Biggest Questions Heading Into Spring Ball

West Virginia opened up spring camp on Sunday and will spend the next month or so working on improvements for the 2012 season. The Mountaineers are projected as a top-15 team (maybe even a top-10 team by some), so the stakes are as high as they were back in 2008 during former head coach Bill Stewart's first year.

West Virginia opened up spring camp on Sunday and will spend the next month or so working on improvements for the 2012 season.

The Mountaineers are projected as a top-15 team (maybe even a top-10 team by some), so the stakes are as high as they were back in 2008 during former head coach Bill Stewart's first year.

With a new conference and a revitalized program, WVU has something to prove and supposedly the tools to do it.

There are question marks, however.

Now, let's look at those questions that many Mountaineer fans are looking forward to answering this spring.


Will the offensive line improve to allow WVU to display its total playbook?

The offensive line will be without its best player, tackle Don Barclay, but it does return what should be its lineman with the most upside, Josh Jenkins, who was out due to a knee injury and subsequent surgery during last year's Gold-Blue Spring Game.

This unit won't have much depth, but it does have the potential to be the best line in a handful of years at WVU. With position coach Bill Bedenbaugh leading the way, I'd expect a huge increase in production from this unit.

Remember that despite the 70-point performance in the Orange Bowl, two months earlier, Holgorsen was so frustrated with the lack of production from the offensive line that he threw it under the bus as a reason for struggling to hit the 30-point plateau.

When talking with some of the new defensive coaches last week, it was fairly clear that this unit will be devoted to speed and athleticism. Do the Mountaineers have the talent to change their ways and play this style of defense? We'll all find out soon enough.


Who will replace the defensive leaders from last year's unit?

Gone are cornerback Keith Tandy, linebacker Najee Goode and defensive linemen Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller.

There is a gap of leadership that really hasn't been seen in the last handful of years in the Puskar Center.

To me, the players that need to make the most significant vocal leadership improvements are safeties (and maybe even linebackers) Terence Garvin and Darwin Cook. The two are good friends and know how to lead by example. It's going to take more than that without those leaders from last year's unit around.


How will the defensive players take to this new scheme?

It's not a 3-3-5. That style of defense will be long gone, and something different will be installed this spring. It will be a 3-4 with the ability to change it up from time to time and go to a 4-3.

I bet most would say that this new defense that will be installed by co-coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson is going to be less thinking and more acting. But, that doesn't mean the transition won't be difficult.


Who is going to step up at running back now that sophomore-to-be Dustin Garrison will be out for the spring?

Holgorsen said that Garrison, the team's starting running back who was injured during an Orange Bowl practice and had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his knee later in January, would obviously be out in the spring and should be back over the summer.

It's going to be up to running backs Shawne Alston and Andrew Buie to step up and surprise the coaches. The two did a formidable job in the Orange Bowl, but they have to continue that trend.


Who will be the backup quarterback?

Everyone knows about starter Geno Smith and his ability. He will be a Heisman Trophy candidate whether Holgorsen wants to talk about it or not. But, the backup is in question. It will be up to two players – last year's backup Paul Millard and true freshman Ford Childress from Texas. Those two will have to battle it out of the spot, and that might be a fun one to watch throughout practice and fall camp.


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