1. Who's our Quarterback?
It really doesn't get any bigger than this. There's no position on the field that can accentuate your strengths and hide your weaknesses like a solid quarterback. And at this stage of the spring practice season, we have not a clue who will be under center to start the season. Clint Trickett is out for the spring recovering from surgery. Skyler Howard hasn't completed a month of formal training in Holgorsen's offense yet. Paul Millard, god bless him, doesn't seem like he will be the answer. And William Crest hasn't stepped foot in Morgantown yet.
If there was ever a time to cross your fingers, this would be it. I have faith that Trickett will be better this year than last. It seems like he was only really healthy for part of the Oklahoma State game last year. And after that, he just gutted it out. Missing spring practice doesn't help, though. All indications are that Howard is putting in the extra time in the film room. But to this point, he hasn't fully grasped the offense and what Holgorsen wants from him.True freshman have come in and set the world on fire before. But I don't think it's fair to place too much hope in Crest just yet.
2. Is the Offensive Line improved?
I expect this group to improve in their second year under offensive line coach Ron Crook. Outside of quarterback, the skill positions look to be loaded this year. The line won't have to be great for the team to be successful. They just need to be good and minimize their mistakes. If there's no improvement in this unit, though, there's no chance for this to be a successful season.
3. Is Tony Gibson the right man for the job?
The forth defensive coordinator in four years for the Mountaineers has some advantages the others didn't. He has depth at every position and a pretty good level of talent on the whole. He also has three former defensive coordinators on his staff. So calling defenses and scheming opponents shouldn't be an issue for this staff. We aren't likely to see anything but basic formations from the defense in the spring game. But if his mantra is to keep things simple and get lined up in the right spots, penalties and getting lined up before the ball is snapped will be something to keep an eye on this Saturday.Hopefully the offense will test them with some hurry up.
4. Depth at running back
We have it. But who's going to be the man? It's hard to imagine that all five will be rotated into the lineup regularly. Smallwood getting some time at slot is a pretty good indicator that he isn't going to be the man. But that you could see a lot of him motioning out of the backfield into the slot. Rushel Shell, Dreamius Smith, Dustin Garrison, and Andrew Buie will be left to fight for their spot. I expect all four to get touches in the spring game. Hopefully at least one will show us that they excell when the lights come on.
5. Can we get back to Mountaineer defense?
The biggest challenge for Gibson and his staff is going to be making their opponents one dimensional. It's something that our defense has been good at for as long as I can remember. Morgantown weather isn't conducive to passing the ball as the season goes on. Really, the same is true for most Big 12 cities. So being good against the run is going to be a must. It would be nice if we could be good against the pass as well. But if the last two years has shown us anything, it's that you can't just base your defense around creating turnovers. You have to start with something more fundamental and work your way out.
What questions do you have going into the spring game?