2007 WVU Offense Preview |
2007 WVU Defense Preview
2007 WVU Depth Chart
2006 CFN West Virginia Preview
Rodriguez has built a program in Morgantown that now expects to win
championships every year. Everyone’s trendy pick to challenge for a
national title in 2006 fell short, losing to Louisville and South
Florida in November, but it’s no longer going out on a limb to think
the Mountaineers can win it all.
Head coach: Rich Rodriguez
7th year: 50-24
Returning Lettermen: 43
Lettermen Lost: 27
Best WVU Players
2. RB Steve Slaton, Jr.
3. S Eric Wicks, Sr.
4. DT Keilen Dykes, Sr.
5. OT Ryan Stancheck, Jr.
6. WR Darius Reynaud, Sr.
7. FB Owen Schmitt, Sr.
8. S Quinton Andrews, Soph.
9. LB Reed Williams, Jr.
10. CB Antonio Lewis, Sr.
2006 Record: 11-2
2006 predicted wins
Eastern Wash W 52-3
at East Carolina
at Miss State
at Louisville W 44-34
at Pitt W 45-27
W 41-39 3OT
Georgia Tech W 38-35
From the moment Coach Rod spurned Alabama to remain at his alma mater,
West Virginia took yet another big step in the fight to remain an elite
of the elite program. With one decision to stay put, WVU suddenly
became a destination job and not quite a stepping-stone many thought
it’d be for Rodriguez.
He and his coaches adapt to their personnel and develop talent about as
well as any staff in the country, and now they’re getting more and more
of the top-shelf players to fit the system. Of course, it helps
immensely that QB Pat White and RB Steve Slaton will also be back for
their junior years to build around.
White and Slaton create a speed advantage that few, if any, defenses can
contain even when they know what’s coming. Even scarier than their past
performances is what’s lurking on the horizon now that White has shown
signs of improvement as a passer to go along with his game-breaking
running ability in the open field.
Helping the stars is all the returning experience with plenty of
starters and seasoned backups to both sides of the ball. The key will
be finding replacements for last year’s leading tackler, Boo McLee, and
a pair of graduating offensive linemen, most notably Rimington Award
winner Dan Mozes. The Mountaineers never have a shortage of run
blocking road graders, but losing offensive line coach Rick Trickett to
Florida State won’t make the transition any easier.
West Virginia has won 11 games in each of the last two seasons and
back-to-back bowl games for just the second time in school history.
That head of steam, coupled with a veteran roster should mean another
big run in the Big East title race. With the right breaks, the
Mountaineers will be shooting for even more.
What to watch for on offense … The spread offense conjures up
images of a dink and dunk passing game, but no one runs the ball or
keeps defenses on its heels better than WVU, which has the Big East’s
most potent ground game five years running. With White and Slaton in
the backfield, there’s no reason to get too cute and go away from what’s
been working. The offense is about getting to the playmakers as quickly
as possible, creating space, and then watching them run through the
gaping seams. Look for more play-action in 2007, allowing White to find
the team’s other blazer, WR Darius Reynaud.
What to watch for on defense … Nothing about West Virginia is
conventional, including the defense, which employs the 3-3-5 stack to
get its best athletes on the field for blitz packages while creating a
swarming effect in run defense. The Mountaineers, however, got scorched
through the air repeatedly down the stretch last year, a flaw that has
to be corrected or else they’ll be vulnerable again, even in a league
that’s short on prolific passers not named Brohm.
The team will
be far better if
defense can create pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The
pass rush was spotty last fall, leaving an already iffy secondary to
cover an extra second or two longer than it could handle. It’s
incumbent upon the unit to flush the pocket and create sacks or else the
Mountaineers will again rank among the worst in the country against the
pass. Neither White nor Slaton is that big or that durable, so keeping
both healthy will also be a year-long objective.
about surviving the early barrage. After warming up against a good
Western Michigan team, the Mountaineers have to survive a brutal stretch
of four road games in five weeks and five away games in the first eight
going to Marshall, Maryland, South Florida, Syracuse and Rutgers. If the
team is BCS title worthy, it shouldn't have a problem winning four of
the five, but it might be too much to ask to go unscathed in all five.
Things don't exactly ease up in November, but at least Louisville,
Connecticut and Pitt have to go to Morgantown.
Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Steve Slaton and QB Pat White. You can’t have one
without the other. Actually, as last year proved when injuries struck
each, you can, and there can still be plenty of rushing production.
Every team knows these two are going to run the ball. Every team goes
into games knowing that there’s no chance for a win without stopping
them. Even so, no one can do it. Each deserves more credit in the
Best Defensive Player: Senior NT Keilen Dykes. Not your typical
soft body in the middle of a defensive line, Dykes is a rock solid, 6-4
and 300-pound presence for the Mountaineer defense. While always stout
against the run, the reigning first team All-Big East tackle continues
to improve in his ability to penetrate and pressure opposing
Key player to a successful season: Senior CBs Larry Williams and
Vaughn Rivers. The Mountaineers struggled all season long in pass
defense with most of the stats coming when games were out of reach. Even
so, the secondary needs to tighten up, especially against Louisville, to
get into the national title discussion.
The season will be a
... the Mountaineers win the Big East title. Win the conference first,
then hope everything else falls into place. It’s not going to be easy
considering how loaded the league is, but if they can win the home games
against Louisville and Pitt, and can split with South Florid and Rutgers
while beating Maryland in the non-conference schedule, things should
fall into place for a second BCS slot in three years. The team is good
enough to get shoot for nothing less.
Oct. 27 at Rutgers. The
trip to South Florida in late September is also vital, but among the
biggest of the big boys, West Virginia has to come away from Piscataway
with a win or there’s no chance at a BCS slot if it loses the following
week against Louisville.
2006 Fun Stats:
- First quarter scoring: West Virginia 111 – Opponents 51
- West Virginia first downs rushing: 168 – passing 91
- Average yards per carry: West Virginia 6.7 – Opponents 3