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2009 CFN West Virginia Mountaineer Preview
West Virginia QB Jarrett Brown
West Virginia has gotten to the point where 9-4 isn't good enough, but this year's team is good enough to get back to the BCS if Jarrett Brown can be an adequate fill-in for Pat White. Check out the CFN Preview for another strong West Virginia Mountaineer team.
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2009 WVU Offense Preview
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Head coach: Bill Stewart
2nd year: 9-4
4th year overall: 17-295
Off: 13, Def. 19, ST: 2
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best West Virginia Players
1. RB Noel Devine, Jr.
2. LB Reed Williams, Sr.
3. DT Scooter Berry, Jr.
J.T. Thomas, Jr.
5. WR Alric Arnett, Sr.
6. CB Brandon
7. QB Jarrett Brown, Sr.
8. SS Sidney Glover,
9. G Josh Jenkins, Soph.
10. NT Chris Neild, Jr.
2009 Record: 0-0
9/12 East Carolina
9/19 at Auburn
9/26 OPEN DATE
10/10 at Syracuse
10/30 at USF
11/13 at Cincinnati
11/21 OPEN DATE
12/5 at Rutgers
CFN Prediction: 10-2
2008 Record: 9-4
Villanova W 48-21
9/6 at East Carolina
9/13 OPEN DATE
9/18 at Colorado L
9/27 Marshall W 27-3
10/4 Rutgers W 24-17
10/11 Syracuse W 17-6
10/18 OPEN DATE
10/23 Auburn W 34-17
11/1 at Conn.W
11/8 Cincinnati L 26-23
11/15 OPEN DATE
11/22 at Louisville W
11/28 at Pitt L 19-15
12/6 South Florida
Meineke Car Care Bowl
12/27 No. Carolina W 31-30
Aw shucks. Gee wiz. It’s almost impossible to dislike
head coach Bill Stewart, one of the really good guys in the sport. He’ll
test the allegiance of Mountaineer fans, however, if he produces another
season without a BCS berth.
Best offensive player:
Junior RB Noel Devine. Over the last two years the Mountaineers have
lost Steve Slaton, Owen Schmitt, and Pat White, opening the door for
Devine to be the newest sparkplug of the offense. A 5-8, 175-pound
lightning bolt, he’s averaged just under seven yards a carry for his
career. If the West Virginia
blockers, both linemen and receivers, can get him into the open, he’s as
combustible as any player in the country.
West Virginia began last season as
the heavy favorite to win the Big East title, but lost four games for
the first time in four years and lost its grip on the conference crown.
In Pat White’s final season in Morgantown, a 9-4 mark and Meineke Bowl
appearance just didn’t cut it. And Stewart and his offensive staff,
namely Jeff Mullen, felt the brunt of the criticism in the first year in
a post-Rich Rodriguez world.
Although expectations are as modest
as they’ve been in a while, the Mountaineers will still enter this
season as one of a small handful of favorites to win the Big East
championship. Life after White surely doesn’t promise to be easy, but
the program has the luxury of welcoming back fifth-year QB Jarrett
Brown, electrifying RB Noel Devine, and top WR Alric Arnett. It’s a
start for an offense that was a microcosm for last year’s
disappointments. Jeff Casteel’s defense, on the other hand, has few
flaws and a bunch of players, who’ll be vying for all-star recognition.
The further the program moves away from the Rich Rod era, the darker
Stewart’s imprint becomes. This is his team, but that comes with a lot
responsibility, such as keeping the prosperity rolling after so much
success and after being heartbeat away from a national title shot in
2007. West Virginia fans have grown accustomed to championships and
marquee bowl games, and if Stewart can’t deliver them, he won’t be quite
as charming in 2010.
to watch for on offense: The adjustment of the offensive line. It
used to be that the Mountie linemen would be insulated by zone blocking
schemes that masked their modest size and athleticism. Not anymore. This
is a new era in the trenches in Morgantown, which requires the blockers
to be far more versatile and mobile. West Virginia has been recruiting
accordingly, but was a touch sporadic last fall, and still has some
wrinkles that need to be ironed out in the offseason.
What to watch for on defense:
Blitzes. Lots of blitzes. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel would like
to bring pressure from all angles as long as it doesn’t jeopardize a
pass defense that’ll be somewhat green at the corners. He certainly has
the requisite athletes at outside linebacker and safety to create havoc
and confuse offenses with a variety of different looks. J.T. Thomas, Pat
Lazear, Sidney Glover, and Robert Sands all cover a lot of ground, and
will be turned loose liberally.
The team will be far better if…
starting QB Jarrett Brown excels in Jeff Mullen’s offense. He does not
have to be Pat White, but he does have to good if West Virginia is going
to trade last year’s December bowl invite for a January game. Brown
certainly has the experience and the arm strength to be a good fit in an
offense that’s become increasingly reliant on the forward pass.
Succeeding a legend might be a bigger challenge than anything he does
with his arm and his legs.
It's an interesting non-conference schedule with home games
against East Carolina, Colorado, and the rivalry battle with Marshall
sure to get plenty of attention, while the road game at Auburn is
tougher on paper than it will be when the Mountaineers arrive. There are
four Big East road games, but they're nicely spread out with no killer
stretches of time without a home game. However, going to South Florida
and Cincinnati will be rough, while there's an off week before the
showdown against Pitt.
player: Senior LB Reed Williams. In many ways, he’s your
prototypical Mountaineer player, smart, hard-working, and very
productive. No, he doesn’t have next-level measurables, but he’s the
glue of the unit, chasing down anything that moves from his middle
linebacker spot. After missing most of 2008 to recover from shoulder
problems, he’ll be looking to pick up where he left off in 2007,
finishing the season as the Fiesta Bowl Defensive Player of the Game.
Key players to a
successful season: The offensive line. Whenever West Virginia has
been dominant it’s had an offensive line that consistently protected the
passer and opened holes for the playmakers. This year’s edition is a
little vulnerable, having to replace four starters and lean on a more
anonymous group. If the offense is going to get beyond last year’s
inconsistency, it’ll need the likes of Josh Jenkins, Selvish Capers, and
Don Barclay to clear the path to prosperity.
The season will be a success if
...West Virginia climbs back to the top of the Big East. After
unexpectedly slipping from its perch a year ago, the Mountaineers are
determined to make it back to a third BCS bowl game in the last five
years. They have as much talent as anyone in the league, so shooting any
lower would go against everything the program has achieved this decade.
Key game: Nov. 27 vs.
Pittsburgh. Lose a game to the rival Panthers, and there’s tension in
Morgantown. Two straight, and you better guard the ledges. The
Mountaineers have lost the last two Backyard Brawls, creating a sense of
urgency to get back on track. The last time these two schools met in
West Virginia, Pitt dealt a stunning upset to the home team, ending its
hopes of playing in the national championship game.
2008 Fun Stats
Third Quarter Scoring: West Virginia 101 - Opponents 21
Opponents 77 for 662 yards - West Virginia 59 for 535 yards
touchdowns: West Virginia 15 - Opponents 15