A lot is going on with the WVU football team, leaving the coaches and staff with a lot to do over the off season.
As suspected for some time, WVU will be hiring an offensive coordinator. Not only is WVU losing CB Daryl Worley to the NFL, but a redshirt freshman was kicked off the team for his illegal activities in Scottsdale, AZ. They are also losing a major part of their running game with Wendell Smallwood’s decision to go into the NFL draft.
This may not sound that bad, but WVU is also losing 20 seniors, most of them on defense. They include: NT Kyle Rose, S Karl Joseph, S KJ Dillon, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, P Nick O’Toole, LB Jared Barber, CB Terrell Chestnut, LB Shaq Petteway, who have all been starters.
The offense loses: TE Cody Clay, OL Marcus Lucas, LS John DePalma, and IR Jordan Thompson. This is a lot of experience and talent to replace. And to top it off, WVU has lost at least two of the recruits it was going after. The depth on defense should be fine and it is Tony Gibson’s 3rd year as defense coordinator.
The biggest change I see going into the 2016 season is WVU going back to a pass-first offense. The loss of Wendell Smallwood has force this switch, and I believe this will mandate a change at quarterback, for Skyler Howard is not an exceptional passer.
Howard had only 3 passes dropped during the Cactus Bowl, but still had trouble completing the short and intermediate passes. It was within this range that he had most of his over throws. To Howard’s benefit he looked more comfortable in the Cactus Bowl throwing the long ball, and threw it more accurately than I had seen all season.
I suspect we may see Howard as Chis Chugunov’s back-up in 2016. Yes, I know, the media will be focusing on William Crest and David Sills, but the reality of it is Chug’s spent 2015 under Holgorsen’s tutelage and was getting more reps at QB than all the other QBs except for Howard. Look for Crest and Sills stay at WR or possibly moved to the defense.
My concerns going into the 2016 season start with the lack of running back recruits I see on the board. The losses of the graduating seniors, Smallwood and Worley going pro, and the disciplinary loss of two players has opened up a few additional scholarships.
WVU should be loaded at receiver in 2016, and they will need an accurate passer who is also athletic, and this is where Chugs comes in. Chugs has a cannon of an arm, is very accurate, and he is athletic. According to Holgorsen, Chugs is the smartest QB he has ever coached.
When you look at the running game with Rushel Shell III and Donte Thomas-Williams, you haven’t seen a lot so far. Shell has yet to prove himself, and DTW has gotten little playing time. Unless WVU can find a freshman who can come in and start right away, and/or Shell and DTW can step it up to show their worth, then WVU running game could be a lack-luster part of the offense.
For WVU to win more than eight games in 2016, it has got to find at least one RB that offers a lot of what Wendell Smallwood did.
This may be a blessing for a player like IR Jacky Marcellus. It also could be good for FB Eli Wellman. I felt this entire season that Marcellus and Wellman didn’t get enough opportunities with the ball. Smallwood was WVU’s offense and he will be very hard to replace.
The 2016 season will come down to how well the WVU coaches did at recruiting. I know a couple of senior HS running backs that are hard to tackle and are just now getting looked at by D1 teams. I hope WVU is looking at them also.
Good Luck Coaches!