#43 West Virginia Football 2013 Preview

West Virginia Mountaineers

Overall Rank: #43
#7 Big 12

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West Virginia has been to a bowl game every year since 2002. That streak will be tested in 2013 as the Mountaineers have a lot of new faces on the field and on the sidelines. Without Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Baily, the WVU offense is going to look completely different. Coach Dana Holgorsen will still get the ball in the air, but it remains to be seen if anybody can actually throw and catch effectively.

2012 Record: (7-6, 4-5)
2012 Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Syracuse (L 14-38)
Coach: Dana Holgorsen (17-9 at West Virginia, 17-9 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Shannon Dawson
Defensive Coordinator: Keith Patterson

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Andrew Buie, RB, 851 yards
Passing: Paul Millard, QB, 87 yards
Receiving: Andrew Buie, RB, 318 yards
Tackles: Karl Joseph, S, 104
Sacks: Shaq Petteway, LB, 1.5; Will Clarke, DT, 1.5
Interceptions: Karl Joseph, S, 2; Isaiah Bruce, LB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Dustin Garrison, HB Cody Clay, OL Quinton Spain, DT Shaq Powell, CB Brodrick Jenkins, S Darwin Cook, LB Doug Rigg

Key Losses: QB Geno Smith, RB Tavon Austin, RB Shawne Alston, WR Stedman Bailey, WR J.D. Woods, LB Terence Gavin, LB Josh Francis, CB Pat Miller, K/P Tyler Bitancurt

The defense changed personnel after the regular season and it showed a little bit during the bowl loss to Syracuse. It has not been effective yet as the Mountaineers gave up 38 points to the Orange in the Pinstripe Bowl, yet coordinator Keith Patterson has now had a full offseason to implement his scheme. The Mountaineers defense was quite pathetic in 2012, but there is nowhere to go but up. Safeties Darwin Cook and Karl Joseph are two of the best in the conference. Joseph led the squad with 104 tackles and will probably be back on top of the list this year. When given freedom to roam, both safeties can make big plays. Brodrick Jenkins is an experienced corner and Terrell Chestnut and Travis Bell have potential when healthy. Unfortunately potential is not going to be enough for a team that allowed over 312 yards per game through the air. Isaiah Bruce is the returning star of the linebackers. He had an absolutely amazing redshirt freshman campaign, totaling 94 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. The line will work around senior end Will Clarke and defensive tackle Shaq Rowell, but the unit needs to be more consistent.

The West Virginia passing game will not be a weakness, but there are major questions and huge shoes to fill. Junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress did not separate from each other during the spring. Then former Florida State slinger Clint Trickett entered the fray. Coach Holgorsen would like to pick a winner and go with them, but that will depend on how the season unfolds. Whoever wins the job will put up good numbers, but it will have to be a step back from last year. The receiving corps will consist of young players like K.J. Myers, Jordan Thompson and Shelton Gibson as well as junior college transfers Ronald Carswell, Kevin White and Mario Alford. The talent is there and a handful of players will step up, but it is asking a lot for there to be a Bailey, Austin and J.D. Woods on the roster. The biggest problem could end up being on the offensive line where three starters need to be replaced. Left tackle Quinton Spain is an All-Big 12 caliber player, yet the inexperience around him will be a concern for a while.

The Bottom Line:
West Virginia will not abandon the air attack ever, but there are plenty of talented running backs. Andrew Buie rushed for 851 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago and he will get help from speedy junior Dustin Garrison and junior college transfer Dreamius Smith. Big halfback Cody Clay will help pave the way for the backs and should be utilized in short yardage situations. If West Virginia is going to reach another bowl game, it will not be on the ground, it will be because the passing game turns into something relatively consistent and the defense takes a decent step forward.

Projected Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 171.85 (52nd in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 330.15 (10, 5)
Total Offense: 502.00 (10, 3)
Scoring Offense: 39.46 (9, 3)
Rushing Defense: 159.92 (60, 4)
Pass Defense: 312.54 (118, 9)
Total Defense: 472.46 (108, 8)
Scoring Defense: 38.08 (114, 10)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (33, 2)
Sacks: 1.77 (75, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.69 (49, 8)

Madness 2013 Recruit Rankings:
#194 Shelton Gibson


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