2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 43 West Virginia Mountaineers
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the West Virginia Mountaineers
No. 43: West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia Mountaineers Prespring Status
The Mountaineers might have finished with a bowl game thud – losing to Miami 31-14 – and they might have clunked in the two big Big 12 games they had to win – losing to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State – but it was a strong ten-win campaign for the league’s third-best team in 2016. The offense was balanced and effective, and the defense wasn’t all that bad outside of the three losses. But can head coach Dana Holgorsen come up with something even better in a rebuilding year?
With WR Shelton Gibson leaving early for the NFL, seven starters are done on offense, while eight starters have to be replaced on the defensive side. Holgorsen has been around long enough to have his recruits in place, and now they have to rock.
West Virginia Mountaineers Biggest Issue
The defensive losses are massive. The offense will be fine in time – it’s a Dana Holgorsen team; the O will work – but the defensive side has way too many issues to deal with losing three of the top four producers in tackles for loss, five of the top seven, and nine of the top 12. In terms of tacklers, four of the top five have to be replaced, and ten of the top 13 are gone. To put it more simply, a slew of new guys will get playing time right away.
West Virginia Mountaineers Biggest Positive
The offensive backfield is promising. 1,184-yard back Justin Crawford returns along with Kennedy McCoy, but the real excitement is around Will Grier, the Florida transfer who should be a more-than-capable replacement for Skyler Howard. It’ll be a rebuilding job overall, but the explosion will be there once the receiving corps finds its replacements.
Really, Why Are The West Virginia Mountaineers Ranked Here?
There’s way too much rebuilding to do to rank the Mountaineers too much higher. 2016 was the season everything was building towards, and it turned out to be a great year, but can the team come up with a better record with so many question marks? Is it possible to keep pace with an Oklahoma, an improved Texas, a dangerous Oklahoma State, and on and on in the Big 12? No team in the conference might have a more important spring session.