football

2013 Spring Recap: West Virginia

WestVirginiadidn'treceivethewarmwelcomeitexpectedinitsinauguralyear
asaBig12school.TheMountaineerswerethoughttobeaBig12titlecontender
enteringthe2012season,butfive-straightlossesmidwaythroughtheseason--
beginningwitha49-14demolitioninLubbock--turnedWVU'sdreamseasonintoa
nightmare.
westvirginiaAT-A-GLANCE
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THEBASICS
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Coach: Dana HolgorsenClick Here to view this Link.
Last season: 7-6 overall, 4-5 in
the Big 12; lost 38-14 to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.
RETURNING STARTERS
(minimum of seven starts in 2012)
Offense (2): RB Andrew Buie,
OT Quinton Spain
Defense
(7): LB Isaiah Bruce,
DL Will Clarke,
S Darwin Cook,
CB Broderick Jenkins,
S Karl Joseph,
LB Doug Rigg,
DL Shaq Rowell
Special teams (1): DS John DePalma
Dana Holgorsen has a well-deserved reputation as an offensive genius,
but 2013 could be a challenge following the departure of Geno Smith, Tavon
Austin, Stedmon Bailey and most of the team's offensive starters. Still, a
change at defensive coordinator and the team's year of experience in the Big 12
have fans hoping WVU can improve on last year's 7-6 mark.
We caught up with WVSports.com's
Keenan Cummings for the latest on the Mountaineers.
THE SPRING LEAD
The biggest question in Morgantown is who will replace quarterback Geno Smith,
and the answer isn't immediately clear.
"That's kind of the battle everyone had their eyes on the entire spring,"
Cummings said. "It has since been muddied even a little bit more with (transfer)
Clint Trickett coming in from Florida State. There really wasn't any
headway made between junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman
Ford Childress. Both of them had their moments in the spring game, but overall
the two went back and forth.
"That's going to continue to be the story here heading into the fall. It's what
everybody is talking about here."
Cummings said a second primary storyline is West Virginia building on its first
season in the Big 12.
"As we all know, West Virginia's defense struggled mightily last season," he
said. "It was one of the worst in the country, statistically, and a historically
bad defense for West Virginia. There are a lot of returning starters and they're
trying to rebuild their confidence. There have been some defenses here that have
struggled, but this defense last year was really surprising. They couldn't stop
anybody hold on third down, they couldn't generate a pass rush and West Virginia
had a change last season with Keith Patterson taking over as the full-time
defensive coordinator from Joe DeForest.
"There is confidence in the spring. The group looked as good as you could expect
for a spring game, but that's going to need to spill over."
BIGGEST SURPRISE
West Virginia only returns two offensive players that started seven or more
games in 2012, but the program expects to reload with a handful of talented
newcomers and the return of running back Andrew Buie.
"One of the biggest surprises is just how deep the offense is as a whole,"
Cummings said. "I don't want to say it's not missing a beat because there's a
lot of work still left to do. But they should be able to move the football
effectively."
Two receivers in particular received especially high marks.
"It seems like West Virginia will have some playmakers step up," Cummings said.
"West Virginia lost a lot on offense, especially the wide receiver positions,
but there are even guys coming in this summer that will add to the mix even
more. Throughout the spring, there were some guys that really kind of made a
name for themselves.
"Junior college transfer Kevin White enrolled early and stole the show
at the spring game along with Jordan Thompson who got some burn last
year. I think both those guys fared well."
Buie's return is a big positive, but he isn't Holgorsen's only option in the
backfield.
"They return leading rusher Andrew Buie and people know what they expect out of
him," Cumings said. "There's another junior college transfer,
Dreamius Smith from Wichita, Kansas. He's a guy that can be an every down back and add
depth along with early enrollee Wendell Smallwood."
KEY CONCERN
We're back at square one. The biggest concern entering fall camp is whether one
of the quarterbacks can set himself apart from the others and take control of
the team.
"The coaching staff is pretty coy with its answers," Cummings said. "I think
they're being genuine though. They're really saying there is no one taking the
reigns. Clint Trickett is involved now as well. He arrived a couple of days ago.
Dana's offense comes down to timing and getting the football out of your hands
and those are things Clint Trickett does very well."
There's no predetermined date for Holgorsen to decide among the three
quarterbacks.
"This could be a thing where the battle goes to the last day of fall camp,"
Cummings said. "It could go all the way until the first game. It could go into
the season. Dana said he wants to decide on one, but one of these guys needs to
take the reigns and show he can be the leader of this team."
QUICK HITS
• Missed Significant Time: CB Terrell Chestnut (ACL),
LB Jewone Snow (shoulder), WR Dante Campbell, CB
Avery Williams (neck), OL Adam Pankey (ACL, out until October)
• Position Switches: CB Vernon Davis from Miami has
been switched to WR
Schedule Note: Unlike last season, WVU will not make
back-to-back trips to Texas in 2013. ... The 'Eers don't have back-to-back home
games this season, and will only play in Morgantown twice between the end of
September and Thanksgiving -- Texas Tech (Oct. 19) and Texas (Nov. 9).
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