PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'
Andy Easton ran up an 11-2 record to win last year's contest, although there wasn't too much celebrating after the bowl game. Still, congrats are due for the 2009 champ!
Wer'e not picking on anyone this early in the season – everyone should be optimistic heading in, right? On to the picks!
|Andy Easton||Last Week: -||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
|Coastal Carolina is 0-3 all-time versus FBS teams, being outscored 133-13. With that being said, there will be no doubt in the final outcome, but a few questions may be answered along the way. How is Geno Smith's foot? How will the sophomore react as the team's leader? Has the offensive line improved from last season? Will the talent at wide receiver translate to game situations? How will WVU's secondary play? While we may not get definitive answers to these questions on Saturday, we should have some idea of what to look forward to during the 2010 campaign.|
|Pick: West Virginia 42-13|
|Greg Hunter||Last Week:||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
|Opening against an outclassed opponent allows football programs to work out the kinks in a real-game situation without too much pressure. Yes, everyone can point to the few FCS foes who have jumped up and taken a bit out of a big, bad FBSer, but the odds of that happening anywhere are slim. And the odds of that happening at Mountaineer Field this Saturday are infinitesimal. Now an easy win doesn't automatically mean West Virginia is on a direct path for a BCS bowl. This is a nice opener with a chance to get many players, especially the young one, game experience, but obviously much tougher tests lay in wait down the road.|
|Pick: West Virginia 49-10|
|Patrick Southern||Last Week:||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
In recent years, the season-opener has been a reliable indicator of what was to come in the season that followed. Except for the times it has not.
The Mountaineers struggled to put away Liberty to start the 2009 campaign, and had problems pulling away from "inferior" opposition later on as well. The defense struggled in the 2008 opener against Villanova, yielding 399 yards of total offense to the Wildcats, which should have perhaps tipped off fans that all was not well (facts that only were realized once the team dropped games at East Carolina and Colorado in the next two weeks to fall to 1-2). The blowouts of Marshall and Western Michigan in the 2006 and 2007 openers, respectively, showed that those teams were prepared for the 11-win seasons that followed.
Of course, the first game of the season doesn't always tell the tale. The 48-21 drubbing of Villanova in 2008, in which Pat White was 25-of-33 passing and hit for five touchdowns through the air, made more than a few fans think WVU was ready to make a completely smooth transition to a new style of offense. The team only reached the 30-point plateau four more times that season. While the defense struggled that day, and to a point in the losses at ECU and Colorado that followed, it ultimately turned the corner and became a reasonably solid unit by season's end.
To get to the point of all that verbiage, we'll learn a lot about this team from how it handles Coastal Carolina. But it would be a mistake to think that things aren't subject to change throughout the course of a 12-game regular season.
Fans will see what reporters have seen in the little time they have gotten to watch preseason practices and scrimmages -- that there are many reasons for optimism about the 2010 Mountaineers, but that a few weak spots could keep the team from achieving its ultimate goals. Fans should watch the offensive line especially closely, as improvement there is the single biggest key to success for Bill Stewart and company this year.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-6|
|Jane Donovan||Last Week: -||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
|The weather forecast for Saturday's opener against Coastal Carolina is 66 degrees and sunny, at least here in Morgantown. I'm guessing that the Coastal part of Coastal Carolina might not be quite so pleasant. Neither will their experience on the football field. Noel Devine gets 300 yards in the first half, rests in the second half, puts his name firmly into Heismann speculation, and all the Mountaineers earn a letter.|
|Pick: West Virginia 42-10|
|Matt Keller||Last Week: -||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
|.Coastal Carolina has had three good seasons under its current head coach, and three average ones -- just like West Virginia in the late 80s and early 90s. Thus, one shouldn't assume (WVU '93) that Coastal's program has fallen off considerably or that it is not capable of competing well. West Virginia has too much ability, though, and frankly this should be the easiest game on the slate. It's the first one, so expect stretches of sloppiness, penalties and mistakes and portions of WVU's athletes showcasing themselves. Mountaineers win.|
|Pick: West Virginia 40-20|
|Chris Richardson||Last Week: -||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
Seldom have I ever been this excited for a WVU football season opener. Not because I expect the Mountaineers to run out of the tunnel and instantly morph into the '72 Miami Dolphins, mind you, but simply because it's been way too long since I've seen them in person. Having spent the duration of the 2009 regular season living and working in Arkansas, I missed all 13 games. Now, I'm back in the Mountain State, which means I'll step inside Mountaineer Field for the first time since Pat White's final home game. Also, it'll be the first game I've attended as a fan since my first fall as a WVU student (2003) before I began working for the fine folks here at BGN.
