Optimistic attitude and excitement prevail in Morgantown
MORGANTOWN — Attitude and mindset are often just as important in athletics as are the skill levels and experience of the players.
As West Virginia aims its season-opening weapons at James Madison, there are smiles as wide as the suspension bridge near Summersville, which hangs over the age-old New River.
Players, coaches and followers are all waiting to see if their hopes for a successful debut season with Coach Neal Brown will come to fruition.
Upbeat is the attitude of nearly all directly or indirectly associated with the Mountaineers of the 2019 season.
Most people realize this will be a young team with the same problems and inconsistencies that most inexperienced teams show.
A first-time starter at quarterback. Wide receivers with little or no track record. Defensive backs with potential, but with no proof of their value. The offensive line has the same sort of inexperience as seen elsewhere. And where is the depth (if any) coming from this year?
Brown is not a magician. Nor an illusionist. But his recent past at Troy gives his backers reason to believe he can build worthwhile teams in a season or two. Playing in the Big 12 means his building and molding need to be accomplished before the rampant optimism begins a fast fade and hides in the hollows of Boone and Mingo counties.
West Virginia’s schedule is going to be a problem. Missouri has talent and so does North Carolina State. And then comes the Big 12 slate of slugfests with the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa State, Texas Christian and the Baylor Bears.
Even this week’s opener versus James Madison is likely to be troublesome.
But Morgantown will be alive and brimming with a consensus positive attitude. The beginning of the Brown Era has cast its long shadow over the city. And the whole state is ready to yell itself hoarse, if this team can find the ways to show the forecasters they have been wrong, in evaluating how the season will develop.
Out of the 10 conference teams, predictions believe the Mountaineers will finish ahead of only Kansas and Kansas State, teams that have first-year coaches like WVU.
Attitude can often be counted on to help teams to close victories. But attitude can only stretch itself so far when trying to cover for limited talent and depth.
Can people continue to smile when losses creep into their tailgate party? We will see when the difficulty of this schedule stamps reality on the games coming in October and November.