#51 West Virginia Football 2014 Preview

West Virginia Mountaineers

Overall Rank: #51
#8 Big 12

West Virginia Team Page#51 West Virginia Football 2014 PreviewBuy West Virginia Football Tickets

Dana Holgerson is a brilliant offensive guru entering his fourth season with the Mountaineers.  Unfortunately, things have not been going his way lately.  His record has been progressively getting worse, including a 4-8 record in 2013.  A lot of that can be attributed to a porous defense.  In the Big 12, a subpar defense can be deadly.  This season, the Mountaineers will look to get back on the winning path.  Quarterback Clint Trickett returns this season, which should help keep Holgerson’s offense clicking.  Questions will need to be answered on defense.  The coach’s seat is a hot one entering the 2014 season.

2013 Record: 4-8, 2-7
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Dana Holgorsen (21-17 at West Virginia, 21-17 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Shannon Dawson
Defensive Coordinator: Tony Gibson

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dreamius Smith, RB, 494 yards
Passing: Clint Trickett, QB, 1,605 yards
Receiving: Mario Alford, WR, 552 yards
Tackles: Nick Kwiatkoski, LB, 86
Sacks: Brandon Golson, LB, 4.0
Interceptions: Nick Kwiatkoski, LB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Kevin White, WR Daikiel Shorts, LB Jared Barber, S Karl Joseph, DT Kyle Rose, LB Isaiah Bruce

Key Losses: RB Charles Sims, OT Curtis Feigt, S Darwin Cook, DE Will Clarke, DT Shaq Rowell

Holgerson’s offenses have been stellar since his days at Oklahoma State.  Not much has changed in his years in Morgantown.  Under Geno Smith, the Mountaineers were high fliers.  Even after Smith’s departure, the passing game has been great.  Last year, the Mountaineers’ passers threw for over 3,000 yards and averaged over 260 yards per game.  Luckily, their top three receivers return to the lineup as well.  Their passing game should still pack a punch going into 2014.  In fact, the return of 14 players with starting experience should really allow for an improvement all over that side of the ball.  Familiarity among players should go a long way.  Defensively, the one thing this team could hang its hat on was the ability to create turnovers.  They had 28 takeaways last season, including 16 recovered fumbles.  Ideally, that ball-hawking mentality will continue this season.

Pick anything on the defense (outside of takeaways), and it was a weakness.  Even considering their ability to turn opponents over, this defense was bad all over the place.  They were last in the conference in pass defense and second to last in total defense.  They gave up a whopping 455 yards per game, which is among the worst numbers in the country.  They had a tough time getting pressure on the quarterback as well.  They will need to be better in the pass rush in 2014 if they would like to make significant improvements.  At least their most productive defenders are back for another season.  Elsewhere, the Mountaineers must cut down on turnovers themselves on the offensive side.  Quarterbacks threw 16 interceptions last season, and West Virginia ended up in the negative in turnover margin.  They cannot have a 1:1 touchdown-interception ratio and be successful.

The Bottom Line:
The only way for West Virginia to get back to their winning ways is for the defense to step up.  They were bad in all facets of the game.  With Baylor and Oklahoma State in the same conference, stopping elite passers is a necessity.  On offense, they will continue to have the ability to put up good numbers, but they need to be tighter in their execution.  Cutting down on turnovers and converting drives will go a long way.  If Holgerson wants to keep his job, he is going to have to show improvement in their record this season.  He likely will, but he knows as well as anyone that his job could be on the line if his team falls short.

Projected Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 148.7 (82nd in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 262.3 (34, 4)
Total Offense: 411.0 (62, 5)
Scoring Offense: 26.3 (79, 7)
Rushing Defense: 191.7 (90, 8)
Pass Defense: 140.81 (96, 10)
Total Defense: 455.0 (101, 9)
Scoring Defense: 33.3 (99, 9)
Turnover Margin: -0.3 (86, 9)
Sacks: 1.33 (107, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 2.33 (85, 7)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#57 Karl Joseph


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