MKirchner12: I will get you drinks if we are not 6-6. I just think we are not going to suck. I don't think we're going to be great. I just think we're not going to suck.
SmithFire13: I think our record will be worse than it was last year.
WVUIE97: I think it will be similar if not a game better.
MKirchner12: That's what I think as well.
SmithFire13: Well, that means that we obviously have different feelings on this... which is good. That's how this kind of thing works.
SmithFire13: My major problems are that we don't know who our quarterback is.... Dana might know but....
WVUIE97: You sound like a national sportswriter. With your generalization of what we lost and what we gained, we're just going to suck.
SmithFire13: That's a fair point. Is that necessarily a bad thing? How else is there to look at it?
MKirchner12: I look at his track record and point at the fact that the offense has produced everywhere he's been. In every program he's been involved in, he's had people come out of nowhere to be great offensive weapons.
WVUIE97: Personally, I think we are in better shape without having a Geno. Look at Case Keenum. Where was he and Graham Harrell before Holgorsen?
MKirchner12: He can develop quarterbacks. Plus, I feel like a portion of our problems on offense last year were our role players waiting around for Tavon or Stedman to make a play. If they are actually on the spot where they need to produce more, they very well might. I can't argue the fact that we used many weapons outside of those three last year outside of when Shawne Alston was healthy.
SmithFire13: That includes the Andrew Buie production against Texas. That being said, I'm not saying we don't have weapons on offense. I know we have Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison, and including my boy Dreamius Smith.
WVUIE97: Plus Ivan McCartney...
MKirchner12: We might have a loaded backfield with those guys plus possible transfer with Charles Simms. For those who don't know, he's transferring from Houston and is a graduate so he would be immediate eligible. The staff at Houston, for some reason, wants to go away from the Air Raid into a more traditional offense. That doesn't make sense to me at all for that school, but whatever. He originally wanted to stay close to home in Texas and then Houston dropped their transfer restriction bomb on them including anyone on their schedule, anyone in their conference, and then just randomly any Texas school. After that, he's reportedly down to Cal and us who are both going to be Air Raid schools with Cal moving to it this year.
SmithFire13: We aren't going to be hurting for weapons on offense even if he goes to Cal. That being said, the offensive line is not there.
MKirchner12: That definitely could be the unraveling point of our offense. It could end up with our freshmen being the most talented part of our line.
SmithFire13: It absolutely could be, but that's never a good question mark. It almost never works out when it is a question mark.
WVUIE97: I will say that when he was here last month, Holgorsen made a point to bring up the offensive line and was strangely cocky about it.
MKirchner12: I trust the coaching. I like the fact we got the guy from Stanford. Whether it's one of the JUCOs or Jordan Thompson or Dante Campbell or Devonte Mathis or whoever, playmakers will emerge on offense. That being said, it almost doesn't matter who wins the quarterback battle either because the system is going to give them numbers naturally as long as they get time.... Which is the thing. Honestly, I think the defense is going to be passable, too. I don't think they're going to be great, obviously, but as long as the pass rush gets better.
WVUIE97: I have a strange confidence in Coach Patterson. I don't know what it is.
SmithFire13: You're attracted to him.
WVUIE97: Well, we did have dinner together and everything.
MKirchner12: We will be 2-1 with Maryland being the big litmus test in Baltimore which doesn't say much because Maryland is always a litmus test for us and the fact they're going to be better this year.
SmithFire13: Yes, and plus it will be another chance for Stefon Diggs to rack up a thousand yards.
MKirchner12: That will be using getting our own Tavon medicine for the next two years.
WVUIE97: I think we have a chance in Norman.
MKirchner12: Jeff Hostetler is going to enter Rick Trickett's body...
WVUIE97: Listening to the coaches talk a month ago, I feel a lot better than going into that dinner.
SmithFire13: Isn't that their job?
WVUIE97: Well, yeah.
SmithFire13: You went into the spin zone. That's what those dinners are supposed to do.
WVUIE97: Didn't feel that way after the basketball one.
SmithFire13: Well, that's just Huggs.
