While there are few questions concerning the talent and skill of players on WVU’s defense at cornerback, safety, and linebacker, there are questions concerning the play of the defensive line, more importantly the defensive tackle and ends.
Last season, this defense ranked near the bottom in take-aways and in stopping the run. Can this year’s defensive line step-up and make this defense one of the Top 5 in the nation?
The offense is shrouded in unknowns, for no one has really seen this offense take a snap. Gone is the starting QB and the two top receivers Kevin White & Mario Alford with both now in the NFL.
Questions also surround the presumed starting quarterback, Skyler Howard, and who will replace White and Alford. There are also many questions concerning the offensive line.
The elephant in the room is the punt return game. Last season the punt returners didn’t have an opportunity to run after a catch due primarily to a lack of blocking. This season the coaches have studied punt return schemes of other teams trying find a way to fix the punt return woes of last season.
With 5 WVU players named to a variety of ‘watch lists’ mostly on defense, WVU does have hope as far as the defense goes. If the defensive line can step up and stop the run, and create more turn-overs, then this unit could be a Top 10 defense this season.
With the defense getting positive accolades, everyone’s eyes are focused on the offense. While Skyler Howard appears to the starting quarterback in waiting, can he deliver? The knocks against Howard start with the ball being late leaving his hand and the lack of ease which he throws the deep ball. There is the question getting his timing down with a new group of receivers, and will the offensive line give him time to find an open receiver?
Who will replace Kevin White and Mario Alford? Is there a receiver or receivers that can give WVU that 1-2 punch it saw with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, and with Kevin White and Mario Alford. Wendell Smallwood and Jordan Thompson appear to be at the head of the receiving corp.
The running game appears to be stable, but then again everyone is looking at Rushel Shell to be the leader with this group.
With all the questions and concerns what all this boils down to is this, “Can WVU use the first 3 games to grow and mature into well-oiled machine”? The offense has to mature quickly in the first 3 games if it is going compete against Big XII opponents.
Many fans think WVU will win 9 or 10 games this season. I just don’t see it for there are too many unanswered questions, and this offense is basically a new group of players. I don’t see more than 7 wins. There will be those that get all hyped if WVU starts the season 3 – 0.
Games 4 and 5 against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State respectively will give fans a better picture of what this WVU is capable of. If WVU can go 5 – 0, and compete in the 2nd half of the season, then this will say a lot about the growth and maturity of this team.
These questions are the reason why WVU is ranked 6th in the Big XII as well as the defense.