While I predict WVU to win 7 regular season games and to finish the regular season 7 – 5, others believe it is possible for WVU to win 10 regular season games and finish the regular season at 10 – 2. As we all know, ‘all things are possible’. In the case of WVU a 10 win season is not that much of a stretch.
For WVU to be successful, it all starts with QB Skyler Howard and whether he has made enough improvement in his short and intermediate passing game. If he has, then WVU has a good shot at winning at least 9 games.
If Howard has not improved in these areas of his passing, is Holgorsen willing to pull him and put Chris Chugunov in? Based on what I’ve seen, heard, and read, Chugunov offers WVU the best chance at a 9 plus win season.
WVU suspended 4-Star RB Donte Thomas-Williams and subsequently dismissed him from the team and university. When DTW was suspended, so were Kicker Josh Lambert and WR Jovon Durante,but these two are supposed to return to WVU this August. However, no one knows for sure if either of them will return.
With the depth WVU has at kicker and receiver it really doesn’t matter if either of them return. The reason for these 3 players suspension has never been given other than they violated team rules.
WV native Mike Molina has proven he has a good leg and that he can get the job done. With receivers Shelton Gibson, Ka’Raun White, Daikiel Shorts, Gary Jennings, Steven Smothers, Marcus Simms and William Crest, Durante would not be missed if he failed to return.
When we look at the 2016 running backs we see a lot more talent this season than in 2015 with Rushel Shell, Kennedy McKoy, Justin Crawford, Martell Pettway and WR Steven Smothers. Walk-on WV native RB Brady Wilson is also beginning to make a name for himself.
The offensive line is solid beginning with center Tyler Orlosky as well as Kyle Bosch, Adam Pankey, Yodny Cajuste, Grant Lingafelter, Tony Matteo, and Marcell Lazard.
The defensive line is also loaded with Noble Nwachukwu, Darrien Howard, Xavier Pegues, Larry Jefferson, Christian Brown, and Jaleel Fields.
WVU has several linebackers with game experience Justin Arndt, Sean Walters, David Long (who has also played some at safety), Marvin Gross, Xavier Preston, and Al-Rasheed Benton.
When you look at safety and cornerback we also find several plays with game experience. Dravon Askew-Henry, Jarrod Harper, Shane Commodore, Nana Kyeremeh, Antonio Crawford, and Rasul Douglas have all played. Then you throw in some new arrivals such as Jordon Adams, Kazir White, and Toyous Avery and you have a secondary that could prove to be very special.
What all these players need is game experience as a team so they can grow and mature with each other on the field. Depending on how quickly these guys mature playing together will help determine whether WVU wins 7 or 10 games.
If the defense can jell early enough, with the offense WVU has they could very well win 10 or more games. The one game they truly need to win is Oklahoma, for WVU hasn’t beat Oklahoma since the Fiesta Bowl under Head Coach Bill Stewart.
I admit there is a chance WVU could win 10 regular season games, but I just don’t see it happening. I don’t see Howard making a huge improvement in his short to intermediate passing game, and I do not believe Holgorsen would pull him. I also do not see the depth and talent in the secondary that WVU needs to compete in the Big 12.
I could be wrong and sincerely hope I am. I would love nothing more than to see WVU go undefeated in the conference and make the playoffs.