MKirchner12: I honestly trust Huggs more when he says we're going to suck rather than when he says we're going to be good. He thought we were going to be great this year and we were supposed to run on people.... Whoops.
MKirchner12: Back on topic, William and Mary 1-0, Oklahoma 1-1, Georgia State 2-1.... I'll go 3-1 on Maryland. Oklahoma State as a home game is a toss-up. We can win that game. We stuck around last year in our downturn at their place. If we didn't make every possible game error, every special teams error...
SmithFire13: But they had their back-up, right? Wouldn't he be better this year now that Lunt is transferring?
MKirchner12: Yeah, Chelf was in and.... Eh 3-2. Baylor 3-3. Texas Tech is a game I feel like we can win at home. I would hope WVU would be pissed about last year. I don't even know if I buy into (Texas Tech's coach) Kingsbury yet. I feel like we win that game and go 4-3.
SmithFire13: What about Daniel Sams with K-State?
MKirchner12: He's competing with some JUCO kid and, if they stay with Sams, they can run the same stuff that destroyed us last year with Klein. Probably wouldn't be as much as running right at you... probably more shifty Pat White stuff. We will probably end up 4-4 because it's on the road. I believe TCU is going to win the league and still have Pachall so 4-5. We never lose to Texas so 5-5. Beat Kansas and Iowa State so there's our 7-5. I find that's a reasonable 7-5 prediction with the toss-ups being Oklahoma State and Baylor.
SmithFire13: I think Baylor beats the hell out of us. They have this new quarterback Bryce Petty along with running backs Seastunk who calls himself a Heisman winner and Glasco Martin is also in the backfield. Along with that, Jay Lee is a sophomore who is getting super hype.
MKirchner12: It'll end up being a shootout again.
SmithFire13: I don't think we can put up that many points on offense like last year. For some reason, I feel like we don't put up more than 31 other than William and Mary and Georgia State.
I caused a fight....
WVUIE97: How long have you been watching this offense?
SmithFire13: I just don't see our quarterbacks having the talent putting up that kind of production with the line we have.
MKirchner12: Clint Trickett and Case Keenum are almost the exact same quarterback.
SmithFire13: It's easier to see when you have known commodities with Tavon and Stedman.
MKirchner12: Everywhere Holgorsen has been, he has put up an offense that scores with unknown commodities. Blackmon was a mid-to-low three star that blew up in Holgorsen's offense. Maybe we are going to be the outlier this year...
WVUIE97: Everywhere this offense has gone has scored. Everywhere it has gone.
SmithFire13: Washington State.
WVUIE97: Did you notice what's missing at Washington State?
MKirchner12: Honestly, Holgorsen's offense is different than Leach's. It's subtle. Leach never runs. Ever. I think we're going to have a strong running game and it might outweigh our passing offense or at least the backs will outgain our receivers. Plus, we aren't nearly as void in talent as Wazzu was last year.
Back on Track
SmithFire13: I think we might lose to Kansas. They're getting a great quarterback from BYU....
MKirchner12: Don't care: Charlie Weis. Another point: David Ash is the best quarterback in the Big XII.
SmithFire13: No way... Pachall.
MKirchner12: After a year off, I want to see him prove it.
SmithFire13: I think we go 6-6 with wins against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas, and Kansas. We lose on the road to TCU, KState, Oklahoma, and Baylor. I'm picking wins for home games except Iowa State.
MKirchner12: I can see that. It's pretty much as mine except you're going one of the toss-ups. The Maryland game?
SmithFire13: I have us winning it. We start up 3-3 with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Baylor losses.
MKirchner12: And you have ISU beating us.
MKirchner12: 6-6 isn't an awful season with where we are. If we go 6-6 and win a bowl game...
SmithFire13: Here's the big question: Does Dana survive if we don't make a bowl game?
MKirchner12: Yes. I think Luck is smart enough to not make a knee jerk reaction based on his first losing season.
SmithFire13: If we lose seven games...
MKirchner12: No. We are recruiting really well with a strong staff. We are adjusting in ways we didn't even know needed adjusting. Last year, we were really hurting in depth and, now, this staff is recruiting that depth.
