West Virginia's first season in the Big 12 started hot and fizzled fast. The Mountaineers began 2012 with five straight wins, but they finished 2-6 down the stretch, including a humiliating 38-14 loss to former Big East conference mate Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Dana Holgorsen brings a 17-9 overall record into his third season as West Virginia's head coach.
The Mountaineers will be without one of their leaders—quarterback Geno Smith, who has graduated. They also will need to find replacements for their two all-conference receivers—Stedman Bailey (who skipped his senior year for the NFL) and Tavon Austin. Sooner fans should be glad to see these guys gone. Austin rushed for a record 344 yards and scored twice in a 50-49 loss to the Sooners in 2012. Smith completed 20 of 35 of his passes for 320 yards and 4 TDs. Bailey caught 13 of those tosses for 205 yards and all 4 TDs. J.D. Woods, another receiver, also had graduated, so the Mountaineers will be looking to replenish the receiving corps.
WVU will need to replace the interior of its o-line with only the tackles returning. However, the running game appears to be solid with the return of junior Andrew Buie (5-9, 188), who rushed for 851 yards and 7 TDs. Junior Dustin Garrison (5-8, 182) should see action as Buie’s backup. He rushed fro 207 yards and 2 TDs in 2012.
West Virginia – 2012 Statistics
|Offense (Nat'. Rank)||Defense (Nat'l. Rank)|
|39.5 (9)||Scoring (PPG)||38.1 (114)|
|171.8 (52)||Rushing (YPG)||159.9 (60)|
|330.1 (10)||Passing (YPG)||312.5 (118)|
|502.0 (10)||Total (YPG)||472.5 (108)|
The Mountain men return seven on a defense that employs a 3-4 alignment. Tackle Shaq Rowell (6-4, 208, Sr.) and end Will Clarke (6-7, 271, Sr.) come back to the front line. Rowell had 42 tackles last year with two for losses and a quarterback hurry. Clarke had 26 stops, 6.5 coming behind the line of scrimmage, including 1.5 sacks and 4 QB hurries.
One half of the linebacking corps returns in ’13: senior Doug Rigg (6-1, 241) and sophomore Isaiah Bruce (6-1, 225). Bruce was second on the team last year with 94 tackles. He also had 6.5 tackles for loss, picked off two passes and recovered two fumbles. Rigg had 58 tackles, 2.5 for losses, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Three-fourths of the WVU secondary will return this year. Karl Joseph (5-10, 197) led the team with 104 tackles as a freshman last year. He also had 7.5 tackles for loss, picked off a couple of passes and broke up six more. Joseph also forced three fumbles and recovered one. Safety Darwin Cook (5-11, 201, Sr.) and cornerback Brodrick Jenkins (5-10, 172, Soph.) combined for 108 tackles, 2 interceptions and 7 passes broken up.
The special teams could be hurting in 2012 with none of the incumbent kickers or return specialists back in 2013.