WVU might hit ground running
By Bob Hertzel
Published: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia begins its biggest journey into the unknown since Rich Rodriguez took over as coach more than a decade ago when the Mountaineers entertain William & Mary in a noon game at Milan Puskar Stadium.
WVU is coming off a disappointing 7-6 season, its first in the Big 12, and does so without quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, all of whom were taken in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.
“We have to figure out what we do well and what our team is all about,” said coach Dana Holgorsen, entering his third season.
The Mountaineers' situation is so unsettled that they have not yet named a regular quarterback, with Holgorsen saying neither Florida State transfer Clint Trickett nor Paul Millard, Smith's backup the past two seasons, have outplayed the other to earn the job.
“Who's going to start? I don't know,” Holgorsen said. “They will both play. At this point, they've done nothing to warrant not playing quarterback here. It's going to take some game reps and putting these guys in situations where they have to respond to really know what we're working with.”
WVU has three new players in the middle of the offensive line and a new group of receivers. Last year's leading rusher, Andrew Buie, just withdrew from school.
Yet Holgorsen is confident his offense will work, in part because running back Charles Sims, a transfer from Houston.
“He will probably be the best running back at WVU since Steve Slaton,” running backs coach JuJuan Seider said. “He's in that mold. He may even have a better feel than Steve.”
Sims is a triple threat who can run, catch passes and return kicks.
“He could go and be our best receiver right now. His ball skills are that good,” Seider said.
Sims — recruited by Holgorsen when he was Houston's offensive coordinator — earned Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors that season, catching 70 passes and running for 698 yards.
WVU is experienced defensively, but players gained most of their experience being part of the worst defense in program history.
“We knew how bad we were and how bad we let people down,” senior linebacker Doug Rigg said. “It's sticking in your brain, ‘Hey, we can't let this happen.' ”
Keith Patterson, who coached the linebackers last season, takes over as defensive coordinator and changes to a 3-4 scheme.
Bob Hertzel is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- For Steelers defense, it’s all a matter of trust
- Steelers notebook: Woodley expects to start Sunday vs. Dolphins
- Pitt slows down Loyola Marymount, 85-68
- Fans of former conservative radio hosts Quinn, Tennent support toy drive
- Jokinen takes center stage as fill-in for Pens’ Malkin
- Penguins notebook: Malkin to miss 2nd straight game Saturday
- That’s a Jeep Cherokee? No retro in 2014 model
- Latrobe couple accused of using car trunk to end son’s fear of the dark
- Greensburg Diocese’s school chief out
- Ex-Pirate Jones close to signing with Marlins
- High school basketball roundup: Top-ranked Elizabeth Forward wins opener