Many of the Mountaineers' biggest supporters like ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach who ranked the team No. 7 ignored the defensive troubles that could take place.
CBSsports.com's Brett McMurphy ranked West Virginia No. 12 and didn't even mention the word defense.
After 70 points scored by head coach Dana Holgorsen's offense, I honestly don't blame them. But, WVU has a defense.
And, now it needs a new coordinator.
West Virginia's long-time defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is leaving the football program to go to Arizona. Defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich and cornerbacks coach David Lockwood are leaving, too.
After some spectacular defensive performances and seasons, particularly in 2010, Casteel will take his 3-3-5 defense somewhere else.
West Virginia must find a suitable replacement for Casteel – and it must come quickly. He is the best at what he does – run the 3-3-5 defense – and that style of defense gave opponents fits each year.
His units were able to succeed despite not having the most talent around. And, you look at that 2010 unit, and you see perhaps the best defense in school history.
It will be a huge loss – one that might cost the Mountaineers a chance to challenge for a national title in 2012. Unless, that is, Holgorsen gets a sure bet at defensive coordinator in the future.
I've read the same names all of you have, and I know some of them are stretches. WVU needs to find a defensive coordinator that can quickly get the job done. I'd hate to see next year's offense not get a legitimate shot at a championship because of a weak defense.
You'd have to think that there isn't another coach who would come in and want to run a 3-3-5 defense. Few have any idea how to do it well. Heading into the Big 12 Conference, I would've loved to have seen what the 3-3-5 could do. Instead, I'd expect the Mountaineers would have to find a coordinator comfortable with a 3-4 scheme.
WVU doesn't have the bodies or the talent along the line to run a 4-3 defense. It probably isn't the best scheme for the conference, either.
Finding a coordinator who is knowledgeable about covering spread defenses will be key. Athletic linebackers and rush-capable defensive linemen will be key. What might be an even bigger position, however, is cornerback. WVU must find a way to have more than two and at times four players able to cover receivers.
If Holgorsen hires a strong defensive coordinator – and we might not know whether he is strong or not until next year at this time – the 2012 season looks bright.
Yet, there are too many question marks to say, right now, just how good the Mountaineers will be in 2012.
Follow @BlueGoldNews for complete coverage of WVU athletics.
For more from Tony Dobies, subscribe to the Blue & Gold News print edition: http://bit.ly/SubscribeToBGN