I read on social media recently where some pundits predicted the Mountaineers would be undefeated when Oklahoma comes to town. With Oklahoma being WVU’s 10th game of the season, I seriously doubt that this will be the case.
The major sports networks are predicting WVU has a 7-5 regular season, and with the way things currently stand position wise I have to agree. Most analysts are concerned about the WVU defense, especially the safeties and corners.
Many wonder who will replace Daryl Worley, Terrell Chestnut, Karl Joseph and K. J. Dillon. Believe it or not the cornerback play could actually improve, while the safety position may take a small hit.
There is also all the hype over Skyler Howard, and many believe he has the skills to get it done. This seems to be due to him being voted MVP of the Cactus Bowl. I don’t buy that, for WVU was playing Arizona State whose secondary was extremely porous. Most any college QB would have looked good against them.
I have watched Howard since he arrived at WVU, and I’ve seen very little improvement. I seriously doubt he is 6 foot tall. For him to throw the deep ball, he has to lean way back and launch it.
He has yet to show he can pass on the run, and he has trouble hitting short to medium route receivers. He can run the ball on a limited basis, but he lacks true pocket presence.
I honestly believe that if Holgorsen wants to keep his job, he has to get Chris Chugunov playing time prior to beginning Big 12 play. Let’s look back at some of the comments from Holgorsen and his coaches concerning Chugunov:
- Chris can gun it with the best of them (meaning he has a very strong arm and can hit the deep routes)
- Chris is the most accurate passer of all of the WVU quarterbacks
- “Chris is the smartest quarterback I’ve ever coached,” said Holgorsen
- “Chris is much more athletic than I initially thought,” said Holgorsen
- “Chris has good pocket presence”, again said Holgorsen more recently
If you’ve seen Chugunov in practice, he can throw the ball on the run and is very accurate doing it. Chugunov also has good ball placement whether throwing short, intermediate, or long.
Chugunov can and will run the ball, though he may not have Howard’s speed. He runs like a full-back unafraid to take on tacklers.
These are the things Howard must be able to do proficiently this season if WVU is going to win more than 7 games. If he can’t, WVU will be hearing the ‘boo-birds’ wanting Chugunov to replace Howard.
There is also a lot of talk about this being Rushel Shell III’s big year. I don’t see it. Shell has done very little. If he had done more then he would have left early for the NFL.
Look for Kennedy McKoy to be WVU’s work-horse out of the backfield, and look for Eli Wellman to get the ball more both with passes and running the ball. Shell needs to concentrate on his education, for I don’t see the NFL in his future.
I expect to see the tight-end, whoever it is, become more active in the passing game, as WVU has been recruiting a TE for this purpose.
While there may be some drop off at defense, I don’t see much for there are way too many experienced playes wanting the positions vacated by Worley, Chestnut, Josepth, Dillon, and Nick Kwaitkoski.
The only place I see a drop-off in play on the defense is at safety. I believe the corners will be some of the best we have seen at WVU in a long while, for there were times last season that Worley and Chestnut were way out of position. I was truly shocked to see Worley get drafted as high in the NFL as he did.
WVU is loaded at receiver and running back, and the offensive line has lots of veterans returning. I think WVU could easily get 9-wins with Chugunov at quarterback, but with Howard’s inconsistencies I can’t imagine more than a 7 win regular season.
WVU has the talent to win 9 or 10 games in 2016, but that talent doesn’t do them any good if the talent is on the bench.