Fearless Picks: WVU - Norfolk State

It's back to the 50s for many of our predictors, who are calling for more offense from the Mountaineers in their game against FCS foe Norfolk State.

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

The shortened game benefited the members of the panel who had lower offensive outputs on their minds in Week One. Chris takes the crown with a four-point total miss, but Cam, Greg and Matt were all close behind.


NOSE PICKING

New panelist Tony was most hurt by his expectations of lots of offense, and by the shortened game. However, he gets a gold star for not complaining about it -- and it didn't keep him from predicting the highest point output of any panelist for this week.


Chris Richardson Last Week: - Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 4
As of this writing Tuesday night, it has not stopped raining in North-Central West Virginia since the final delay on Sunday. The forecast for the next seven days includes showers until Tuesday the 13th. Pack your ponchos Mountaineer fans. Although I love the Temptations, I won't be humming along to "I Wish It Would Rain" anytime soon. (Sidenote here: where else on the web can you find comprehensive coverage of WVU sports, a reference to "Jersey Shore" in week one, and a reference to a timeless Motown hit in week two? Nowhere. If you can prove me wrong, I'll buy you a $9 beer at Mountaineer Field. But only one. I'm not making that BlueGoldNews.com salary anymore).

West Virginia's offense was good in Game 1, but still had some kinks that needed to be worked out. Of course, the hope from here was that those kinks would be worked out over a dominant fourth quarter against Marshall, but we all know how that worked out. Luckily, they'll have (hopefully) four quarters to work it out against Norfolk State. I predict the first of many 300-yard games from Geno Smith this season, and an improved effort in the running game led by freshman Vernard Roberts.

Pick: West Virginia 59-10
 
Cam Huffman Last Week: -- Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 6
Every year, fans at major colleges all around the country worry about the upset loss to an FCS school. It happened to Michigan a few years ago against Appalachian State. It happened to Virginia Tech last year against James Madison, and it already happened this year when Duke fell to Richmond. Unfortunately for today's visitors, Norfolk State isn't one of those schools. The Spartans are getting better, but they still have a long way to go to compete with the top of their own division. West Virginia appears as though it may be one of the top teams in the bigger division, FBS, and Dana Holgorsen isn't about to let his honeymoon period in Morgantown end with one like this. The Mountaineers will score early and often, and this one will be over by halftime. The new WVU coach won't run it up, but he will keep running his offense with some of the reserves on the field.
Pick: West Virginia 56-14
 
Greg Hunter Last Week: Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 7
West Virginia is 8-0 against FCS/DI-AA opponents, and it certainly should go to 9-0 after Saturday. Obviously there have been and will continue to be upsets by FCS teams over FBS ones, but rather than worry about that, the Mountaineers need to focus on polishing their performance. For West Virginia, this game needs to be about improving every play phase, so the Mountaineers are ready for the tough tests which are soon to come.
Pick: West Virginia 45-10
 
Matt Keller Last Week: - Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 10
There doesn't seem to be a position in which West Virginia doesn't have a decided talent edge in this one. WVU, therefore, needs to work on itself. It must block better, in both the pass and running game. It has to get more production out of the backs as well. And it must work on finishing drives when it gets inside the red zone. Still, even if that happens, it's tough to gauge much versus Norfolk State. I'll be looking for the crispness in play, and the degree of execution as much as anything else. Any struggle here, and the next week before Maryland could be filled with concern.
Pick: West Virginia 44-16
 
Brian Jolliff Last Week: - Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 12
Three-fourths of a game into the season and yet WVU is a legitimate 1-0 on the year, regardless of what our brethren down south might think. But it's on to game number two against an FCS foe in the Norfolk State Spartans. The Mountaineers seemed to have found some spark amid the storm delays following Austin's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and should pick up where they left off last Sunday evening. This game does not look to be much of a contest, and with WVU missing the bulk of the snaps in the fourth quarter last Sunday, look for the offense to take advantage of every possession this coming weekend.
Pick: West Virginia 52-10
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: - Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 15
Woeful offensive line shouldn't be an issue this week. If the running game can't get on track Geno may set the single season pass attempts record before November.
Pick: West Virginia 55-3
 
Patrick Southern Last Week: Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 17
After almost a week of me grumbling about the fact my pick for last week probably would have been close to spot-on had the Marshall game gone a full four quarters (but I'm not bitter or anything), it's already time for week two. And what better way to make up for last week's one-in-a-million, weather-shortened game (still not bitter) than with a perfect pick this time around.

As obvious as it was that the Mountaineers had better talent than Marshall all over the field, the Thundering Herd did a good job of exposing some of WVU's early-season issues. Rest assured those issues have been worked on this (short) week in practice. And without any disrespect to Norfolk State, it just should not be able to field a team capable of competing with West Virginia.

Some complained Dana Holgorsen's offense wasn't quite as explosive in the season-opener as they might have hoped. Those folks won't have to worry about that in week two.

Pick: West Virginia 55-10
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: - Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 17
The message to take away from last Sunday's game is clear: God does not want us to be forced to play Marshall, and will continue to send all sorts of pestilence until this series is over. Next year, expect locusts.

Now that the martians have been dispatched, we can get on with business: a gentle season-opener against the Spartans of Norfolk State that will get all the kinks ironed out before the red meat of the schedule arrives. I hope the ironing will smooth out some pretty wrinkled blocking by all members of the offense who are not handing, throwing, or holding the football. And let's all hope that John "Thunder" Thornton leaves the special effects at home this week.

Pick: West Virginia 54-3
 
Andy Easton Last Week: - Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 18
Former WVU player and graduate assistant Pete Adrian brings his Norfolk State Spartans to Morgantown for only the fourth game against a FBS team in the program's history. The other three games saw the green and gold-clad Spartans lose twice to Rutgers and once to Kentucky by the combined score of 128-3.

Let's face it, this game will be more interesting to see which players get playing time than the final score. How much time will Quinton Spain get? Will Vernard Roberts or Dustin Garrison get the lion's share of the carries? Will Paul Millard make his debut as a Mountaineer?

The Spartans may have won the Trojan War by using the famous Trojan Horse, but these Spartans will have no such luck.

Pick: West Virginia XLVIII-IX (48-9)
 
Tony Dobies Last Week: - Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 29
Head coach Dana Holgorsen wasn't pleased with his offense's blocking and running game against Marshall last weekend. This game against Norfolk State should cure some of those issues, as I expect the Mountaineers, with or without starting running back Andrew Buie, to run the ball with better ease and come away with a blowout victory.

The WVU defense shouldn't have many issues with its opponent this week, especially since Norfolk State's offense is so similar to the one the Mountaineers now run. Seeing it everyday in practice should give West Virginia an edge.

The only way the Mountaineers struggle is if they don't take their opponent seriously. But, I doubt that will happen.

Pick: West Virginia 59-10

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