All things considered, Andrew Buie
probably could have used a year off from football in 2011 getting bigger in the weight room and getting more familiar with college football.
But circumstances required otherwise.
West Virginia lacked running back depth in 2012 and first year coach Dana Holgorsen needed young guys like Andrew Buie
and Dustin Garrison
to step in and play like men right away.
In Buie, Holgorsen had a running back coming in with a great pedigree – Orlando Sentinel Florida Top 100, Mobile Press Register all-southern team, Jacksonville Times-Union Super 24, SuperPrep Florida Top 100 … so on and so forth. But sometimes it takes a while for players to get comfortable. In the old days when rosters were much bigger, most of the time guys like Buie spent the year figuring things out on the scout team.
Today, more often than not they get thrown into the fire and Buie admits last year was a huge learning experience for him. In fact, things were coming at him so rapidly that it was almost like a blur.
“It was just fast last year,” he said recently. “College was just a big adjustment and this year with a whole season under my belt, it’s easier to manage the things that are going on around you.”
The great ones always describe the game going in slow motion around them. They can almost visualize things before they happen. But when others around you are seemingly moving much faster than you are then that’s when the game can become overwhelming. And in many instances, it’s just a matter of understanding what you are supposed to do and how it relates to everyone around you, says Buie.
“When you know what is going on around you it allows you to play a whole lot faster,” he said. “Being that it’s my second year in the offense I know what’s going on in front of me so that allows me to play faster and be more comfortable in what’s going on out there.”
In addition to sometimes playing in a haze, Buie also had problems holding onto the football, probably because he became so worn down when his weight dropped to 165 pounds at one point during the season.
“For the majority of the year he wasn’t healthy,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “He was young and was worn down pretty quick because he plays so hard.”
To compound things, because of his inexperience Buie didn’t want guys to think he was soft so he often kept to himself when his body wasn’t quite right or something was hurting him. Because he didn’t speak up those minor nicks festered into bigger ailments and as a result, the athletic training staff wasn’t able to treat them earlier because they didn’t know what was wrong with him.
“The big thing is just opening up my mouth so they can take care of it early versus it being later down the road when it’s severe and it’s harder to bounce back from,” he said. “This year with being a little bit older, I understand what you have to do to take care of your body to stay healthy so you can go out there and perform for your team on the weekends.”
At the same time, it wasn’t like 2011 was a completely lost year for the Jacksonville, Fla., resident. He did contribute in West Virginia’s important road victory at Maryland, running for 51 yards and scoring a touchdown, and his Orange Bowl performance was a big pick-me-up for a team playing without starter Dustin Garrison
, who severely injured his knee in practice leading up to the game.
Buie stepped in and accounted for 75 all-purpose yards, including a heads-up, 16-yard reception when he rolled over Clemson’s Rashard Hall and alertly kept running down to the 10 yard line after realizing that his knee and elbow didn’t touch the ground. That play helped West Virginia score its first touchdown – one of many the Mountaineers produced that evening. Buie admits that performance boosted his spirits.
“It was a big confidence builder,” he says. “Going into this spring I just wanted to come in and just rep and get better at playing inside the offense and helping the team out.”
Mission accomplished so far, says Holgorsen.
“He’s been working hard and has his size back. He’s about 180 now,” Holgorsen said. “He’s playing hard and handling the volume well. He could probably take more snaps.”
Buie has no problem with that.