Testy Rodriguez 'Tired' of Queries about Slaton

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Byline: GARRY SMITS and JASON SCHNEIDER

West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez had nothing new to report on All-American tailback Steve Slaton's injury status Friday.

And Rodriguez made it clear that he'd like to quit repeating himself.

Slaton, who set the Mountaineers' single-season rushing record with 1,733 yards, is trying to recover from a deep thigh bruise in time to play in Monday's Gator Bowl against Georgia Tech.

Slaton wasn't able to participate in contact drills this week and after some early optimism, when the team reported to Jacksonville, Rodriguez said the sophomore is "questionable."

"I'm tired of this," he said before Friday's practice in helmets and shorts. "There's nothing you can do, and I'm not real comfortable discussing injuries in detail anyway. He's [Slaton] still questionable. He's better than he was [Thursday], and we hope he'll be better in the next couple of days. The trainers are doing all they can, and he's doing all he can."

Slaton's teammates are hopeful about his status.

"He wants to play," West Virginia sophomore quarterback Patrick White said. "He's working as hard as he can."

If Slaton can't play, the bulk of the tailback carries would fall to senior Jason Colson and sophomore Ed Collington, who have received most of the repetitions in practice. Colson has only 19 carries for 40 yards this season and Collington two carries for 1 yard.

"If I didn't have any confidence in them, I wouldn't rep them," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez also could rely more on White (1,054 yards, 17 touchdowns) and fullback Owen Schmitt (242 yards, five touchdowns). When asked about those options, Rodriguez said: "It's a fair question, but why would I say what I would do if he [Slaton] didn't play? That wouldn't be real smart."

As a sophomore in 2005, Colson gained 706 yards and scored six touchdowns. But in the last two seasons, as Slaton has emerged as the running-game leader for West Virginia, Colson's carries have dropped to 43 in 2006 and 19 this year. …