SmithFire13: Listen, I am not calling for his head. I'm saying that there WILL be people calling for his head with a seven loss season.
MKirchner12: Oliver Luck is smarter than those people, though.
SmithFire13: He does have a law degree from the University of Texas.
SmithFire13: TEXAS FIGHT
MKirchner12: Now, if we completely blow out the tires and go 2-10...
SmithFire13: So what's the lowest he can survive? I think we have to win five games for a secure return. If we go any lower, it becomes a conversation.
WVUIE97: It's only his third year and you at least have to give him four to five years.
SmithFire13: What I'm asking is the LOWEST he can do and be safe.
MKirchner12: I think the tires completely have to blow off at 3-9 for it to come up.
SmithFire13: So the bar is four games?
MKirchner12: Yeah. You have to give him a chance to bring in his recruits into his system.
SmithFire13: Okay, so we pretty much agree with a 6-6, 7-5 season. Let's just say we drop the toss-up Maryland game and we are 5-7 with the rest of my 6-6 season happening. It is absolutely in the realm of reality that we lose to Maryland in an electric probably 50/50 crowd in Baltimore. With that, we lose the Oklahoma State game and we start off 2-3 and everything stays with going 4-8. That's a lot of losses in a row.
MKirchner12: You can't do a knee jerk fire like that after he's built up a staff that is recruiting their asses off right now.
WVUIE97: There's too much instant hire/fire right now in the sports world.
MKirchner12: I'm completely aware that our fan base will rush Luck's office for a fire but he won't do it.
WVUIE97: I don't believe the big boosters will put pressure on Luck to fire Holgorsen in that type of season with the program we are building.
MKirchner12: If we fire Dana Holgorsen going 5-7 or 4-8 in his third year as a head coach, which is even technically his second season as HC at his first HC job, who do we hire that's better?
SmithFire13: I'm not saying that. I'm arguing that you can conceive that the 5-7, 4-8 season is possible and there would be a lot of talks about him leaving.
MKirchner12: I'm aware there would be talks. I just don't think that Oliver would listen to that and be influenced by it.
WVUIE97: That same kind of talk happened with talks this year.
SmithFire13: Well, if Huggs has the same type of season this upcoming year.... Absolutely. See what I mean? We go from 7-6 last year... but we lose those toss-up games this year...
MKirchner12: I think we go 7-5 and my toss-up games that I think we can win are OSU and Baylor.
SmithFire13: I don't think we get close to Baylor. It will be fun to watch but
MKirchner12: We will have to score.
SmithFire13: I can see us losing to Baylor. I can see us losing ISU and.... I don't think we will... but it's possible we lose to Maryland especially after letting them back in the game two years in a row.
MKirchner12: Maryland will be a good team this year and it would be a good win.
SmithFire13: That's saying Maryland's QB doesn't get hit by a bus or rob a bank and get thrown in jail or some crazy curse happenings.
MKirchner12: That's Week 4 so they'll be down to their seventh string quarterback.
SmithFire13: They'll be down to their kicker.
WVUIE97: I still say we will sneak up and beat someone this year.
SmithFire13: William and Mary?
MKirchner12: I don't think it will happen, but I wouldn't be shocked. It would take a ridiculous effort but things happen when you're playing a conference team Week 2 before anyone has gelled.
SmithFire13: So you think we could go 8-4?
MKirchner12: I think we could. Possibly 9-3 if we win a toss-up game especially the fact we are flying under the radar. Absolutely no expectations are on this team to pressure them.
WVUIE97: The whole Big XII doesn't have them either. The offenses we will face this year are not nearly as potent as last year. They're going to be good, not as good as last year.
SmithFire13: But it evens out because neither is ours.
WVUIE97: I don't disagree with you.
MKirchner12: Our offense beside of Texas Tech and Kansas State wasn't what was losing us games last year. We dropped 34 against Oklahoma State, 38 against TCU, and 49 against OU. I understand you don't feel like we can rack up those kinds of points this year, but the track record says we will be able to score 35 points when we need to.
SmithFire13: Random: New kicker.
WVUIE97: Not necessarily a bad thing.
