keep em guessing. Stretch their defense.

  • SECorBust

    I like the enthusiasm. If WVU gets close to 4 yards a carry I will be impressed. Bama sports the nastiest and deepest D-line that I remember seeing under NS.

    Does he plan to feed the RBs alot? I don't see WVU getting very far like that against this team.

    • Aaron

      This isn't the offense WVU took to Oklahoma in 1982 where only a few plays worked. This is a spread them out, fast paced offense playing against a retooled defense that does not have a history of stopping this style. Say what you like but Texas A&M has had tremendous success in the SEC with this very same style of play.

      When you consider that WVU's offense, no where near what it is this year, averaged 4256 yards per game and scored at 25 points per game and the Tide defense gave up an average of 40 points and 483 yards to spread offenses last year, some how I doubt Saban, Smart and the rest on that side of the ball have the same attitude those no affiliated with Alabama football do.

      Alabama may very well win but somehow I don't see them shutting down WV like many think they will.

    • OC

      My guess is we'll go with what they give us. If they load the box, we pass. If they lay back, we run.

      If we can't run when they lay back or throw when they load the box, it will be a long evening.

  • drb107

    If the offensive line can give Trinkett some time to throw some short to medium passes and with our running backs in good shape, and the defense stepping up, this might be a very interesting game. Could we be hearing Country Roads being sung after the game?

  • cutty77

    As a unit WVU might have to best set of Running Backs in the Country. I think its the Best that WVU has ever had. This is what Dana has to do on Sat and the rest of the year. RUN THE DAMM BALL. They went back to zone blocking too,which is alot better to.

    • Major Harris

      Alabama has the best RB corps in the nation hands down. The notion by the article's author that any of the WVU RBs could start for Alabama is ludicrous. Could they play in the SEC? Absolutely, but none of those guys would crack the Tide's top 3. They'd all wind up transferring.

    • Aaron

      Should Alabama manage an upset, the Georgia Dome crew should honor Coach Saban with a rendition of Country Roads to remind him of home.

  • Bill

    For all the people that believe that WVU will beat Alabama, you must be smoking the good stuff.

    • Upset City

      Dear Bill:

      Did you believe we'd beat UGA in '06?
      How about OU in '08?
      Any chance you caught heavily favored Clemson getting curb stomped by our boys early in 2012?

      This ain't Marsha, Bill. We show up for big games

      Let's Go!.

      • rock solid

        @upset city: Remember when we got real excited every year when we played Penn State? We would play like hell for a half, then get steamrolled in the second half. Why? Because they had too many good subs and we just ran out of gas. Hope I'm wrong, but this game with Alabama looks just like the old Penn State/WVU matchups. Remember JoPa saying WVU would win when they had better players? Well we do but not the depth. Add in Clint and it doesn't look like we have enough good subs to surprise anyone like the number 2 team in the country yet. Hope I'm wrong but Wva. fans always seem to jump off the deep end when they don't know how to swim well enough to swim out of a rip tide.

        • Aaron

          "Add in Clint and it doesn't look like we have enough good subs to surprise anyone like the number 2 team in the country yet"

          Rankings schmankings. Last years National Championship game contenders were preseason ranked 11th (Florida State) and not at all (Auburn).

        • The bookman

          They are number 2 on paper. No team has taken a snap. They will be good, but who knows how good. They may be dominant. They may not handle Holgs offense well. They may have us pegged. They may have confusion. Alabama may have the Number 1 Team in the country. They may also only have a great recruiting class, but no team. We shall see this Saturday.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    On record for a 38 to 35 WVU victory but history tells us to expect these same dumb mistakes from ourselves:
    1. Run kickoffs out of the end zone. Heard coaches say this is quite okay to do.
    2. Go for it on 4th down early. Looks like desperation to me.
    3. At least 1 dropped pass that would have been a touchdown.
    4. Decent chance of a blocked kick or a fumbled punt.
    And this will be the killer for us if it happens again: 3 and out, 3 and out ...

    • Shawn H

      Don't forget:

      #5. A fumble by one of our running backs on our side of the field, leading to points for UA.

      I love our backs, but they have to hold onto the ball for us to have a chance at an upset.

      • fred

        Also don't forget:

        Clint Trickett throws a pick 6.

      • Jim


  • any major dude

    Love Coach Seider's philosophy. We got spoiled in guys like N. Devine where a mere 4 -yard gain seemed disappointing. 4+4+4=12 all day. Still gotta block and hold onto the ball. Maybe it's nitpicking, but I sure would like to see the runners with Clint under center for the quick hitter into the line! Smashmouth! Slobberknock em! Go Mountaineers!

  • UA

    sure they can. on the scout team, maybe. hope you all enjoy the whipping Saturday!

    • makinwaves

      WAR EAGLE!

    • hailey

      UA be careful, we could be your Utah or U of L... I know its very doubtful, but I am saying "so there is a chance"

      War Damn Mountain Eagle !!

    • Tea Bag E

      rwhoool tid

    • Tree Poison Boy

      rull tyde!


    I liked the way Dandy Don handled such things...lets let the players settle it on the field...its really up to the men taking the field this Saturday...not the the boys that coach them or the boys in the stands.....

    TODAY WE FIGHT!!!!!!!


  • Ron - from Morgantown

    J can recruit with the best of them in southern Fla , I just hope he can Re-recruit ( I know , bad English ) with the best of them , because a lot of schools are going after our verbals right now . Skill and speed are still attracted to DH - that's a good thing . He was hired because of that reputation . I've never seen so many WVU fans and media predict a moral victory on Saturday ( me also ) . This might be that one game where we accept a loss as a victory as long as we play "respectable " . Any legit bloggers / media willing to step up and predict an outright WVU victory . I haven't seen any yet .

    • Nostradamus

      We will descend on atlanta
      As Sherman once did
      And we will beat alabama
      Who is this Ron kid?

      • StarCityEer

        The forecast for Atlanta Saturday is uncertain skies with a perfect storm inside the Dome! Trouble is brewing in the heartland!

  • TruthTeller

    Well according to the ever lying media, Alabama has all ready won this game its just a matter of what the score will be.


    Gotta love Coach Seider's confidence. WVU's backfield is as talented as there is in the Big 12 and possibly the country. O-Line simply has to provide a hole or crease for these RB's to get to the second level and make things happen.

    Bama's D will be no worse than the 2nd best unit WVU will face (OU may be 1st) so this is a great test for these guys.

    Game time is 81 hours and counting. Can't wait.

  • Aaron

    WVU's best chance of remaining competitive in this game is to sustain long drives, zero turnovers and winning the field position battle. If the offense is flawless in the defense can manage to force a turnover or two this could be a good ball game.