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Fast 40 countdown: West Virginia

August 24, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

West Virginia

Last season: 9-4, 21st in the MRI

The good: West Virginia welcomes in Dana Holgorsen who should provide a huge boost in the game planning and offensive production at West Virginia. Holgorsen has turned teams into scoring machines at every stop he has made, and with the talent on the Mountaineers, there is no reason to believe it won't continue in this stop.

West Virginia loses most of its running output from last season, but that will take a back seat in the new offensive scheme and it will rely more on the arm of Geno Smith. Smith turned in an impressive 24-7 TD-INT ratio last season on 65 percent completions.

Almost all his top targets are back along with most of his offensive line.

In other words, West Virginia could be throwing up 40 points per game early in the year and it won't stop once it hits Big East play.

The bad: West Virginia welcomes in Dana Holgorsen. There was a lot of bad blood aired in the media over the summer, which ultimately led to Bill Stewart being sent packing a year early. Stewart and his wife attempted to discredit the new Mountaineer head coach and it backfired.

It is tough to tell if the entire incident is behind the Mountaineer team. Most of the team was brought in by Stewart and while he was the problem, there can be a hangover effect on kids who looked at him as their leader.

To make things worse, the defense is somewhat in rebuilding mode this season as only four starters are back from an impressive group that allowed just 13.5 points and 261 yards per game.

Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has done wonders with less before at West Virginia, so there is hope he can do it again. After all, this is the Big East. There won't be too many high powered attacks going against the Mountaineers this season.

Best name: Chad Snodgrass

Trending: Flat - While there are a lot of questions around the West Virginia program, they do benefit from playing in the Big East, where there may be only two other teams contending for the league title. Holgorsen's offenses have the ability to compete in shootouts should the defense not fully find its path early on. West Virginia does go to South Florida and Maryland while getting LSU at home, all three of which could be difficult 'W's. Still it is hard to think that West Virginia can't at least come close to last season's win total. Expect the offensive gains and likely defensive drops to offset, having the Mountaineers at the tail end of the MRI Top 25 all season.


Posted August 24, 2011 5:43 PM

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