By George O’Bryan
WVU and their fans will be pleased with the Mountaineer defense in 2015, as it will likely be among the top 10. The team’s success in the win-loss column will lie in the hands of the offense.
It all starts with the offensive line. Can it run block? Can it open holes, maintain blocks and also block at the 2nd level? WVU has a quality core of running backs going into the 2015 season, but they will need help up front.
I don’t care who wins the starting QB job, nor do I care about how proficient he is at running the offense, without accurate passing WVU will not be able move the ball effectively.
Whoever is chosen as the starter will need to run the offense, release passes on time, accurately throw down field, squeeze passes into tight windows, and have good ball placement in order to throw a receiver open. The right touch on short passes is also crucial.
All the hype is currently on Skyler Howard and his ability to run the offense, but when it comes to passing he is struggling along with the other quarterbacks. After a season of starting in two games and finishing another, he is still late getting the ball out of his hand and struggles throwing deep.
As a WVU fan, I’d rather see the starter who is someone a little less efficient at running the offense and more efficient at throwing the football. As far as mobility and being able to extend plays, all of the current WVU QBs can do this. This ability is not unique to Howard.
The other area that must be improved is blocking during punt returns. Returners need room to catch the ball, and room to make a play once it is in their hands. It is a sad note to know that if WVU gains 1 yard all year in a punt returns that it would be an improvement, for they had 0 return yardage last season in receiving punts.
My two major concerns going into the fall are the play of the offensive line and the QB, as the success of this team will require quality play at these positions.
It would not be surprising to see two or more quarterbacks on the field in 2015. The Maryland game will be key, and if the starting QB does not perform well he could be replaced when WVU faces its first Big XII opponent.
This season could be another 2013 season at quarterback. The difference being that WVU has loads of talent at this position, where in 2013 it lacked talent other than Trickett and he lacked the experience required to be the starter.
The growth and improvement this team makes over the next 4 1/2 months will determine whether WVU has a 5–7 or 9–3 season. Any more than 7 wins will be a bonus. This is a rebuilding year for much of the offense and it will take them a season to get used to one another and playing in the Big XII.
Fans will see a much improved team in 2016 and WVU should have a team that can compete for the Big XII Title in 2017.
Edited by Michael Walker