Just three years ago, the West Virginia Mountaineers went 10-3 and finished their tenth consecutive winning season. For seven straight years, they won at least nine games.
Since joining the Big 12, the Mountaineers have done nothing but disappoint. In 2012 they went 7-6 with a 4-5 conference record. Instead of bouncing back in 2013, they kept going in the wrong direction finishing 4-8 overall and just 2-7 in the conference.
In their third season in the Big 12, and with head coach Dana Holgersen on the hottest of seats, can the Mountaineers bounce back? On Tuesday, it was announced that senior Clint Trickett would open the season as the starter at quarterback.
Last season, Clint Trickett played in eight games and threw for 1,605 yards with 7 TD versus 7 INT and completed just 52.8% of his passes. With one year under his belt, the Mountaineers should see improvement but will it be enough?
One of the big issues for the Mountaineers has been their defense. They gave up a league worst 38.1 ppg in 2012 and gave up 33.3 in 2013. The Mountaineers return seven starters on defense and according to Phil Steele, 73.24% of their tackles.
Tony Gibson was promoted this off-season to defensive coordinator from defensive backs coach and interestingly enough has ties to former Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez. Gibson will be the fourth coach to hold this position in the last four years but don’t look for this defense to be fundamentally different. The Mountaineers are banking on continuity to try and help get the defense back on track.
Without the help of the defense, this will be another down year for the Mountaineers. Naming Trickett as the starting quarterback is important, especially before fall camp which will help Trickett put his stamp on the team, but all eyes will be on Gibson and the Mountaineers defense. If they don’t improve, the Mountaineers don’t have a chance.