SmithFire13: True. I don't think we go 4-8. I just wanted to make the point that is indeed possible. With my sports mind the way it is right now (WVU football, basketball, Bills draft debacle, Penguins blowing it,) I can see people flipping out hard if we lose a good amount of games especially when half the fan base hates Holgorsen anyway. That being said, if it does happen, I don't know if Holgorsen survives the night.
WVUIE97: It would be worse if they did fire him.
MKirchner12: It would be a disastrous mistake unless the wheels fall off and there's a player mutiny and they put Patterson's head on a stick outside of
SmithFire13: Well it's not like player mutinies are unheard of around here...
WVUIE97: I feel like the team mindset is different than last year.
SmithFire13: We don't know what the team is this year. We can't judge the mindset if we don't even know who are going to be the main points.
MKirchner12: We know the mindset of last year's team and they totally bought into their own press. WVU athletics always do better when we have to earn the respect.
SmithFire13: We have certainly been best when we let down expectations. That's true for both points and I'm not completely sure how that continues to carry on over coach regimes and different sports and different athletes. That aside, that Maryland game is a huge litmus test.
WVUIE97: It historically is. It doesn't necessarily have to do with the result, it's just how well we play.
SmithFire13: And I think that stadium is going to be absolutely crazy.
WVUIE97: I don't.
SmithFire13: You don't think M&T Bank is going to be nuts for that game?
WVUIE97: We outdrew them in FedEx when they had a home conference game in Byrd Stadium.
SmithFire13: First off, I think it's different because this is the West Virginia game. We are they're only sort of rival in football. Secondly, there is something social about the WVU/UMD games because there are so many people that know each other between the two schools. There is a significant amount of people that come from Maryland to WVU so it always makes it a fun road trip down 68 for either away team.
WVUIE97: If it is packed, there will be mostly WVU fans.
SmithFire13: Oh, definitely. Maryland fans aren't going to be there by themselves. It might not be an even split, but the atmosphere will at least be fun. That being said, it will be one of our first true tests this season with stopping Diggs. We know he's coming. Maryland always knew WVU's big star going into this game and the Terps could never stop them whether it was Pat White, Steve Slaton, Noel Devine, or Tavon Austin. Now, we have that same medicine force fed to us in knowing Stefon Diggs is their guy. If WVU can't stop him going into that game solely preparing for him, it might be a long season.
WVUIE97: One thing I'll say about Diggs is that there is no guarantee that Maryland can get him the ball if they don't have a quarterback.
SmithFire13: Direct snap?
MKirchner12: One topic we haven't touched is defense.
SmithFire13: Do we know much about it?
MKirchner12: Well, we know that it is literally impossible for us to be worse. One point is that our rush defense wasn't too bad because 1) we were actually kind of decent at it and 2) no one needed to run.
SmithFire13: Another thing that might help is that we won't have to play the best QBs in the nation every single week.
MKirchner12: Last year, week in and week out that was awful. Even if they weren't first round NFL QBs, it seemed like everyone had third year guys who were able to read defenses and move the ball.
SmithFire13: Am I allowed to be pessimistic about this season after last season?
MKirchner12: You are absolutely allowed. The points you are making here are legitimate and we could totally go 5-7 or 4-8 and I wouldn't be shocked at all. I just don't think we will. Now, I don't think we're going to be world beaters and kill everyone. I just think we're going to be as good or even a bit better. The freshman backs last year? They were playing just as good as or even better than the seniors in the secondary. With that, if we could just get a little pressure on the quarterback it would help so much.
SmithFire13: Having the defensive backs play the ball and not face guard would be huge.
WVUIE97: That will change with the different philosophies we have this year.
SmithFire13: That's big because it always stood out when it seemed like the ball was in the air forever and we absolutely needed a turnover.... And no one would be looking at the ball.
MKirchner12: I know why people take line of scrimmage cushions, but we don't have the corners to give guys space. I feel like we will try to get into the faces of wide outs a little more and try to throw off some of the timing of these pass patterns.
SmithFire13: True. Let's get into that more in another text edition.
WVUIE97: You got it.