The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the West Virginia Mountaineers.
No. 16: West Virginia Mountaineers
Spring Practice Starts: February 27
Spring Game: April 7
West Virginia Mountaineers Spring Status
Yeah, the defense has to replace some terrific players, and yeah, not having around RB Justin Crawford, WR Ka’Raun White and OG Kyle Bosch will hurt a wee bit. But it’s the Big 12. The Mountaineers will still be able to bomb their way through most games.
At least that’s the plan.
With Oklahoma State likely taking a step back, Texas not quite there yet, and TCU not going to be as strong, this is the year for the Mountaineers to finally make that jump up into the Big 12 title chase. Just get into the top two, and play for the title.
Last year’s team struggled in a few close, key games that could’ve gone either way, QB Will Grier got banged up, and the rest of the season was a problem.
It’s a big offseason for Dana Holgorsen and the team. There’s reason to be excited about the possibilities, but that only happens if those pieces are in place on defense to it can hold serve for Grier.
West Virginia Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Cornerback. Obviously, you can’t survive in the Big 12 if you can’t at least occasionally slow down the better passing attacks, and now West Virginia has to go on with out Elijah Battle at one corner and Mike Daniels on the other.
Derrek Pitts has the talent to be a good one with a little bit of time, and a few JUCO transfers were brought in to help the cause, but it’ll take the offseason to find the right defensive backs to work around S Dravon Askew-Henry.
West Virginia Biggest Issue
Third downs. It seems crazy considering Will Grier and the passing game were so great, but the Mountaineer offense converted just 33.5% of the time on third downs, dipping below the 30% mark five times, losing three four of them. Grier is supposed to be a third down machine, and past WVU teams didn’t have this problem. The O has to be well above 40%.
West Virginia Biggest Positive
Grier and the passing game. Look … out. Grier is back and ready to roll after suffering a hand injury late last year, and so is David Sills, the 18-touchdown catch breakthrough star of the Big 12 season. White might be done, but leading receiver Gary Jennings is back. Four of the top five pass catchers return, and there’s more on the way.
Really, Why Are The West Virginia Mountaineers Ranked Here?
As long as Grier can cut down on his interceptions, the passing game and the offense should put up 500 yards on a regular basis. The defense will never be a rock, but the pass rush should be fine, and there should be just enough production to let Grier do his thing.