WVU has historically had top level offenses and this year will be no different. In the very recent future they’ve had extremely high level QBs, such as Pat White and Geno Smith, and this year the man leading them out of the tunnel is possibly the best QB in the country. On top of that, he will be leading possibly the best air attack in the country… but is it enough for WVU to threaten perennial champ Oklahoma?
Prestige Ranking (If NCAA Football 19 existed): 4*… West Virginia has never once won a national championship. Recently they’ve had pretty good, above average success, but not quite enough against high level competition to warrant a move to 5 stars.
Last Year’s Record: 7-6 (5-4 Big 12)
Projected Returning Starters:
QB Will Grier, WR David Sills, WR Gary Jennings, OL Yodny Cajuste, OL Matt Jones, OL Colten McKivitz
WVU brings back the most important part of it’s offense in 2018, Will Grier. As previously mentioned Grier is possibly the best QB in the country this year, and a Heisman campaign has already begun making waves in Morgantown. Grier will bring back 2 of his top targets in 2017. Jennings, who led the team in receptions and receiving yards last year, as well as Sills, who led the team (and tied for the national lead) in receiving TDs last year. WVU will have to replace it’s leading rusher, but bring back Kennedy McCoy who got significant carries last year. They also bring back 3 of 5 lineman who can protect Grier as well as create room for McCoy to break into his own star.
DL Reese Donahue, LB Dylan Tonkery, DB Dravon Askew-Henry, DB Toyous Avery
While the specific number doesn’t look great for the Mountaineers, they bring back a decent bit of production. While Donahue technically started for the Mountaineers, Ezekiel Rose is also back, and he was the team leader in sacks last season. Also unmentioned is DB Kenny Robinson, who was 6th in tackles and tied for team lead in INTs last season. They lose their top 3 tacklers, one being their top DB, but the Mountaineers will find a way to rebound. Defense was never their strength anyway. Dravon Askew Henry will be one of the leaders of the defense this year, and is a stud… he will be helping get them into shape and ready for Tennessee in week 1.
Special Teams: 2
P Billy Kinney, KR/PR Marcus Simms
Billy Kinney was solid for WVU last season, averaging almost 41 yards per punt. They also return Marcus Simms, who was their leading punt and kick returner in 2017. They replace their kicker Mike Molina, but Evan Staley filled in for Molina at points last year, and he will be back for the team this year.
RB Justin Crawford, WR Ka’Raun White, LB Al-Rasheed Benton, LB David Long, DB Kyzir White
Justin Crawford had over 1000 rushing yards for the squad last year to help keep defenses on their toes and open up the field for Grier to go to work, they will need McCoy to pick up some slack in his absence. Ka’Raun White was 2nd on the team in 3 categories: total reception, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Benton was the team leader in total tackles from his LB spot last year.And White was 2nd in tackles and was tied for the team lead in INTs as well. David Long also was very productive last year, finishing 3rd in tackles and 2nd in sacks for the Mountaineer defense.
Five Year Recruiting Rank (Bill Connelly): 39
West Virginia is in a tough place for recruiting. Most Big 12 players come out of Texas, or areas close to Texas, and with WVU being so far away it’s hard to get those players. Also, Morgantown doesn’t always have the pull of other college towns like say Austin, TX or Columbus, OH, which also makes it hard. They need many recruits from Juco or from transfers to compete. They are succeeding in that right with 2 of their best players (Ezekiel Rose and Will Grier) coming to WVU in those fashions.
Outlook: WVU’s schedule doesn’t look too bad at first glance. They have 2 non conference matchup with power 5 opponents, but both in very winnable games for the Mountaineers (vs Tennessee and NC State). If they survive a trap game against Kansas State, it’s possible WVU goes into November at 8-0. Unfortunately, the last 4 weeks are against 4 of the 5 best teams in the conference (with WVU being the 5th). They play, in order, @Texas, TCU, @Oklahoma St, and Oklahoma. If they are able to somehow win 3 of those games and qualify for the Big 12 championship, they are most likely looking at a rematch against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game with a shot at the playoff. I just don’t see it happening with this schedule for the Mountaineers.
Alcohol Prediction for Fans By Seasons End:
Gotta go with Moonshine here, simply because of it’s regional relevance. Moonshine is always associated with West Virginia. Also it works because moonshine is very high proof, so it’s very strong. It’ll leave you feeling good at the beginning but you’ll regret going for it in the end.
The Tyroil Smoochie-Wallace All Name Team:
Quondarius Qualls. This sounds like a name straight out of the Key and Peele East/West Bowl sketch from which this category originated.