2004 Mountaineers Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> <!--Default NodeId For Rich Rodriguez is 1225801,2004--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:1225801]>Rich Rodriguez</A> (20-16, 65-52-2 overall) <br><br> <b>Last Season's Record:</b> 8-5 (1st place in Big East) <br><br> <b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2004 Gator Bowl (41-7 loss to Maryland) <br><br> <b>Key matchup(s):</b> Sept. 18 Maryland, Nov. 13 Boston College, Nov. 25 @Pitt.

Star Power: QB Rasheed Marshall (6-1, 190, Sr.), WR Chris Henry (6-4, 200, Jr.), LB Adam Lehnortt (6-3, 235, Sr.), LB Scott Gyorko (6-0, 210, Sr.), DB Adam "PacMan" Jones (5-11, 190, So.)

Notable Additions: WR Eddie Jackson (6-4, 225, Sr.) sat out last season as a transfer from Washington; P Phil Brady (5-9, 180, Jr.) sat out last season as a transfer form East Carolina

Notable Subtractions: LB Grant Wiley, DB Brian King, DB Lance Frazier, S Leandre Washington, RB Quincy Wilson.

Notable Returnees: WR Miquelle Henderson (6-2, 205, Sr.), OL Jeff Berk (6-5, 285, Sr.), OL Tim Brown (6-5, 300, Sr.), OL Jeremy Hines (6-2, 285, So.), OL Dan Mozes (6-3, 290, So.), RB Kay Jay Harris (6-1, 230, Sr.), DL Ernest Hunter (6-3, 285, Jr.), DL Ben Lynch (6-4, 270, Sr.), DB Jahmile Addae (5-11, 200, Jr.), DB Mike Lorello (6-1, 200, Jr.)

09/04/04East Carolina
09/25/04James Madison
10/02/04@Virginia Tech
11/13/04Boston College
Offensive Overview: The loss of Quincy Wilson, the latest in a long line of stellar backs, must be offset by senior Kay Jay Harris and a group of talented backups, including Jason Colson, Erick Phillips, and Bryan Wright. Whether they can match the production of Wilson and Avon Cobourne (who departed a year earlier) remains to be seen. Rasheed Marshall is a steady QB who makes few mistakes, but hopes are that he will improve on his mid-range accuracy. His backup, Charles Hales, engineered a win at Boston College last year and would start for most Big East teams. Chris Henry heads a deep cast of wideouts who recorded 19 TDs on just 129 receptions last season. The attention paid to Henry may open the door for Miquelle Henderson, Eddie Jackson and John Pennington in the receiving game.

Defensive Overview: Improving against the pass remains the goal for the 3-3-5 defense employed by the Mountaineers. West Virginia recorded just 17 sacks in 2003, and allowed 259.8 yards per game through the air. Injuries in the secondary and along the front line contributed to that shortcoming last season, and with a deeper talent pool WVU will attempt to mix up defensive fronts to get more pressure on opposing QBs. Against the run, the Mountaineers boast a deep defensive front, led by Ernest Hunter and Ben Lynch, along with a number of promising youngsters. Linebacker has depth concerns, but Adam Lehnortt and Scott Gyorko (each with more than 100 tackles in 2003) are among the best, if most unheralded, in the conference. Replacements for departed secondary stars Brian King and Lance Frazier must be found, but great building blocks are in place in the form of safety Jahmile Addae and cornerback Adam "Pac Man" Jones.

Special Teams Overview: Place-kicker Brad Cooper returns after an up and down junior year, where he made just one kick from beyond 40 yards. Distance is not a concern, as many of Cooper's misses were of the "just barely" variety. Punting is still an open battle between Eric Daugherty and transfer Phil Brady. The Mountaineers boast one of the nation's most electrifying return men in Pac Man Jones, who averaged 26.3 yards per return as a sophomore.

The Mountaineers can win the Big East Title and go to a BCS Bowl if... the passing game improves just a notch, they avoid injuries at linebacker, and promising players in the secondary are able to contribute. Cut 40 yards off the total allowed per game in the passing department, and West Virginia fans will be celebrating on Bourbon Street or in the Valley of the Sun for New Year's.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
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