2012-13 Football Previews (Big 12) – West Virginia
In the move from the Big East to the Big 12 Conference, West Virginia gets a serious bump up in the week-to-week compete level. The shift to the Big 12 is fitting, as the Mountaineers are entering the second season under head coach Dana Holgorsen, who schemed the Oklahoma State offense to new heights over the past several years.
Big 12 2012-13 Football Previews: West Virginia Mountaineers
Coach: Dana Holgorsen
2011 Record: 10-3
West Virginia Gambling Odds from Sportsbook.com to win BCS: 45-1
West Virginia must use all this offensive knowhow along with a talented roster to keep up with the big boys on the block, like Oklahoma, Texas and Ok. State.
The Mountaineers have always found themselves in a region that tends to love college hoops first, but the program has scrapped and reached the Big East elite, which earned it the right to make the move to a more prestigious football conference. Even if the change doesn’t make the most geographic sense, it will make “cents” – which we all know is the penultimate concern in today’s varsity athletics world.
It will be interesting to see how the Mountaineers fare in their first season in the new environment.
A high-flying offense will be led by superb senior QB Geno Smith. As a junior, Smith led the Big East in passing efficiency, and is coming off a season of 4,000+ passing yards and an outstanding 31-7 TD/INT ratio. All the success is definitely being spurred by Holgorsen’s crazy aerial attack, but Smith is a supreme talent under center.
One of the reasons Smith looks so good out there is his great wide receiver corps. Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney form a beautiful triumvirate of snags and majors. Highly-touted freshman Deontay McManus also comes in; the lauded WR prospects will pile up because they know how much action they will get in this offense. The RB position will also be handled capably with a committee of sophomore Dustin Garrison, senior Shawne Alston and soph Andrew Buie. The offensive line is a mix of returning seniors and highly-touted prospects, so they should easily handle the job of maximizing the skill-position talent.
The Big 12 has some outstanding athletic depth on defense, and that might be the most noticeable difference for WVU in 2012. The Mountaineers have merely a decent defense; they are always more prone to beat a team with scoring. However, programs like Oklahoma and Texas have brilliant defensive players to spare and West Virginia must learn to adapt. Cornerback Terence Garvin is a great player, as is DT Jorge Wright and LB Jewone Snow. Yet, there is definitely some stockpiling to do in Morgantown; the hope is that the defense will be competent enough to make the offense’s ample scoring count.
2012-13 West Virginia Football Prediction: 8-5
The Mountaineers will have a very solid gauge of what this conference is about right away; WVU faces Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU and travel to Texas Tech in 2012. The traditional rivalry game with Maryland will still be played, but other than that it is a healthy dose of Big 12 top dogs. An important aside is that WVU travels to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State on Nov. 10; it will be interesting to see offensive guru-turned-head-coach Holgorsen travel back to his old stomping grounds.
West Virginia is a talented, dangerous team that no one looks forward to facing. The Mountaineers can score on anyone, at any time, particularly with QB Smith and the aforementioned trio of WRs. You can be fairly certain, though, that Big 12 opposition will be able to score on WVU. I am fairly certain that Holgorsen and his staff will be able to recruit the types of players that will thrive in the new environment, but there may be some growing pains in the first season. I would be surprised if West Virginia could reach double-digit wins again in 2012.
2012 WV Schedule
9/1/12 12:00 PM ET MARSH
9/15/12 TBD @JMAD
9/22/12 TBD MD
9/29/12 TBD BAY
10/6/12 TBD @TEXAS
10/13/12 TBD @TXTCH
10/20/12 TBD KANST
11/3/12 TBD TCU
11/10/12 TBD @OKLST
11/17/12 TBD OKLA
11/24/12 TBD @IOWST
12/1/12 TBD KANS