We hear this comparison a lot in college sports. The elite programs obviously trend towards the latter. It seems in recent years that Alabama no matter how much talent they lose the year before seem to only get better athletes the following year. USC constantly loses players to the NFL and every year there is a new batch of household names come early September that don the Trojan uniform. And what the heck does Urban Meyer do differently where he’s able to go from Bowling Green to Utah to Florida to Ohio State and continue to reload his teams without missing a beat.
The point of this article is not to compare West Virginia football to Alabama or USC or Ohio State. It wouldn’t be fair to. With the number of in-state talent we get versus these schools and the population of West Virginia compared to the others, I think it’s fantastic where we stand as a football program and we are only getting stronger.
Last year we had some highs and we took a lot of bumps. While our overall record was not as good as we had hoped at 7-6, there was still no denying we had a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
We had a very, very special skill players in a 1. Mr. Tavon Austin (1st round pick). We had a touchdown machine in Stedman Bailey (3rd round pick) and a quarterback who looked spectacular in some games, was always forced to outscore teams, and who at this point of his career is at least been giving a shot to compete as an NFL QB (2nd round). Throw in three offensive linemen (Braun, Jenkins, Madsen), our two power running backs (Alston and Clarke), our 3rd Option receiver (Woods) and our punter/kickers (Bitancurt, Smith) all lost to graduation or early departure to the NFL. That is a lot of offensive production that we lost from this great class of seniors. That is a lot of touchdowns/points scored from all of the above mentioned that need to be accounted for.
Most schools would take a big hit offensively if they lost all of this talent. Most schools would immediately say it will be a rebuilding year on offense. Most schools would look to 2014 for offensive production. Most schools are not WVU football lead by head Coach Dana Holgorsen.
If I was an offensive player on this years team and I saw the list above of all the players gone, there would only be 1 word that was constantly on my mind…"opportunity." Opportunity to become the next great Mountaineer. It’s not an easy challenge, but I guarantee you it’s worth it.
You want stats: Dana Holgorsen has a string of 11 straight years with a 4,000-yard passer. That’s incredible to me. It’s obvious his system can produce yards. We have talent at the QB position; it just comes down to preparation and execution. We have the deepest backfield Dana has to work with since he’s been here. We have a nice combination of guys with speed, size, and agility that we can throw out given the situation. While we may not have a Tavon Austin on this roster we do have skilled receivers who all have the opportunity for a break out year in Dana’s offense. We lost a lot on the line, but we do have a group of young hungry offensive linemen who are ready to contribute.
WVU has produced some great offensive talent in the past few years. Who’s next? Who will be the next Steve Slaton that is currently sitting well below the depth chart knowing that he can overcome and shine? Who will be the next Stedman Bailey that will have a breakout year in yards and touchdowns? And who will be the next WVU great that sits under center for the Gold and Blue?
Dana Holgorsen can churn out some pretty eye popping numbers for his offense. But there is only one number I am concerned about while he is the head coach at WVU and that is wins. Last year he got seven. I know this team is capable of doing better, even with all the talent we lost on offense.
To Rebuild or Reload?? Is that even a question? Not if you're a Mountaineer. Our mascot carries a gun for pete's sake. Come August 31st he better bring a lot of ammunition to Mountaineer Field because our rifle and our offense will be reloaded…I can’t wait.