2011-2012 Football Previews – Big East Conference – West Virginia Mountaineers
This season has some potential for awkwardness in Morgantown, after sought-after former Oklahoma State offensive co-ordinator Dana Holgorsen comes over and becomes the coach-in-waiting; Stewart will be nudged out after this season.
Big East 2011-12 Football Previews: West Virginia Mountaineers
Coach: Bill Stewart
2010 Record: 9-4
West Virginia Gambling Odds from Sportsbook.com to win BCS: +2000
WV Team Page – Players Stats – Roster – 2011 Schedule –>
If the Mountaineers can keep their eye on the prize, however, they have the talent to win the Big East crown.
West Virginia had a respectable nine-win season in 2010, but despite a pretty tough schedule, it has a chance to improve upon that this season. At least a conference title and a good bowl appearance (the Fiesta Bowl, possibly?) would send Stewart out riding high.
The bedrock of the offense will be QB Geno Smith. The junior has a myriad of skills including arm strength, accuracy and mobility; he finished with over 200 yards rushing despite playing all of 2010 with a broken foot.
His 2,763 yards and 24-7 TD/INT ratio was also quite impressive.
Smith will be passing the ball to senior Brad Starks and undersized dynamic players like Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. The loss of electric RB Noel Devine hurts, but freshman Andrew Buie should be pretty fast in his own right.
The offensive line is also in great shape with guard Josh Jenkins, C Joe Madsen and cerebral senior tackle Don Barclay.
Defensively, the efforts will be headed by senior D-lineman Julian Miller and CB Keith Tandy, though the “D” must recover from fairly heavy attrition.
Miller and Tandy and senior DE Bruce Irvin are talented, but there are many new faces to plug into the system. The linebacker corps has three new starters and the secondary has a pair.
The Mountaineers typically do a nice job of bringing in some junior college talent (14-sack man Irvin and touted junior LB Josh Francis are both good examples) but it is still a lot to ask to have so many new defensive starters without some growing pains.
2011-12 West Virginia Football Prediction: 10-3
West Virginia has tons of skill and if the defense can congeal like the talent suggests it can, the Mountaineers will be a truly tough customer in the Big East. Smith will lead an effective offense; he’ll be better with a healed foot, a year as a starter under his belt and some speedy young players in the backfield.
The receivers are plenty good enough, especially Tavon Austin. The offensive line will get the job done, which directs the gaze to defensive co-ordinator Jeff Casteel and especially his defensive back seven.
JUCO LB Francis is a great addition; if he and a bunch of other new faces can bring their A-games, go ahead and book WVU for a Big East championship and a Fiesta Bowl appearance.
Holgorsen has orchestrated a fantastic Oklahoma State offense and he will likely shake things up considerably when he takes the reins in Morgantown, but until then Stewart has one last kick at the bucket.
2011 West Virginia Mountaineers Schedule
9/4/11 3:30 PM ET MARSH
9/10/11 12:00 PM ET NORST
9/17/11 12:00 PM ET @MD
9/24/11 12:00 PM ET LSU
10/1/11 12:00 PM ET BGREN
10/8/11 12:00 PM ET CONN
10/21/11 8:00 PM ET @SYR
10/29/11 12:00 PM ET @RUTG
11/5/11 12:00 PM ET LOU
11/12/11 12:00 PM ET @CIN
11/25/11 12:00 PM ET PITT
12/1/11 8:00 PM ET @SOFLA