West Virginia intends to take its time this spring, and with good reason – perhaps team has more to do than the Mountaineers. This is a team that burst on to the Big 12 scene with a 5-0 start and a No. 5 ranking to boot, only to endure a crash landing on its flight to Miami as the Mountaineers lost six of their final eight games.
Gone is Geno Smith and his 4,205 passing yards to go with 42 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. Gone are Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and J.D. Woods, who combined to account for 3,548 of those yards and 41 of those touchdowns. And also gone is the interior of West Virginia’s offensive line.
The Mountaineers must also fix a defense that ranked 60th in rushing defense, 119th in pass efficiency defense, 108th in total defense and 114th in scoring defense. Things weren’t quite as bad on special teams, where West Virginia ranked 110th in net punting, 92nd in kickoff returns and 99th in kickoffs. The lone bright spot, a No. 28 ranking in punt returns, came thanks to the zigs and zags of the now-departed Austin.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of work to do. And the West Virginia staff can’t wait to do it.
“Usually spring is boring. It won’t be boring this spring,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Spring practice began on Sunday and will wrap up with the Blue-Gold Game on April 20.
From the sound of it, Dana Holgorsen is taking the opportunity to reinvent his third-year program after one successful season and one disappointment.
“It is an opportunity, and Shannon and I have been talking about this for a while from an offensive standpoint. Let us re-evaluate everything, and let’s start coaching these guys real hard,” Holgorsen said. “Coach [Joe] DeForest and I have been talking about it from a program standpoint and from a special teams standpoint what we need to do to make it better. That is called coaching. Coach [Keith] Patterson and I have been talking from a defensive standpoint as far as where we are at and what we have to do to get better. It is exciting, and we are pretty motivated to get out there and start coaching.”