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West Virginia Mountaineers Betting - West Virginia Mountaineers 2011 College Football Preview

Posted by Blake Frazier on 7/20/2011 6:46:54 PM
west virginia mountaineers betting

The most football-ignorant MLB baseball betting guru could tell you that West Virginia experienced a soap opera this past offseason.

This was supposed to be a year in which head coach Bill Stewart stayed at the helm of the Mountaineers while Dana Holgorsen, brought in from Oklahoma State University, served as the team’s offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting. Stewart was going to be a steward and caretaker of the program while Holgorsen adjusted to his new environment. Given the talent on hand in Morgantown, West Virginia could field one of the nation’s premier offenses and regain its place among the elite teams in the Big East. However, this offseason was filled with incidents in which Stewart actively sought to undermine Holgorsen. Yes, Holgorsen soiled his own reputation as a coach and as the face of the program in recent months. Multiple incidents of intoxication (due to alcohol) brought negative publicity to WVU, but Stewart’s meddling to uproot Holgorsen unsettled the program even more. Stewart was pushed out more than a month ago, leaving Holgorsen as the head coach for this year, one year earlier than West Virginia Athletic Director OIiver Luck would have liked. 

Holgorsen, as a coordinator, guided prolific offenses at Houston and last season at Oklahoma State. At West Virginia, Holgorsen has a chance to have his best offense yet. Quarterback Geno Smith has a strong and accurate arm who will likely flourish within the framework of Holgorsen’s offense. It will help Smith that he’ll line up with a talented group of wide receivers in Tavon Austin, Bradley Starks, Stedman Bailey, and Ivan McCartney.
The Mountaineers return four of five offensive linemen and shouldn’t struggle to protect Smith. The offensive philosophy won’t ask Smith to hold the ball for long, so sacks against West Virginia will be hard to get. The real challenge for Holgorsen will be to identify a tailback that can run between the tackles.

The most frustrating aspect of the previous two seasons has been the way the Mountaineers’ offense has seemingly wasted the performance of a dominating defense. Sports betting experts would not disagree with that statement. Coordinator Jeff Casteel fields a unique version of the 3-3-5 defense that has smothered opponents over the years. While several players were lost to the NFL last season, the Mountaineers still return a copious amount of talent on defense. Casteel is looking forward to fielding a defense that won’t have to do everything itself.

The biggest returning piece on the defense is pass rushing terror Bruce Irvin, who led the Big East in sacks last season (14) despite not starting a single game and only playing on passing downs. He’ll play full time in 2011. The defense doesn’t call for big defensive linemen; 250-pound defensive tackle Julian Miller is about as small a tackle as you will find.

The back eight defenders are still in uncertain positions after the spring, but cornerback Keith Tandy returns to shore up the secondary. Najee Goode is the only returning linebacker and will likely move from the strong to the weak side. Still, Casteel likes the new players stepping in and is optimistic that former JUCO All-American Josh Francis will be a contributor at safety.

The schedule is as tough as there is in the Big East, and that could be a factor should West Virginia overachieve in non-conference play. The Mountaineers open with rival Marshall and travel to Maryland in week three, when they will be favored. The following week they host LSU. In the conference, the ‘Eers host Connecticut, Louisville and rival Pitt but travel to South Florida to end the season in what could be a de facto conference title game. A percentage-based sports bet should tab West Virginia to win the Big East this season.

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