2012 record: 7-6, 4-5, lost Pinstripe Bowl.
Returning starters: Offense: 3; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 0.
Top returning players: S Karl Joseph, LB Isaiah Bruce, OL Quinton Spain, RB Andrew Buie, RB Dustin Garrison, DL Will Clarke, S Darwin Cook.
Need replacing: WR Tavon Austin, QB Geno Smith, WR Stedman Bailey, C Joe Madsen, LB Terence Garvin, LB Josh Francis, OG Jeff Braun.
A year ago, the unknown for West Virginia involved playing its first season in the Big 12. Going into their second season in the Conference, the Mountaineers face the uncertainty of replacing a huge chunk of its offensive productivity along with three starters on the offensive line.
In his two seasons paired with coach Dana Holgorsen, quarterback Geno Smith made the West Virginia offense rock and roll. Smith has moved on to the NFL and the battle for the starting quarterback is wide open. During spring practice, neither junior Paul Millard nor redshirt freshman Ford Childress make any significant headway.
The departure of wide receivers Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and J.D. Woods leaves a huge void in the receiving corps. That trio combined for 289 receptions, 3,548 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns catches.
Sophomore Jordan Thompson might be a top receiving candidate. He had a strong spring game for the second consecutive year but in 2012 wasn't able to carry that performance into the regular season.
Running back should be a strength and if the offensive lines can open some holes, the offense could rely on the ground game to supply yardage. Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison and junior-college transfer Dreamius Smith are the top candidates for playing time in the back field.
The defense was last in the Big 12 in points allowed, giving up 40 or more points in six of nine games. West Virginia finished 118th nationally in pass defense. The unit returns six starters, including sophomore safety Karl Joseph, who led the team in tackles. Linebacker Isaiah Bruce is a returning starter and appears poised to have a breakout season.
Clint Trickett, a junior quarterback, transferred from Florida State and will be eligible to play this season. He is expected to compete for the starting job. During his two seasons with the Seminoles, he played in 17 games with two starts.
In an effort to improve the defense, West Virginia made some changes to its coaching staff. Keith Patterson takes over full-time duties as defensive coordinator, a job he shared with Joe DeForest last season. Brian Mitchell replaced Daron Roberts as the cornerbacks coach.
West Virginia also had to hire a new offensive line coach when Bill Bedenbaugh left for a similar position at Oklahoma. Ron Crook, formerly at Stanford, replaces Bedenbaugh and must find three new starters. Replacing center Joe Madsen will be a major challenge. Senior Pat Eger was the starter when spring practice wrapped up.
Coach Dana Holgorsen on ...
Teaching the school fight song "Hail West Virginia" to team:
"We expect to win a hell of a lot of games, so they need to be able to sing that."
The arrival of quarterback Clint Trickett from Florida State:
"I understand what his background is and obviously he's been thrown into the fire in some pretty big games, where the guys that we have haven't done that. Does that mean he's going to have a leg up on the competition in August? That doesn't mean that, it just means he's got an opportunity to compete."
The approach and mind set of his team this season:
"It's night and day from what it was last year … But from a coaching perspective it's a little bit easier to get their attention. Last year we did our best to put our guys on high alert and to be guarded as far as what you're listening to in the media. This year's just completely different. There are no expectations whatsoever.''
|Aug. 31||William and Mary|
|Sept. 7||at Oklahoma*|
|Sept. 14||Georgia State|
|Sept. 21||at Maryland|
|Sept. 28||Oklahoma State*|
|Oct. 5||at Baylor*|
|Oct. 19||Texas Tech*|
|Oct. 26||at Kansas State*|
|Nov. 2||at TCU*|
|Nov. 16||at Kansas*|
|Nov. 29||Iowa State*|