Publish date:

10 West Virginia

Author:

OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

WILL GRIER is a little bit more of a prototype NFL quarterback than Baker Mayfield or Johnny Manziel, but his mobility in the pocket makes him so dangerous. He negotiates the pocket so well and keeps his eyes downfield. His release is ridiculous. You talk about freakish arm talent, he's got it.... People don't realize how good their O-line is. Right tackle Colton McKivitz, you can't get around. He blocked our best pass rusher last year and shut him down. Left tackle Yodny Cajuste is an NFL guy.... They've got a stable of wideouts. David Sills is terrific, especially considering he had never really played wide receiver until last year. You think you're not going to have much problem with him so you focus on the other guys, and he destroys you.... They've always run the ball well under Dana Holgorsen. It'll be interesting to see if they use the tight end more, which they've said they would. They've got one who could be a weapon in Trevon Wesco and a transfer from Miami, Jovani Haskins.... They should be better on defense; they were really young last year. Tony Gibson plays that 3-3-5, and it's a good scheme for the pass-heavy Big 12. But when you don't have much experience, it can get ugly.

BY THE NUMBERS

31.5

Points allowed by the Mountaineers, which ranked 90th in the nation.

9

Times Will Grier threw for more than 300 yards, second most last season, behind Mason Rudolph.

5-YEAR TREND

WINS

An innovative coach, one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and an improved defense add up to a program ready to take a big step forward.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

15

12

9

6

3

7-6

8-5

10-3

7-6

9-3

YEAR

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018*

X-FACTOR

In any conference, defenses that can't hold the line of scrimmage get gashed by the run. In the Big 12 especially, ones that can't pressure get torched by air. Combine both shortcomings and you have the 2017 West Virginia defense, which allowed 6.1 yards a play (98th in the nation). WVU must be better up front—and they will be. After transferring from East Mississippi Community College, end EZEKIEL ROSE led the team in sacks, though it took him most of the season to break through. In May, Jabril Robinson came to Morgantown because of a logjam at Clemson, and five-star recruit Kenny Bigelow Jr. arrived from USC. The Mountaineers' D could surprise.

2018 SCHEDULE

SEPT. 1

TENNESSEE (AT CHARLOTTE)

SEPT. 8

YOUNGSTOWN STATE

SEPT. 15

@ N.C. STATE [KEY MATCHUP]

SEPT. 22

KANSAS STATE

SEPT. 29

@ TEXAS TECH

OCT. 6

KANSAS

OCT. 13

@ IOWA STATE

OCT. 25

BAYLOR

NOV. 3

@ TEXAS

NOV. 10

TCU (14) [KEY MATCHUP][SI RANKINGS]

NOV. 17

@ OKLAHOMA STATE

FRI., NOV. 23

OKLAHOMA (5) [BIGGEST GAME][SI RANKINGS]

KEY MATCHUP

BIGGEST GAME

SI RANKINGS