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West Virginia

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West Virginia had the type of team that could contend with the best in the Big 12 last season, but even with 10 wins, the Mountaineers were handled in all three of their losses. With a lot of that talent gone, it’s a question as to whether Dana Holgorsen can put together consecutive double-digit win seasons.

While competent quarterback Skyler Howard is gone (26 TDs, 10 INTs), a lot of people are sold that Florida transfer Will Grier will be better. After looking solid for the first six games of 2015 for the Gators, he was busted for PEDs and he ended up in Morgantown. If there isn’t a drop off, this unit can be viable, but there are still some issues. The offensive line lost a couple key pieces and had to move around some guys in the spring, so that could be make running the ball a bit more difficult. Then again, that may not matter with Justin Crawford (1,184 yards, 4 TDs, 7.3 ypc) still there with plenty of talent behind him starting with Kennedy McKoy (472 yards). There was also plenty of hype around the line in the spring, namely because tackle Yodny Cajuste is back from a torn ACL. For the passing game to be just as potent with Grier, some new guys have to step up from Ka’Raun White (583 yards, 5 TDs) to Gary Jennings and former QB David Sills.

The Mountaineers had one of the better defenses in the Big 12 last season, but still struggled against the best offenses they faced. With their top three guys gone on the line, it will be a work in progress early with a rotating crew of players up front. To help, linebacker is experienced with Al-Rasheed Benton taking over the middle and sophomore David Long taking up a bigger role. Finding that experience in the secondary could be tough and troublesome given how pass-happy the conference is. The starting corners weren’t set in the spring, while safety looks a little better with Kyzir White and Dravon Askew-Henry. If they can match last season’s 23.4 points per game allowed, it would be a surprise.

Grier will get his first test out of the gates (as will the defense) with a viable Virginia Tech team. With the game at FedEx Field, the Hokies opened that game as small favorites. The main problem for WVU in the schedule will be road games against TCU, Baylor, K State and Oklahoma. And if the Mountaineers want to reach that 10-win mark again, they may have to take down OK State in Morgantown, or win two or three of those road games.

Eight wins should be expected of this group, but if Grier can’t be the answer right away, seven is a real possibility. If the running game can be as good as last season and the defense doesn’t completely fall off, nine or even 10 wins will be possible, but extremely difficult unless they beat Virginia Tech in the opener. After finishing tied for second last year, West Virginia has the fifth-best odds (+1300 at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the Big 12 this season.


2017 West Virginia Mountaineers Football Schedule

Sept. 3 vs. Virginia Tech (at FedEx Field)
Sept. 9 vs. East Carolina
Sept. 16 vs. Delaware State
Sept. 23 at Kansas

Oct. 7 at TCU
Oct. 14 vs. Texas Tech
Oct. 21 at Baylor

Oct. 28 vs. Oklahoma State
Nov. 4 vs. Iowa State
Nov. 11 at Kansas State
Nov. 18 vs. Texas
Nov. 25 at Oklahoma

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