What to Know - West Virginia

Mountaineers in search of defense to supplement explosive offense

There’s no doubting Dana Holgorsen can coach offense. His track record is undeniable at every stop he has made – Texas Tech, Houston, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

His challenge now, in recruiting and on the field, is to produce a defense comparable to the Mountaineers’ offense. West Virginia, despite being just four games under .500, has allowed more than 30 points 16 games in the past two years alone.

“You better be able to improve defensively and stop some people if you want to win some games,” Holgorsen said. “That doesn’t mean you need to hold people to 14 points. … You better be able to plug people in there when guys go down or get tired and be able to perform at a high level if you want to win games in the Big 12.”

Against Baylor, West Virginia has scored 112 points. But they’ve split the lone Big 12 meeting with the Bears, who have scored a combined 136 points in the two games. The winner of both games eclipsed 70 points.

The Mountaineers have the offense to compete in the Big 12, but they lack the defense. That changes on the recruiting trail.

“When you play in the Big 12, you’re going to have to defend the pass, and you’re going to have to do it quickly,” Holgorsen said. “I think everybody understands the style of play that exists in the Big 12, and we’re no different. When it comes to recruiting defensive personnel, we try to recruit as much defensive personnel as you can. … The secondary is probably the most important position on the defense in today’s day and time. We need a pass rush. With that said, we need guys to cover.”

Holgorsen cited that he has 55 players on his roster who have competed in the Big 12, meaning that his team might finally be accustomed to what it will see week-in and week-out in the conference.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

14 - West Virginia is the 14th winningest program in college football history and has the 14th best record in the past 11 years. … 5 - West Virginia lost just five players with at least 10 games started from last year’s team. … 1 - West Virginia punter Nick O’Toole has the best mustache in college football (Google it). … 8 - Oklahoma and West Virginia combined for eight turnovers in last season’s 16-7 Sooners’ victory.


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