No win-loss magic in West Virginia’s football squad
SHEPHERDSTOWN – When last seen, West Virginia and its stand-in quarterback were getting tamed, 30-14, by Utah on a cold and foggy afternoon in a little-watched bowl game where the attendance was announced at 20,507.
Not much of a “say-goodbye” to the 2017 season.
That season ended with a 7-6 overall record and a 5-4 mark in the Big 12 Conference.
As always in the Mountain State, hope springs eternal.
Hope is based on the possible Heisman Trophy run of senior quarterback Will Grier. Grier was missing with an injured hand when last season closed.
Hope is also based on the Mountaineers shredding defenses with their pass offense, especially the Grier-to-David-Sills-V combination.
But can the offense produce significant rushing yardage, or a consistent running back?
Other than experienced Yodny Cajuste, are there any offensive linemen of much note?
Everybody from Amos Alonzo Stagg to Fielding “Hurry Up” Yost expect nearly all of the Big 12 games to be free-scoring exhibitions that humiliate the league’s defenses.
Can WVU’s three-man defensive line and three-linebacker alignment do anything to change those expectations?
Dravon Askew-Henry is a defensive back with tons of experience and tons of injuries on his dossier.
As per usual, three non-conference games lead the schedule. And then comes a Big 12 slate that sees the Mountaineers play five straight conference games against teams they defeated in 2017 . . . and then see Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma — the four teams they lost to last year.
Perhaps the record had best be beyond .500 when Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are all that’s left to the schedule.
The season opener is another made-for-television edition that has Tennessee facing the Mountaineers on Sept. 1 in Charlotte. The Big Orange slinked into the offseason with a 4-8 overall and an embarrassing 0-8 record in the SEC.
Losses to both Vanderbilt and Kentucky in the same season were not what the folks on Ol’ Rocky Top were looking for from Coach Butch Jones. Jones was “relieved of his duties” and told to take his orange windbreaker and flying-arms stance elsewhere.
The second game comes at home against the Youngstown State Penguins, a team that was 6-5 a year ago, including an overtime loss to Pittsburgh in its season opener.
North Carolina State is the third non-conference opponent. This game will be played at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
The Wolfpack was 9-4 overall and finished up with a win over Arizona State in its bowl game.
West Virginia’s non-conference schedule is completely changed. But there are those nine conference games.
Baylor, a team that came into the 2017 season in Stage 5 disrepair, lost to WVU by two points a year ago. The Bears have to be in a better frame of mind this time around. Can the Mountaineers sweep Iowa State, Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor and Texas Tech like they did in 2017? And can they break through somewhere against Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma?
West Virginia hasn’t beaten Oklahoma since it joined the Big 12.
Hope springs eternal. But hope isn’t manning the front line of the 3-3-5 defense.