#36 West Virginia Football 2021 Preview

West Virginia Mountaineers
Overall Rank: #36
#6 Big 12
 West Virginia Logo
Year two of the Neal Brown era was better than year one. West Virginia finished 4-4 in Big 12 play and most of those losses were close losses with the exception being a 42-6 drubbing at the hands of Iowa State. The Mountaineers ended on a high note though, beating Army 24-21 in the Liberty Bowl.
2020 Record: 6-4, 4-4
2020 Bowl: Liberty Bowl vs. Army (W 24-21)
Coach: Neal Brown (11-11 at West Virginia, 46-27 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Gerad Parker
Defensive Coordinator: Jordan Lesley
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Leddie Brown, RB, 1,010 yards
Passing: Jarret Doege, QB, 2,587 yards
Receiving: Winston Wright Jr, WR, 553 yards
Tackles: Alonzo Addae, S, 66
Sacks: Akheem Mesidor, DL, 5.0
Interceptions: Alonzo Addae, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Sam James, WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton, LB Josh Chandler-Semedo, S Sean Mahone, LB Jared Bartlett
Key Losses: RB Alec Sinkfield, WR T.J. Simmons, OL Michael Brown, LB Tony Fields II, Tykee Smith, CB Dreshun Miller, DL Darius Stills, DL Jeffery Pooler Jr
The offense struggled much of last year, but this should be a solid unit that can at least put up enough points to let the defense win games again in 2021. Quarterback Jarret Doege threw for 2,587 yards and 14 touchdowns and completed 63.9 percent of his passes with just four interceptions. Doege is not spectacular, but he gets the job done. Having a veteran group of pass catchers will help too. Winston Wright was the most productive last year, catching 47 passes for 553 yards. Bryce Ford-Wheaton added 27 catches for 416 yards and Sam James is looking for a bounce back year after catching 69 passes for 677 yards two years ago. The offense will revolve around the run game though, led by a strong offensive line and 1,000-yard rusher Leddie Brown.
The WVU defense led the Big 12 in pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. Quite a few key pieces are gone from that group, but there is enough talent to keep this among the best units in the conference. Dante Stills will take over the middle of the line from his brother and be flanked by returning Freshman All-American Akheem Mesidor. At linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo and Jared Bartlett have plenty of experience, but it will not be easy replacing Tony Fields II at middle linebacker. The secondary also has big holes to fill with the transfer of Tykee Smith, but there is a lot of experience here. West Virginia may not have the best pass defense in the country again in 2021, but they still could be the best in the Big 12.
The Bottom Line:
The Mountaineers will be better on offense and worse on defense. How much will the defense slip? Has Coach Brown brought in enough talent and depth to reload on the defensive end? Time will tell, but do not be surprised to see West Virginia pull off some upsets along the way.
Projected Bowl:  Liberty Bowl
2020 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 135.1 (92nd in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 277.5 (28, 3)
Total Offense: 412.6 (50, 6)
Scoring Offense: 26.5 (82, 8)
Rushing Defense: 131.8 (28, 4)
Pass Defense: 159.6 (1, 1)
Total Defense: 291.4 (4, 1)
Scoring Defense: 20.5 (21, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.20 (51, 5)
Sacks: 2.20 (64, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.10 (57, 4)