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West Virginia Football 2014: No Looking Back

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The last two years have not been what WVU football fans were expecting. Ever since the Mountaineers made the switch to the Big 12, their success has slowly dwindled.

The team opened the 2012 season with five straight wins, only to finish 7-6. Last season saw then plummet to a gruesome 4-8 record, as injuries plagued the team, causing inexperienced underclassmen to take on starting roles that they clearly weren’t ready for.

Changes were made to the coaching staff, with former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley joining the staff as associate head coach and defensive line coach, while Tony Gibson was promoted to defensive coordinator. Head coach Dana Holgorsen and his new staff intend to look forward.

Losing starting quarterback Clint Trickett to a season-ending shoulder injury was a major blow to WVU’s offense last year. Trickett was making his mark with seven touchdown passes and over 1,600 yards.

The senior is healthy and has been named the starting quarterback as the team enters camp this month. If his shoulder holds up, the entiWest Virginia Mountaineersre offense will pick up where it left off in early 2013. Coach Dana Holgorsen mentioned during Big 12 media day that Trickett’s shoulder is at “100 percent” and his arm looked “awesome.”

Senior running back Dreamius Smith will most likely be taking the starting reigns after the departure of Charles Sims. Replacing Sims, a 1,100-yard rusher last season, is no easy task, but Smith should be able to handle it. His ability to perform well as a back-up last year proves as much.

It’s clear the amount of offensive potential that the Mountaineers possess. Trickett has the ability to become a household name if his shoulder is as healthy as Holgorsen claims. His natural talent accompanied by the dual threat-receiving core of Kevin White and Mario Alford is dangerous.

Despite Sims’ absence this year, the team still has some good depth at the running back position. Smith will most likely start, and Pitt transfer Rushel Shell is now eligible to play and could generate solid yardage if used as a backup.

The offensive line must also be better this year for Trickett to truly shine. They can’t afford to lose him to another injury.

The Mountaineers defense is led by Nick Kwiatkoski of Bethel Park this year. His style of attacking the ball carrier and also being able to cover the middle of the field should produce another 80-plus-tackle season.

Though Kwiatkoski is an elite Big 12 talent, the rest of the defense is problematic. Last year’s defense didn’t really have its fair share of turnovers or even sacks. Both of those statistics were below average.

There’s a big hole in the safety position as wWest Virginia Nick Kwiatkoskiell. Last year’s starter, Darwin Cook, was second on the team in tackles (74) and first in interceptions (4.) It’s not set in stone who his replacement will be, or if anyone can be as effective as the ball-hawking Cook.

If WVU struggles again this year, it shouldn’t be because of their offense. While the defense likely trails the offense at this point, they should show improvement over last year. This season’s starters have the needed experience this time, and would be hard to replicate another 2013 season.

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