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2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #19 West Virginia

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 9, 2017

#19 West Virginia Mountaineers

2016 Recap:
It may have been one of the easier schedules in the country but wins are wins when it comes down to it and West Virginia registered 10 of them on the season. The three Mountaineer losses came against Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and to Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Still the offense produced nearly 500 YPG and exceeded all expectations.


Coaching:
Dana Holgorsen needed this big season at West Virginia as some whispers has started to surface regarding whether he was the right coach to lead the program. West Virginia has some shortcomings on defense to address with Tony Gibson but overall Holgorsen seems entrenched in his 7th season leading West Virginia.

 

Offense

The offense will need an identity early on easy West Virginia seems to carry this notion that they will utilize the aerial attack often with Will Grier behind center. Grier was banned for suppliment use after a successful start to his career with the Florida Gators. The top two West Virginia receiving targets from last season are gone and they have a pair of taleneted running backs to lean upon in  Justin Crawford and Kennedy McCoy. Ka'Raun White will be the top returning pass catcher after hauling in  48 for over 500 yards and 5 touchdowns a season ago. West Virginia is known for their offensive line play, especially along the inetrior where the University has produced a lot of NFL talent. Tyler Orlovsky is gone at center meaning not only talent but leadership must be replaced. Guard Kyle Bosch looks to fill the leadership role left void by Orlovsky and is the most talented lineman on the roster.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Justin Crawford RB 5th Round 2018.

                                       Kylke Bosch OG 6th Round 2018.


Defense

West Virginia, like many Big 12 defenses, will employ a 3-3-5 as the primary package for their defensive schemes. West Virginia has three new starters along the line so the linebackers look like the most dependable area of the defense. The Mountaineers are undersized but they have superior open field tacklers led by Al-Rasheed Benton. Benton and his 80 stops are tops among returning players. Kyzir White plays a vital role linking the linebackers with the secondary and is the man on the move in many of the schemes. The backups are littered with freshman, sophomores and JUCO transfers so West Virginia needs to stay healthy and bring along the depth at a slow and manageable pace.

Best Draft Prospects: Dravon Akew-Henry S 6th/7th Round 2019.               

                                       Al-Rasheed Benton LB UFA 2018.


Special Teams:

Billy Kinney is a punter that could wind up being one of the leaders of the 2019 draft class. Mike Molina was not as accurate as the Mountaineers would like but he has a strong leg that can hit from distance. Gary Jennings should be the primary return man for kickoffs and punts while the coverage teams should excel once again for the Mountaineers.


Schedule:

Opening week West Virginia takes on Virginia Tech in Landover Maryland, one of the better opening week games across conferences that will loom large for both schools. Three of the first four games in the Big 12 are on the road so West Virginia needs to avoid an early season stumble. The season finale at Norman against the Sooners could end up deciding the Big 12 Champion.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

There is not as much draft talent visible at this time but the Mountaineers are capable of big things if Will Grier finds the same type of success at West Virginia that he did at Florida.

 

DJ Boyer