2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The West Virginia Offense
No pressure, but throw for 300 yards per game on a regular basis with all new parts. Will Grier had the offense down last year, the receiving corps was loaded with talent, and everything was set up perfectly to throw for over 4,200 yards with 38 touchdowns in an amazing year.
And it still wasn’t enough to do any better than 8-4.
However, considering all the issues and concerns on the defensive side, and with high-octane offenses like Missouri’s and NC State’s early one before the Big 12 fun starts, the passing attack had better be ready to throw, throw and throw some more.
QB Austin Kendall is a great prospect – he has to be ready. The top four receivers are gone – but there’s no time to worry about what might have been or get stuck wondering if anyone can produce.
Being efficient is fine, and relying on the running game at times is a must, but right out of the box, the air show has to be fantastic.
Biggest Key To The West Virginia Defense
West Virginia secondary … survive and advance. It might be ugly for a while until all the coaches can put together all the puzzle pieces, but that might take a while.
Just about every safety who ever played for West Virginia transferred or was out of eligibility this offseason – slight exaggeration, but not far off – and the pressure will be on the already taxed corners who did everything possible to last year, including generating a whole lot of tackles.
It’s the cost of doing business in the Big 12 to give up 300 passing yards and a ton of big plays on a regular basis, but until the offense finds its footing, the secondary has to be able to come up with just enough stops to hold serve.
The D that allowed 200 yards or more in each of the last ten games, and got ripped to shreds for over 1,100 yards in the final three, has to start by not giving up home runs.
Last year, WVU went 0-3 when allowing three or more touchdown passes. To take this even further, it’s 1-7 over the last three years when it gives up three or more scoring throws. And that’s why …
Key Player To A Successful Season
S Sean Mahone, Jr.
More to the point, and and all of the safeties must step up and shine in place of all the lost parts. All-Big 12 performer Kenny Robinson bolted to the transfer portal, as did Derrick Pitts and Eugene Brown, all of which would’ve made the Mountaineer secondary a possible strength.
The 5-11, 202-pound Mahone is fast enough to work at corner, but he has to go from promising backup to statistical star in one fall camp. He can hit, but he has to prove he can be consistent in one of the safety gigs.
Key Game To The West Virginia Season
Texas, Oct. 5
Let’s be fair here. Neal Brown and the new coaching staff need a little time to replace several key parts and make everything work, so allow for a wee bit of a free pass in early non-conference games against Missouri on the road and NC State at home. But by the opener in October, it’s Game On.
It’s asking for way too much for a repeat of last year’s thrilling 42-41 Mountaineer win over Texas – one of the best games of the season – but both teams get a week off to rest up and prepare. Pull this off in Morgantown, and the Neal Brown era takes off with a huge win and an early signature moment.
– West Virginia Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 West Virginia Fun Stats
– First Half Scoring: West Virginia 288 – Opponents 145
– Fumbles: Opponents 25 (lost 9) – West Virginia 16 (lost 7)
– Average Yards Per Pass: West Virginia 9.5 yards – Opponents 8.0 yards