West Virginia Mountaineers 2013 College Football Preview
2012 Record 7-6 (4-5)
Morgantown, WV (Mountaineer Field)
Odds to win the Big 12: 35 -1 See the Latest Odds
West Virginia Mountaineers
Head Coach: Dana Holgorson (17-9)
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
2012 Record: 7-6 (4-5)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, 38-14 L to Syracuse
8/31 William & Mary
9/7 at Oklahoma
9/14 Georgia State
9/21 at Maryland
9/28 Oklahoma State
10/5 at Baylor
10/19 Texas Tech
10/26 at Kansas State
11/2 at TCU
11/16 at Kansas
11/30 Iowa State
2012 Review: The Mountaineers move to the Big 12 last season was ultimately a train wreck, highlighted by an epic meltdown that saw them drop five in a row and six of their last eight. It was downright painful to watch at times. The season did, however, start out pretty darn good for West Virginia. Geno Smith was a serious Heisman contender who could do no wrong, and the speed that Mountaineer football has come to be predicated on, they had in spades. Smith did his part, throwing for 1,996 yards and 24 TDs, while catapulting WVU to a 5-0 start and a #4 ranking. But good offense can only trump bad defense for so long and the inevitable skid began against Texas Tech and continued through the Kansas State game, with the Mountaineers surrendering a combined 104 points in back-to-back losses. It was as if the defense suddenly forgot to take the field. The slide wasn’t all bad, though, with two one point shootout losses to TCU (39-38) and Oklahoma (50-49) that could have easily gone the other way.
Player Ready To Shine: Jr. RB Andrew Buie (5-9, 190). WVU’s leading rusher in 2012 with 851 yards and 7 TD’s on 179 carries should be this team’s breakout star in the absence of Geno Smith and Tavon Austin, who were both high draft picks in last April’s NFL Draft.
Offense: A massive chunk of this team’s offense is gone with the departures of Smith and Austin so the spread offense, a staple of the West Virginia program since the Rich Rodriguez era, could take some time to develop. The Backfield is definitely the Mountaineer’s strong suit, with Buie poised to get the lion’s share of touches and Jr. Dustin Garrison (5-8, 182), who rushed for 207 yards and 2 TDs on 46 carries last season, also expected to make a bigger contribution, along with Houston transfer Charles Sims. The QB position is an unknown at this point, with Jr. Paul Millard (6-2, 219), who backed up Smith last season, Redshirt Fr. Ford Childress (6-5, 234), a prototype gunslinger with next-level skills, and Florida State transfer Jr. Clint Trickett (6-2, 180) all battling for the top spot. The receiving corps is also a question mark heading into the season. Soph. Jordan Thompson, the only returning receiver with starting experience in 2012, caught 13 passes for 85 yards last season. The Mountaineers also return Sr. wideout Ivan McCartney (6-2, 182) who’ll be battling JUCO transfer Kevin White and true Fr. Devonte Mathis for a roster spot. Two starters return to the O-Line,Sr. Tackle Curtis Feight (6-7, 314) and Jr. Tackle Quinton Spain (6-5, 335). Sr. Pat Eger (6-6, 302) and Soph. Marquis Lucas (6-4, 312) also lead the depth chart heading in 2013.
Defense: It’s difficult to see any optimism with this bunch after last year’s debacle. The Mountaineers were able to cancel out mediocre defense in the Big East with offensive explosions capable of producing ridiculous numbers, while most other offenses in the conference just weren’t up to snuff. Well, welcome to the Big 12, where anyone can score a gazillion points and throw for a gazillion yards. The WVU secondary will have some depth, with Sr. CB Brodrick Jenkins (5-10, 183), Sr. S Darwin Cook (5-10, 183) and Soph. Safety Karl Joseph all returning. The OLB corps depth chart is led by Sr. Dozie Ezemma (6-2, 235), Soph. Garret Hope (6-3, 245) and JUCO transfer d'Vante Henry (6-5, 205). At ILB, WVU returns Sr. Doug Rigg (6-1, 237), Jr. Jared Barber (6-0, 233), Soph. Isaiah Bruce (6-1, 231) and Soph. Nick Kwiatowski (6-2, 232). The D-Line loses just one starter, T Jorge Wright, so this unit will return some depth. Sr. Will Clarke (6-7, 273), Sr. Shaq Rowell (6-4, 305), Soph. Kyle Rose (6-4, 283) and redshirt freshman Noble Nwachukwu (6-2, 271) head the D-line depth chart heading into the season.
Special Teams: The Mountaineers will replace Tyler Bitancurt, their kicker and punter for four years. They will also be replacing one of the most dangerous return men in college football history in Tavon Austin, so the special teams outlook is up in the air at this point.
Final Thoughts: Geno Smith and Tavon Austin were two of the best players to ever wear a WVU uniform, but that did little to avert the disaster that was their inaugural Big 12 season. With those two stars gone, the conference could be an even bigger and scarier place for West Virginia. Fact is, now more than ever, the Mountaineers need standouts from just about every unit to step up and step up big. Otherwise, a move that was designed to take this program to the next level will do little more than knock them two steps back and quite possibly hand WVU its first losing season since 2001.
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