2014 Make or Break Season for Dana Holgorsen and West Virginia Mountaineers

By Tyler Brett
dana holgorsen
Tommy Gilligan – USA TODAY Sports

Since taking over the West Virginia Mountaineers in 2011, Dana Holgorsen has faced greater difficulty maintaining his early success as the years have gone on. Since the first season under Holgorsen, the Mountaineers have won fewer games than the season before and have gone just 6-12 in Big 12 play since joining the conference. If West Virginia can’t find its footing in 2014, could the end be near for Holgorsen as the head coach?

When Holgorsen was hired, he had a reputation as one of the best offensive minds in college football. While he was able to back that up initially, the offense struggled to consistently produce in 2013, averaging the lowest yards per game of Holgorsen’s tenure (410.8). Even when the offense was playing well, though, the defense was a hindrance, giving up more than 450 yards per game in each of the last two seasons.

Part of the problem has been depth. On offense, there has been nobody to step up at quarterback since the departure of Geno Smith. Defensively, injuries in key places exposed the lack of depth in a major way and left the Mountaineers scrambling to stop anybody since joining the Big 12. As Holgorsen enters his fourth season at the helm, however, depth should no longer be an issue now that he has had time to recruit his players into the program.

By his own admission, Holgorsen has the deepest and most complete team that he’s had since taking over the West Virginia program. The team has the 11th highest percentage of returning lettermen in the country for 2014 (78.33 percent) and a wealth of athletic talent, particularly at running back. There are still serious questions about the quarterback position but that can’t be a shield to protect Holgorsen if the Mountaineers struggle again this season.

If West Virginia doesn’t take steps forward to being a competitive member of the Big 12, will Dana Holgorsen take the fall for it in 2014?

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