Mid-Summer Preview: West Virginia

When Dana Holgorsen is your head coach you know offense is going to be an emphasis. Oklahoma State fans know that he was responsible for putting together a spread, no-huddle, air-raid style of offense with his own personality that exploded every bit as well, if not even better, than those he was a part of helping to coach at Texas Tech.

As a head coach now at West Virginia, Holgorsen has learned not to force the square peg into the round hole. When you don't have the needed ingredients to throw the ball all over the field, they do give you credit and you can move the football running it.

Last season with defensive coordinator Tony Gibson in his first season putting together a stout defense that was second in the league in passing defense and did the best job of any in putting the brakes on high-powered Baylor and TCU, Hogorsen backed off the air raid and used his ample supply of running backs to move the ball and even control the game some.

The defense is back with eight returning starters including some of the most important positions on the defense with Kyle Rose back at nose tackle and Nick Kwiatkowski back at linebacker and as a huge defensive leader.

The secondary is so good with safety Karl Joseph and cornerback Daryl Worley not just All-Big 12 candidates but potential All-American candidates. K.J. Dillon is at the hybrid safety/LB position and he is the hardest hitter on the defense. It is a "take no prisoners" group on defense.

Another key is that the Mountaineers return the top punter in the conference in Nick O'Toole, who averaged 42 yards a punt but is capable of much better. O'Toole will aid in field position. They also have the top kicker in the league in Josh Lambert too.

On offense, Holgorsen seems prepared to go with Skyler Howard at quarterback. He is potentially a good choice but he may be best handing the ball to proven running backs Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood. Those two behind a mostly veteran offensive line will be fine and give time for Howard and some younger receivers to progress with the passing game.

The schedule is bonkers as West Virginia has three easy non-conference games followed by at OU, Oklahoma State, at Baylor, and at TCU back to back to back to back. No school has a tougher stretch but when it is over, the rest of the season will be much lighter.

West Virginia Mountaineers (8-4 / 5-4)
9/5 Georgia Southern - An easy start and the home team wins it 38-3.
9/12 Liberty - Another breeze for the defense and chance for the offense to grow 42-3.
9/26 Maryland - After an open week, WVU ready for their neighbors with a 24-10 win.
10/3 @Oklahoma - The start of the grind as OU pins first loss on WVU 23-14.
10/10 Oklahoma State - Cowboys still looking for Morgantown answer as Mountaineers bounce back with a 31-24 win.
10/17 @Baylor - Bears remember that loss in Morgantown and what it cost as they get revenge 31-13.
10/29 @TCU - Frogs are tough and on a crazy Thursday night in Fort Worth they beat WVU 41-14.
11/7 Texas Tech - The Red Raiders always fire up Holgorsen and he greets friend Kingsbury with a 23-21 win.
11/14 - Longhorns trip to Morgantown and beat the home team 23-17 in an upset.
11/21 @Kansas - 34-3 West Virginia.
11/28 Iowa State - These two teams typically play close at either place, but Mountaineers blow it open with best offensive game of the year 42-0.
12/5 @Kansas State - Holgorsen has a lot of respect for Bill Snyder and beats the Manhattan mastermind 27-7.


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