Wednesday, August 6, 2008
#7 West Virginia
Offense-The entire offensive line returns along with uber QB Pat White. The loss of Steve Slaton shouldn't upset the Morgantown faithful as Noel Devine should have a breakout year.
Defense- Jeff Casteel's 5-3....excuse me "3-3 stack" defense returns 4 starters, however Senior LB Morty Ivy should provide leadership for the Mountaineers.
Special Teams- Pat Mcaffe is a future scratch golfer.
Schedule-Trips to Colorado, and nemesis Pitt, along with home games against Auburn, and the Coal Killers will challenge a Mountaineer NC run.
Ramblings- WVU is facing a pivotal season. This is the year WVU either turns the corner and makes it to Miami, or once again becomes an "also ran" in the NC picture. If I was a WVU fan (Which I'm not...ever) I'd be screaming NC or bust at first year coach Bill Stewart. The year is also pivotal when looking at the program's future. Specifically, can Bill Stewart and the Mountaineer staff continue to bring in the talent, and win year after year to sustain an elite FBS program. No one can answer these questions, but I suppose we can all look back on this 4 years later and examine the direction of WVU.
Back to this year... Look everyone knows Pat White is the truth, Noel Devine is a game-breaker, and the Defense will be somewhat adequate. I don't question the personnel, or schemes of WVU. What I do question is the "other" factors WVU needs to address this year. 1. Does West Virginia recover from the Rich Rod Hangover? Thats right I said it. You would think it wasn't a big deal, but the reaction of Rod's departure to Michigan leaves me to believe that the Mountaineers, Bill Stewart, and the entire state, will need huge wins against Colorado and Auburn to move on from the whole episode. 2. Can WVU win the small game? WVU has absolutely no problem winning the big game, just look at this, and this. However, the Mountaineers have proven for the past several years that they miss the layups such as South Florida 06,07 and Pitt 07. I'd bet money that the mountaineers will win close in Colorado and handle Auburn quite easily. What I wont bet on is that they'll come out against the Big East schedule unscathed.
At the end of the day, this is Pat White's last year, and the NC window is closing for the Mountaineers. Furthermore, the "new" staff will have to replace the athletes that have been commonplace at WVU for the past several years. When you combine these, along with other factors, it becomes apparent that WVU is facing a pivotal moment in the program's future. Will WVU continue in the land of upper level mediocrity, or will they truly become an elite program for years to come?