While the WVU Mountaineers were a good football team in 2016, there are many areas that need improvement going into the 2017 season.
Although WVU’s HC Holgorsen seems to dismiss the need for setting up punt returns, it is an exciting part of any football game for fans, and it could give WVU better field position. The punt return game can add excitement and energize fans while building confidence in players.
Offensively, WVU needs to drastically improve the passing game. While the 2016 passing game was much improved over the the past two seasons, it needs a lot of work.
While Will Grier may well be the starting QB, I think he will be challenged by Chris Chugunov. No matter which one wins the starting QB job, it will be the offensive line that needs to improve. Against teams such as Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Miami the OL really struggled.
WVU’s offensive line struggled with both run and pass blocking against good defenses. I believe part of the struggle was due to their size. Most of WVU offensive line weighed under 310 lbs, with Adam Pankey being the biggest at 316. These guys were going up against much bigger defensive lines, which were able to wear them down.
WVU’s defensive line was also smaller than some opponents’ offensive line. With WVU’s defensive line being asked to take on 2 blockers at the same time, this too wore their bodies down. WVU’s defensive line like WVU’s offensive line needs bigger and stronger bodies, and the defensive line needs to be faster.
If you look at the players WVU is recruiting for both lines, you’ll notice it is going after bigger linemen.
While WVU has a plethora of quality running backs returning, what WVU needs and doesn’t have is 235 to 250 pound power running back. I have been surprised these past few years that WVU hasn’t done more to get Eli Wellman in the roll. Wellman is 6’1″, 240, and is a power runner. Wellman isn’t going to juke anyone or out run them, but he will lower his shoulder and take on a defender. Wellman also has good hands and can catch.
Another area of concern going into the 2017 season, is who will start at cornerback? Can the current CBs plan one on one coverage effectively?
The positions fans shouldn’t be concerned with are safety, linebacker, running back, and receiver. There should be concern about the tightend position. Tevon Wesco caught 1 of 6 passes thrown to him, and struggled blocking. I know Coach Holgorsen wants to develop Wesco as a tightend threat.
While WVU had an improved defense in 2016, it wasn’t overly productive. WVU only returned 1 of 14 interceptions for a touchdown. They also recovered 13 fumbles which they advanced a total of 5 yards with no touchdowns.
Just breaking down the numbers, while WVU’s defense had 61 tackles for loss, the offense allowed 75 tackles for loss. On the brighter side, WVU was much more effective in the red zone in 2016 and previous seasons.