2009 West Virginia Mountaineers Football Preview
2008 Record: (9-4, 5-2)
2008 Bowl: Meineke Car Care Bowl vs. North Carolina (W 31-30)
Coach: Bill Stewart (9-4 at West Virginia, 17-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeff Mullen
Defensive Coordinator: Jeff Casteel
Other Key Returnees: DE Scooter Berry, OT Selvish Capers, S Sidney Glover, C Eric Jobe, TE Will Johnson, LB Anthony Leonard, DT Chris Neild, CB Robert Sands, WR Braldey Starks, TE Tyler Urban, LB Reed Williams
Key Losses: S Quinton Andrews, G Jake Figner, G Greg Isdander, LB Mortty Ivy, WR Dorrell Jalloh, CB Ellis Lankster, K/P Pat McAfee, DT Doug Slavonic, OT Ryan Stanchek, QB Pat White
Many were skeptical of the hiring of Coach Bill Stewart following the 2007 season, but he managed to do a decent job in 2008 and things are looking pretty good for the future as well. West Virginia should be winning the Big East every year, so the 2008 campaign was certainly a little disappointing, but it could happen this year if Pat White can be replaced.
West Virginia's Strengths:
The defense returns eight starters to a unit that ranked 11 th in the nation in scoring defense. The team only gave up 17 points per game and it could be even better this year. Most of the defense was pretty young last year too. Defensive lineman Scooter Berry was just a sophomore and had a great year, linebacker Anthony Leonard will be a team leader in another year and cornerback Brandon Hogan keeps getting better with every game. Those youngsters will only be more effective this year, but for now this team belongs to linebacker J.T. Thomas. The junior linebacker does a great job of getting into the backfield and he will help out the front line by pressuring the quarterback. Linebacker Reed Williams should also return after missing all of 2008 with a shoulder injury. That makes the defense that much stronger and scoring on the Mountaineers will never be easy.
West Virginia's Weaknesses:
It is impossible to understate what Pat White did for the West Virginia program. During his senior campaign, White threw for 1,842 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushed for another 974 yards and eight trips to the end zone. His absence will sorely be missed and the team will not look the same without him. Quarterback Jarrett Brown is the new man and the senior should be a decent replacement. With wide receiver Alric Arnett back as the deep threat and Jock Sanders available out of the backfield, Brown has plenty of receiving options. Noel Devine is not a bad pass catcher either, but of course he will do most of his damage on the ground. Devine rushed for 1,289 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore and he will have to carry the load while the passing attack readjusts to life without White.
The Bottom Line for the Mountaineers:
The biggest problem on offense is the absence of the entire offensive line. Life without guard Greg Isdaner and tackle Ryan Stanchek will not be easy. Center Eric Jobe is the most experienced player on the line and he will have to step up immediately and become a leader. If the line cannot give Brown any time to operate, the Mountaineers offense will suffer. Even so, the defense is good enough to earn West Virginia a Big East championship and a trip to the BCS.
By Joel Welser
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