Can West Virginia be this years Washington?
Last year the Washington Huskies received a fair amount of love around the country in the preseason, but were overlooked for the most part. Several different college football analysts did not think they were legit, including myself until they played an impressive game in the PAC 12 Championship. As you know, the Huskies finished with a birth in the college football playoff as the No.4 seed and matched up against #1 Alabama. Like Washington, the Mountaineers boast a prolific offense with talented play makers at the skill position such as Justin Crawford, Kennedy McKoy, Ka'Raun White, David Sills, Gary Jennings etc, etc. Another likeness among the offense is the decision making and accuracy of the starting quarterback. Can Will Grier put up the gawdy numbers like Jake Browning did last year? Possible, but taking care of the football will be huge for Grier and having a talented running back corps will go a long way.
Looking at the defensive side of the ball, the Mountaineers do not return much starting experience, but do return a lot of game experience. It's a mixed group of veteran leaders such as LB Al-Rasheed Benton, LB Xavier Preston, and safeties Kyzir White and Dravon Askew-Henry to go along with some promising youth. The Mountaineers were the number one scoring defense in the Big 12 Conference in 2016, if they can get that same production again, it could take this team to a whole other level. Washington had a defensive roster full of studs and West Virginia has the potential to be just as good, god willing everyone remains healthy.
In 2016, Washington had one of the easiest first half's of the season not playing their first meaningful game until October 29th against Utah. A couple of cupcakes were scheduled early (Rutgers, Idaho, Portland St.) which helped them gain confidence early on. After West Virginia takes on Virginia Tech, it SHOULD BE easy coasting until what I think will be the Mountaineers' first marquee match up against Oklahoma State. Look at the dates, seeing a pattern here? Now this does not mean I think West Virginia will run right through teams like TCU and Baylor, but I do see them winning those games which would have West Virginia undefeated heading into that marquee match up with the Pokes.
Coming off a 10-win season the team should have plenty of confidence within themselves, especially with a shiny new quarterback that looks to improve this offense from a year ago, if that is the case, watch out college football fans, West Virginia could be that team on the cusp of a playoff berth.