Projecting West Virginia's Offensive Starters for 2020
The 2019 football season was one that many West Virginia fans would like to forget. The Mountaineers had major challenges in nearly every facet of the offense and struggled to put together any bit of efficiency. By glancing at the numbers below, you can quickly tell an offense such as last year's is not going to win you many games, especially in the Big 12.
Passing yards per game: 248.6
Rushing yards per game: 73.3
Total yards per game: 321.9
Points per game: 20.6
Can the Mountaineer offense put a better product on the field? Time will tell. For now, let's take a look at our projected starters for the offense.
QB Jarret Doege
The quarterback battle is going to be one that everyone keeps a close eye on in fall camp. However, I think Doege has an extra edge about him that gives him a slight advantage. To be honest, Doege didn't look all that impressive in 2019 despite winning over much of the fan base, but the talent is absolutely there. Doege just gives the team a better chance to win games and move the ball with efficiency. He just needs to know when to throw the ball away and not force it into a tight window.
RB Leddie Brown
If there is anyone due for a breakout season, it's Leddie Brown. He instantly gained respect from the fans as a true freshman in 2018 just bullying his way through the Tennessee defense in his first-ever game, but has to become more consistent. He's never had the opportunity to be an every-down guy but now is his chance.
WR (X) Sean Ryan
Ryan could have been one of the best receivers on the Mountaineers' roster in 2019, but an upper-body injury held him out of four games and wasn't really the same guy when he returned. With a full offseason to get healthy, I'm expecting Ryan to be the team's most improved player at the position.
WR (SL) T.J. Simmons
At times, T.J. Simmons as unguardable in the slot in 2019. Each game you started to see the confidence continue to build in him, and having a more consistent Sam James on the outside should help open up things for Simmons in the middle of the field.
WR (Z) Sam James
The West Virginia offense seemingly ran through the young Sam James in 2019, although he wasn't always the most reliable. He has the ability to hit big, but his catch percentage needs to see an uptick for him to take it to the next level. I think you'll see James concentrate on that area of his game a little more in 2020, and by doing so, it will make him one of the league's best receivers as a redshirt sophomore.
TE Mike O'Laughlin
Neal Brown once said that "Mike O'Laughlin has the chance to be a really good player in this league and one of the best tight ends in this league." He's a strong run blocker and played a lot of receiver in high school, so he has the tools to be a complete player at tight end.
LT Brandon Yates
There's a lot to like about Brandon Yates. Size, strength, athleticism, he has every bit of it. Neal Brown and his coaching staff were really impressed with his development throughout his freshman year, so I would expect him to be in line to win the job. Junior Uzebu and Parker Moorer could also push Yates for that starting spot.
LG Mike Brown
Brown appeared in eleven games in 2019 but only started six. He struggled early in the year, which caused the reshuffling of the offensive line. He's back for his final year of eligibility and needs to make the most of it.
C Chase Behrndt
This guy brings energy both on and off the field. He's going to play with 100% effort, 100% of the time. Having experience at both guard and center will give the coaching staff some flexibility if struggles along the line continue in 2020.
RG James Gmiter
In my opinion, James Gmiter has the highest ceiling of any of the "starting" offensive lineman heading into the season. He can play both guards spots but seems to be a better fit on the right side. Should he put together at least two more solid seasons, Gmiter could hear his name called in the NFL Draft sometime down the road.
RT John Hughes
I'm sure you're wondering why I'm not putting Tairiq Stewart here, but Hughes has been around Morgantown for a while now, and Stewart arrived late. I think you'll see Hughes start the season, but Stewart or redshirt freshman Parker Moorer could take over at any point.
Who do you think should start for the Mountaineers on offense in 2020? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
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