West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen may be coaching for his job in 2014. The once renowned guru of the air-it-out style of offense has seen his reputation tarnished a bit since the Mountaineers moved into the Big 12, and last season, Holgorsen’s offense could barely get off the ground.
While the Mountaineers did well running the ball, with Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith combining for about 1,500 rushing yards, the passing attack sputtered. Clint Trickett, who will return as West Virginia’s starting quarterback in 2014, completed only 52.8 percent of his passes for 1,605 yards, while throwing as many interceptions (seven) as touchdowns.
The good news for Holgorsen and the West Virginia football program is that those struggles are now in the past. The Mountaineers head into 2014 with a much more experienced offense and quite a bit of talent. Trickett will need to improve, but under Holgorsen’s tutelage, he is almost certain to come back stronger this year. West Virginia also returns their top three pass-catchers from last season in Mario Alford, Kevin White and Daikiel Shorts.
Out of the backfield, the Mountaineers lost Sims and Smith but still return plenty of talent. Former high-school All-American Rushel Shell is now eligible after sitting out last season following his transfer from the Pittsburgh Panthers. Shell will give the Mountaineers a dynamic threat both as a runner and as a receiver.
Outside of Trickett’s development, the biggest issue for the Mountaineers’ offense could be in the trenches. West Virginia will have three new starters along the offensive line. Fortunately, they do return a potential All-Big 12 guard in Quinton Spain. Spain will need to take on a leadership role to make sure the line hits the ground running.
Like with any other program, a few things will have to fall West Virginia’s way. Players will have to develop and stay healthy as the season goes on. But if those things happen, the Mountaineers’ offense could get back to the kind of aerial assault that Holgorsen wants and West Virginia fans expect in 2014.