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2013 Record: 4-8 Big 12 Record: 2-7 2014 Returning Starters: 14: 6 Offense, 6 Defense, Kicker, Punter
Coach: Dana Holgorsen – At WVU and overall: 21-17, 3 years
Offensive Coordinators: Shannon Dawson Defensive Coordinators: Tony Gibson
2014 West Virginia Players to Watch: RB Wendell Smallwood, RB Dreamlus Smith, WR Mario Alford, OL Quinton Spain, OL Mark Glowinski, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, CB Daryl Worley, S Karl Joseph
2014 West Virginia Strengths:
WVU returns the interior of its offensive line, and its skill position players have experience in Holgorsen’s offense. WVU likes its secondary, led by Joseph and Worley, who could be a shutdown corner.
2014 West Virginia Weaknesses:
Who is the quarterback? The Mountaineers know they can’t play musical chairs with the signalcallers again, but no one has emerged yet. In any offense, and particularly one like Dana Holgorsen’s, WVU must have consistent and reliable performances under center to succeed.
2014 West Virginia Offense:
The Mountaineers featured three starting quarterbacks (Pat White, Jarrett Brown and Geno Smith) from 2006 to 2012. WVU used three different starting quarterbacks (Paul Millard, Ford Childress and Clint Trickett) last fall. The quarterback position remains the hottest topic as the Mountaineers enter fall camp with fi.ve contenders – Millard, Trickett, walk-on Logan Moore, junior college transfer Skyler Howard and incoming freshman William Crest. Coaches plan to make it a three-man race within the first week of camp. Expect Trickett, described by coaches as WVU’s best healthy quarterback last season, and Crest, a highly recruited prospect from Dunbar (Md.) High School, to be two of the finalists. Trickett has big-playability, but he got beatup (shoulder and two concussions) last season. Coaches have raved about Crest’s physical abilities and mental maturity. WVU lost running back Charles Sims, but it returns plenty of options in the backfield, including four of its top five receivers and talented guards Quinton Spain and Mark Glowinski. Mario Alford (450 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the final four games) has big-play potential at outside receiver.
2014 West Virginia Defense:
It is now Tony Gibson’s show. The longtime Rich Rodriguez aide left Arizona to return to WVU in 2013, and he was promoted to defensive coordinator this winter after one season coaching safeties. Gibson is the team’s fourth coordinator in as many seasons. He inherits a more veteran and deeper unit than either of his two predecessors. Gibson also has the luxury of bouncing ideas off longtime Penn State aide and friend Tom Bradley, who joined WVU’s staff as defensive line/senior associate head coach. One of the Mountaineers’ greatest weaknesses the last two seasons could now be a strength: the secondary. Daryl Worley, a dedicated and physical player, has the potential to be a standout cornerback, while Karl Joseph and safety/linebacker K.J. Dillon are big-hitters. Icky Banks, who has started 16 games at cornerback, had a nice spring. Leading tackler Nick Kwiatkoski returns to lead a group of veteran linebackers that also includes Isaiah Bruce, Brandon Golson and Jared Barber. The biggest unknown is up front. WVU didn’t generate much pressure last season (16 sacks), and that’s been a major point of emphasis. WVU lost Will Clarke (team-leading six sacks) to graduation.
2014 West Virginia Special Teams:
WVU believes strongly in its core group of specialists, which includes kicker Josh Lambert, punter Nick O’Toole, long-snapper John DePalma and redshirt senior Michael Molinari, a quality backup who might handle kickoff duties.
2014 West Virginia Football Predictions:
It’s a big year for Dana Holgorsen, who knows he needs to show his program is headed in the right direction. Crowds for WVU home games have dropped drastically over the last season-and-a-half, and not since 1991-92 have the Mountaineers gone consecutive seasons without making a bowl game. Returning to the postseason would be a step in the right direction.
2014 West Virginia Football Betting Odds:
West Virginia Current odds to win a National Championship: OFF
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