2022 West Virginia Mountaineers Preview

by Matt Fargo

West Virginia Mountaineers

2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (4-5 Big 12) - 6-7-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 7
Defense - 5

Overview

Life in the Big 12 has not been as rewarding as it was in the Big East for West Virginia. The Mountaineers finished ranked in the AP Poll in six of the final seven years in their former conference including a No. 5 and No. 6 but have only done so twice in the current league with a high being No. 18. Overall, they are 68-56 which is very good considering the competition they face on a yearly basis but have had a winning conference record only four times. Head coach Neal Brown is in his fourth season and he has posted a losing record overall so this is a pivotal season where West Virginia needs to make some noise or his days could be numbered. There is not much coming back from back-to-back bowl seasons with just 12 starters returning and the Mountaineers have a No. 111 returning production ranking. But he brought in his best recruiting class and veteran help is on the way.

Offense

West Virginia has seen the offense dip in the three seasons since the days of Dana Holgorsen and last year it finished No. 76 in total offense and No. 78 in scoring offense. That will not get it done in the Big 12 and the Mountaineers struggled with consistency, scoring 29 or more points five times and scoring 20 or fewer points six times. Quarterback Jarret Doege was accurate, completing 65.8 percent of his passes for over 3,000 yards but his 11 interceptions were a problem. Now they get transfer J.T. Daniels from Georgia and USC prior to that and he will fit into a new system led by new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell who is an offensive guru. Two of the top receivers are back that combined for over 1,000 yards and they will easily surpass that. The veteran offensive line has four starters back and that should improve the running game as long as someone steps up.

Defense

The defense has to replace six starters and they received some solid depth from the transfer portal with seven players coming in to solidify the back seven. The Mountaineers were No. 41 in total defense and No. 50 in scoring defense and they allowed fewer than 400 yards 10 times and if they can get production like that again, they will be just fine with the revamped offense. The defensive line will be the strength as it is a veteran group that did a great job at stopping the run and causing disruption. Dante Stills is back on the inside after 37 tackles and seven sacks while Tajik Alston and Jared Bartlett combined for 67 tackles and 8.5 sacks from the end positions. Leading tackler Josh Chandler-Semedo has to be replaced at linebacker while safeties Sean Mahone and Alonzo Addae, who combined for 155 tackles, are gone as well and this is where those transfers have to step up.

2022 Season Outlook

Daniels is an upgrade at quarterback and unfortunately, he lost his job at the first two stops because of injuries so if he can stay healthy, the offense should hum along. That they need as they are playing a tough schedule that is backloaded with six games over their last seven against teams that won at least seven games last season. They open on the road with a tough game at rival Pittsburgh and then back home to face Towson and Kansas before two more difficult road tests at Virginia Tech and Texas. The Mountaineers do get Baylor and Oklahoma at home but have to travel to Texas Tech, Iowa St. and Oklahoma St. and they are likely going to be underdogs in all six road contests. The O/U win total is set at 5.5 and this looks like a pass either way with such a tough slate and numerous changes on both sides of the ball. Bowl eligibility is likely a must for Brown and it will be tough. 

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