2008 West Virginia Mountaineers Football Preview
2007 WVU Record: (11-2, 5-2 Big East)
2007 Bowl: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma (W 48-28)
WVU Head Coach: Bill Stewart (1 st year at West Virginia, 8-25 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeff Mullen
Defensive Coordinator: Jeff Casteel
Returning Leaders for WVU:
Other Key Returnees: DT Scooter Berry, C Mike Dent, RB Noel Devine, G Jake Figner, WR Tito Gonzales, G Greg Isdaner, K/P Pat McAfee, OT Ryan Stanchek
Key Losses: DE Johnny Dingle, DE Keilen Dykes, CB Antonio Lewis, LB Marc Magro, S Ryan Mundy, WR Darius Reynaud, CB Vaughn Rivers, FB Owen Schmitt, RB Steve Slaton, S Eric Wicks
After beating Oklahoma handily in the Fiesta Bowl, West Virginia interim coach Bill Stewart took the interim tag off of his moniker. Former Coach Rich Rodriguez left for the Michigan job and it was his work that has catapulted WVU into the national spotlight. Besides replacing a majority of their starting lineup, keeping the program’s success going through the regime change is the main goal this season.
More 2008 Big East football previews:
West Virginia's Strengths:
Quarterback Patrick White returns after throwing for 1,724 yards and rushing for another 1,335 on the ground. White, now a senior, is one of the most dangerous dual-threat signal callers in the nation and that versatility has done well for the Mountaineers over the last few seasons. The offense will be a little different without running back Steve Slaton and fullback Owen Schmitt, but Noel Devine is ready to at least take over some of what Slaton produced. What will make the offense dominating is the offensive line. Tackle Ryan Stanchek and guard Greg Isdaner are all-conference quality players and in all nine offensive linemen have started at least one game during their careers.
West Virginia's Weaknesses:
The 2007 WVU defense was good in spurts and dominating the rest of the time. However, with only four starters returning, there is a lot of rebuilding to do in Morgantown. Up front, Scooter Berry is the lone returning starter in West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defense. The freshman All-American had a solid debut season, but he will need to anchor a young and inexperienced line. Reed Williams and Mortty Ivy return to man a couple of the linebacker spots. And with J.T. Thomas, Pat Lazear and Anthony Leonard, the linebackers will be the strength of the defense. Safety Quinton Andrews has been inconsistent over the last two years, but as the only returning starter in the secondary he is expected to grow up quickly and be the leader of the group.
The Bottom Line for WVU:
The team will look the same on the field under Coach Stewart, but there is the lingering doubt among many onlookers that the results may be different. Even without Slaton the offense will still be dangerous, but all the holes in the defense need to be addressed, most notably on the line. WVU averaged three sacks per game last year and it will be very important to pressure the opposing quarterback if the Mountaineers want to find their way to another BCS Bowl.
2007 West Virginia Mountaineers Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 297.23 (3rd in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 159.00 (114, 8)
Total Offense: 456.23 (15, 2)
Scoring Offense: 39.62 (9, 1)
Rushing Defense: 112.92 (18, 1)
Pass Defense: 188.77 (14, 3)
Total Defense: 301.69 (7, 2)
Scoring Defense: 18.08 (8, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (9, 3)
Sacks: 3.00 (15, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (5, 2)
By Joel Welser
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