West Virginia had a great 2018, going 8-4 and finishing in the CSD Prime top 20, but they face one of the biggest projected drop-offs in the country heading into 2019, as they lose their all-conference quarterback, top four receivers, and leading tackler, sack-getter, and TFL-getter, returning just nine starters overall, one of the lowest marks in the country. They lose one other thing too, head coach Dana Holgorsen, who voluntarily left for a G5 job. I love the hire WVU brought in to replace Holgorsen, Troy HC Neal Brown (31-8 with the Trojans the past three years), but year one may see a significant drop-off.
The first question on offense is the QB spot, where Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall will face off against last year’s backup, Jack Allison for the starting job. Whoever the unknown quantity at QB is, he won’t have much in the name of reliable targets as the receiving corps sees massive turnover with the top four gone from last year’s solid group.
The line loses three starters, including all-conference left tackle Yodny Cajuste, but Josh Sills returns at RG after a good year. The offense will take a step back but there is one bright spot on the offense at the halfback spot, where three guys who combined for 1,871 yards on 5.6 yards per carry all return in a group led by senior Kennedy McKoy.
Brown brought his coordinators with him to Morgantown, and I really like Vic Koenning at DC, Koenning put together some awesome defenses with Sun Belt talent the past few years so I’m excited for what he does here.
Just six starters are back on defense but there are some pieces to play with. NB Jovanni Stewart had four sacks and 6.5 TFL, while corners Keith Washington and Josh Norwood combined for 20 PBUs and three picks.
The run defense was a big problem last year, and while they do add a ‘Bama transfer, VanDarius Cowan, I am a little worried about the front six and think this defense could struggle despite the rock-solid secondary.
West Virginia is going to take a step back this year as one of the least experienced teams in the country, but I think a bowl run is still very much a possibility if the Mountaineers can get the QB situation figured out quickly.
|at kansas state
Average Projected Record: 5.8 wins, 6.2 losses (4.0 wins, 5.0 losses)