It's almost 11:00am EST and I can barely sit still. The season opener for WVU is almost upon us, and for the first time in several years, I have no idea what type of team to expect. Not since Pat White graduated and left us wondering how Jarrett Brown would fill his shoes have I felt this type of anticipation. And, I like it.
Last year brought extremely high expectations. Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Geno Smith, and numerous other experienced weapons on offense. Would we get to THE game, the National Championship? Could we go undefeated? For a while, it looked like we could. Then Texas Tech happened. The second half of the season was painful to watch as our defense crumbled and the offense struggled to find the rhythm that had destroyed opponents a few short weeks earlier. Sure, we were treated to some outstanding performances, like Tavon Austin's incredible outing versus Oklahoma.
Stedman Bailey's overall season
Geno Smith's arm (most of the time) raining down TD after TD
But our defense consistently left fans scratching their heads. What happened? Could it be fixed? Is it players, coaches, scheme? Question after question, all leading nowhere.
This season is arguably one of the largest transition years WVU has had since Rich Rodriguez took the reigns from Don Nehlen in 2001. We lost the majority of our offense, have no defined starter at QB, several new, YOUNG faces on defense, and more questions than a final examination. However, with the unknown, comes something new: Lowered expectations. No one is expecting a National Championship. Heck, no one is even predicting a bowl game. We've been all but written off by everyone. Everyone, except our players. Everyone, except our fans (well, some of them at least).
Remember the last time(s) we were written off? Ask Georgia or Oklahoma how the like facing teams that "don't belong on the big stage." How did that work out? WVU has always thrived as an underdog hungry to prove the so-called "experts" wrong. Can we do it again? Will we? For the first time in a long time, I have no idea what to expect from this team. I also find myself extremely excited to find out who will rise to the occasion this year and be our next Pat White, Owen Schmitt, Tavon Austin or Stedman Bailey.
As I finish writing this, it's now less than an hour to game time, and my stomach is starting to churn. It's only William and Mary, but this is the first game of an unknown season. I believe in our coaches. I believe in our players. I believe in the Mountaineers.