As for Coastal Carolina, the only victory they'll get over WVU this fall is Tyler Thigpen beating out Pat White for the Dolphins' thirrd QB job. This will be a typical opener in which the Mountaineers get a chance to work out the kinks leftover from fall camp. Specifically, I'll be keeping an eye on offensive line play, kickoff coverage, and the battle for the backup QB duties.
|Pick: West Virginia 34-10|
|Cam Huffman||Last Week: --||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
|Coastal Carolina is about waves, sand, drinks on the beach and, of course, baseball. But this isn't a Greg Van Zant club that the Chanticleers will be facing on Saturday. West Virginia is going to be ready for this one, and this won't be one of those FCS games that is closer than expected. Noel Devine goes over 100 yards in the first half, and Geno Smith spends most of the second half smiling on the sidelines as the Mountaineers roll.|
|Pick: West Virginia 37-10|
|Taylor Jones||Last Week: -||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
|I would comment about how I think Coastal Carolina will match up to West Virginia in Saturday's game, if I knew anything about Coastal Carolina. As in past years, the Mountaineers' season opener will likely act more as a scrimmage game, as they will be able to see what offensive combinations work and maybe get the two freshmen quarterbacks some game time reps. Although head coach Bill Stewart said earlier in the week that Coastal Carolina would not be an easy game for West Virginia, if it isn't, we are in for quite a season. It will be interesting to see how Geno Smith has progressed through his injuries and see how he takes over as the new leader of the team. Although the game will allow the Mountaineers to iron out some preseason wrinkles, I predict that they will keep much of their game plan under their hats.|
|Pick: West Virginia 38-7|
|Bill Gleason||Last Week: -||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
It is finally here. Home opener 2010.
I'll admit it is pretty hard to get excited to see WVU play Coastal Carolina. Heck, I live 60 miles from their stadium and I've never seen them play football.
What I do remember is the loudmouthed redneck wearing that ridiculous pastel green heckling our Mountaineers during a baseball game at BB&T Park in Myrtle Beach in Coastal's annual pre-season baseball tournament.
Well big mouth, its payback time.
|Pick: West Virginia 45-13|
|Brian Jolliff||Last Week: -||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
|Chanticleer... yes, I had to Google it. Basically, it's a rooster. Coastal Carolina has a rooster as a mascot. West Virginia has a rifle-toting Mountaineer as a mascot. While the outcome of that scenario could well be played out this Saturday, don't count your chickens before they hatch. Look for the Mountaineers to keep to a plain vanilla game plan this weekend, but steadily pull away from the Chanticleers before putting in the reserves. Thirty-five points would be a good guess, but I expect the new blood on the team to try to show something this weekend and add another score.|
|Pick: West Virginia 42-14|
|Keenan Cummings||Last Week: -||Season: 0-0||Pt Diff: 0|
It's that time of the year again. After a long and often interesting offseason, the Mountaineers finally take the field again Saturday against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
I think the only questions about this matchup are how many points the Mountaineers are going to score and how long Noel Devine is going to be kept in the game to start up his Heisman campaign.
|Pick: West Virginia 42-10|