After a fast 5-0 start, West Virginia ended their first season in the Big 12 with a mediocre 7-6 record (4-5 in conference). Head coach Dana Holgerson and the Mountaineers opened their second Big 12 season on March 1o with the commencement of spring practice. WVUIE97 of the West Virginia blog Smoking Musket breaks down the Mountaineers for us in our West Virginia 2013 spring preview.
During several interviews I did preseason, I said any record between 7-5 and 11-1 wouldn’t surprise me, but when pressed I said 10-2 based on the offensive fire power alone. What none of us was prepared for was the historically bad defense that West Virginia fielded in 2012. If it would have been just average, that likely would have been good for 2-3 more wins.
The offense, save for the games against TT and KSU, was about what was expected. I knew West Virginia had question marks on defense, but I wasn’t prepared for what we witnessed in 2012. Despite their struggles, I think West Virginia has the right program in place to eventually compete in the Big 12.
The only production West Virginia has returning on offense is the running backs, and they were inconsistent, at best last season.
On defense West Virginia has 2 sophomores who played extremely well last season and they have high hopes for their growth and development, LB Isaiah Bruce and Safety Karl Joseph. Despite our poor showings on defense overall, these two showed flashes of brilliance in their first season.
The Mountaineers also have a fair amount of depth returning on the defensive line, which included a few youngsters thrust into a hard situation last season and hopefully that experience will pay dividends this season.
For the first time since Pat White was a redshirt freshman, we have uncertainty at the quarterback position. The competition for the starting job is expected to last through the spring and into fall camp. There are four guys all with legitimate shots at the job: Paul Millard (Jr), Ford Childress (rFr), Chavas Rawlins (Fr) and Logan Moore (rJr).
We also have only one returning receiver with any production last season and that is Sophomore Jordan Thompson and all of his 13 receptions for 85 yards.
Millard and Childress are the apparent frontrunners, but the Rawlins kid is the wildcard. He’s a dual threat kind of guy that can toss the ball around very well. Pat White is very high on his chances to compete right away.
Thompson has the frame that reminds you of Tavon Austin, and some of the quickness too. It was just hard for him to get much playing time last year behind Austin, Bailey and J.D. Woods. It will be interesting to see if he can help replace the production of those three and if JC transfer Kevin White can step in right away and help.
We’re in for another tough year, but after a couple of down recruiting cycles, the necessary depth to compete in this league is beginning to return and develop. I would say another 7-5 season would be considered a success with all the talent from last year being replaced.
I like to think we may sneak up and beat one of the top teams that we’re not supposed to beat this season too, but maybe that’s just being too optimistic. It will likely be a tough year, but I believe West Virginia is trending back upward.
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