Will Holgorsen’s offense continue to blossom?

Dana Holgorsen was able to maintain his reputation as an offensive mind who can create lots of points on most football weekends.

[cleeng_content id="281404305" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Holgorsen had his reputation as able to win games at an astonishing rate smudged some by last year’s 7-6 overall record.

And nobody wanted to go around that dark bend where West Virginia’s defense was flailing away, trying to keep any opponent from scoring over 45 points.

WVU will rely on Andrew Buie (shown here against Baylor) and its other running backs to offset the inexperience of whomever wins the team’s quarterback battle.

WVU will rely on Andrew Buie (shown here against Baylor) and its other running backs to offset the inexperience of whomever wins the team’s quarterback battle.

Holgorsen has advocates who believe his fast-paced offense with its even-split of the passing-rushing plays can succeed no matter the personnel using it. Those believers will be given the proof one way or the other this season when the Mountaineers come out with so many newly minted starters that fans will be scanning their programs to find out who they are.

There are now three possibilities at quarterback, and the most experienced tosser last played at Florida State (Clint Trickett). Paul Millard and Ford Childress are the other two candidates.

There are four possibilities at running back. Two of them are familiar in Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison. Two of them are Houston transfer Charles Sims and junior college transfer Dreamius Smith. All four of the runners have been able pass receivers and will need to be again if the Mountaineers are going to score the way they have before.

Ivan McCartney left the team in 2012. He’s back to try to make the completely revamped corps of receivers at least serviceable.

Another junior college transfer, Kevin White (6-foot-3, 211), joins the new faces. Daikiel Shorts (6-foot-0, 201) is going to be new to college football because he was a high school player last year.

Will West Virginia attempt to stay ahead of the baying pack of Big 12 teams with more emphasis on its running game? There are only two full-time starters returning to the offensive line in Quinton Spain and Curtis Feigt.

Pat Eger is experienced and Nick Kinder is versatile, but redshirt freshman Tyler Orlosky, sophomore Marquis Lewis and junior Mark Glowinski are weighted with responsibilities they have never seen.

With the sieve-like defense always under the microscope few people mention West Virginia’s special teams. Those four units have not been effective in the immediate past.

West Virginia had the worst coverage units in the 10-team conference. And now it will have a first-year punter and a first-year placekicker to add to the murky mix.

Last season’s return men, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, were nearly always giving the Mountaineers generous yardage with their abilities. Both of them are now in the NFL.

Incompetent special teams are hard to overcome. When your defense is still as suspect as Al Capone was when a Chicago mobster turned up full of lead and his fedora askew while getting an innocent haircut, then a ramshackle group of special teams is going to cause heart palpitations.

The 13 teams the Mountaineers played last season combined to pass for over 4,000 yards. It was mostly the Big 12 schools that passed the Mountaineers crazy.

Without a consistent pass rush — and at times without any pressure at all — the Mountaineers will have to work to remove the stench associated with their 2012 defense.

Brodrick Jenkins, Darwin Cook and Karl Joseph have all started at least 10 games. More help from the junior college ranks comes from lineman d’Vante Henry, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound outside rushman.

Lineman Korey Harris has been dismissed from the team. Harris was arrested last week and had already been suspended from the team for the spring semester.

The snow and unsure footing in December’s Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium is still a vivid memory to many. Syracuse simply owned the Mountaineers during that wintry mess.

Too many Big 12 teams owned West Virginia’s defense last season.

Will any improvement be coming? Will a new set of offensive starters be able to detonate scoreboards like Geno Smith and company did in 2012?

Question marks are everywhere. Answers might not be the ones the blue and gold and gray and camouflage-wearing Mountaineer fans want to hear.[/cleeng_content]

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