Coach Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan and most of his assistants followed. But those are not the only losses for this year’s Mountaineers. Running back Steve Slaton, receiver Darius Reynaud and fullback Owen Schmitt are also gone. That does not mean the offensive cupboard is bare. New coach Bill Stewart still has Heisman Trophy candidate Pat White, speedy tailback Noel Devine and the entire offensive line returning.
White, the senior quarterback and two-time Big East Offensive Player of the Year, led the team in passing (1,724 yards and 14 touchdowns) and rushing (1,335 yards and 14 touchdowns) last season. There is also not a single proven running back behind Devine. There is plenty along the offensive line. Led by All-America left tackle Ryan Stanchek, these five guys plowed the way for two 1,000-yard rushers. The 297.2 rushing yards per game was third best in the country last season. The receiving corps is a big question mark.
West Virginia will miss Ryan Mundy, Eric Wicks, Keilen Dykes and Johnny Dingle on defense in 2008. However, last season’s leading tackler, middle linebacker Reed Williams, returns for his senior season. Senior linebacker Mortty Ivy, the team’s second-leading tackler last season, also returns. Coach Bill Stewart stated, “Our linebackers can run like scalded dogs. Like hungry scalded dogs.”
The defensive line will have a couple of new starters, with Scooter Berry the only ราคาบอลสเต็ป ufabet returning starter up front. The Mountaineers know they have speed and size in the secondary, but the level of talent remains to be seen. The only returning starter in this unit is Quinton Andrews, but Andrews has proved he lacks discipline on and off the field.
2007 Lou Groza semifinalist Pat McAfee returns to handle kickoffs, punts, field goals and extra points. It is important to note that McAfee’s holder, Jeremy Kash, and snapper, Adam Hughes, are also back for this season. It remains to be seen how much kickoff return duty goes to Devine. He may share that role with Jock Sanders. Senior cornerback Ellis Lankster is a possible punt return candidate.
A lot of questions surround this team heading into 2008. West Virginia has a new coach, many new position coaches and a tougher schedule. They have non-conference games at Colorado and at home against Auburn. There are many questions on defense, but the Mountaineers will be able to outscore their opponents if White and Devine can stay healthy. West Virginia has the look of a Top 10 team. A BCS bowl is likely and the national title isn’t out of the realm of possibility.