Big 12 field won’t back up to Mountaineers

Let’s bring on the Mountaineers!

And let’s have a dozen or more introduce themselves to us because they have hardly played at all.

[cleeng_content id="807284323" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Too many offensive starters from 2012 are gone. It seems too few players with much-needed experience are around to replace Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Geno Smith. Even the offensive line saw its senior starters go off to the wild blue yonder.

Even though the West Virginia defense had a substantial army of detractors, it had some playmakers to keep Baylor from scoring more than 63 points and Oklahoma and Kansas State from making off with half of Morgantown.

That mostly beleaguered defense had a number of seniors leaving open spaces along the line, at linebacker and all through the secondary.

West Virginia quarterback Paul Mallard is in a three-way fight for the job.

West Virginia quarterback Paul Mallard is in a three-way fight for the job.

Dana Holgorsen and his staff of assistants have sheaves of printouts and several depth charts they have made.

And they will need every sly and cunning bone in their bodies to contend with the Big 12 competition.

None of the other nine conference teams will back up to accommodate the Mountaineers. Nobody will look toward Holgorsen and say “Ol’ Dana’s got his work cut out. Let’s give him a break and only score 40 against his young team.”

The cuthroat conference will be full of teams and coaches that need to keep their rabid fans counting on a high finish in the national rankings and a comfy bowl date somewhere that doesn’t include the Heart of Dallas Bowl against a ConferenceUSA team.

No other Big 12 team will be going in without the offensive gamebreakers the Mountaineers are missing.

Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and possibly even a newly found flinty defense at Texas could be after high national rankings.

Kansas State still has Bill Snyder as its coach. His Wildcats saw almost as many irreplaceable players leave as did West Virginia, but nobody expects the purple plainsmen to fall way back this season.

Texas Tech, Iowa State and Baylor all have more playmakers than the sure-to-be revamped Mountaineers.

Texas Christian was just as unfamiliar with Big 12 surroundings as fellow first-year conference member West Virginia. The Horned Frogs didn’t go undefeated like they had when flogging teams in the Mountain West Conference.

Only Kansas and Coach Charlie Weis could be unable to better their lot.

Can Holgorsen coach his way to more conference wins than he coaxed last season? Without Smith, Austin and Bailey?

His laboratory work begins at quarterback.

The spring game he presided over didn’t quiet any nerves, didn’t solve any offensive riddles . . . and didn’t separate 6-foot-5, 224-pound Ford Childress from 6-foot-1, 221-pound Paul Millard.

Neither of those inexperienced quarterbacks accomplished much in the spring game. Neither left an impression he was a quality passer. And neither appeared to be able to run away from trouble if his protection crumbled.

Holgorsen didn’t give either Childress or Millard his blessing.

In early May, a third quarterback entered the arena.

Clint Trickett, son of former WVU offensive line coach Rick Trickett, transferred from Florida State. He had played only sparingly in 2012, stuck behind E.J. Manuel.

Trickett threw 34 passes last season and he completed 22 of them for 272 yards. The year before he started against Clemson (remember the Tigers in WVU’s 70-33 win in a bowl game to complete that season?) and he threw for 336 yards in a loss.

Since he graduated in the spring at Florida State, Trickett is immediately eligible. And he has two more years of eligibility.

And while the Mountaineers list players like K.J. Myers, Devonte Mathis, Connor Arlia, Cody Clay, Marquis Lucas and Mark Glowinski at the top of the depth chart, it will be the continuing uncertainty at quarterback that holds most people’s attention.

If none of the three mostly untried candidates can work a little magic, then where will any other fireworks come from against Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas?

The quarterbacks in Holgorsen’s offense must be reliable and must be playmakers. If the Mountaineers have a thrower who goes 20-for-35 for 285 yards and two touchdowns, eight of the Big 12 teams won’t be impressed.

West Virginia will follow the lead of its quarterbacks.

One of the three must play well. Or the games against William & Mary, Georgia State and Maryland won’t be enough to brighten the picture when comparing those days against the ones seen in the Big 12.[/cleeng_content]

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