What to expect from WVU, TCU in 2012?

December, 21, 2011
12/21/11
2:15
PM ET
West Virginia, barring an injunction or other legal shenanigans, will be in the Big 12 in 2012. It, like Missouri and the SEC, has every intention of making this a reality.

So what can we expect on the field?

Brian Fremeau of Football Outsiders says the Mountaineers are one of three teams poised to take the next step. Insider

For West Virginia, who is in the BCS this year, that means winning at the same rate among more difficult competition: the Big 12 elite.
But the next step for head coach Dana Holgorsen in Year 2 is to dominate -- and do so against a stronger set of opponents.

Scan down the list of West Virginia's total offensive contributors this season and you'll find no seniors -- all 5,515 yards generated this season were earned by Mountaineers who will be back for at least another year under Holgorsen's tutelage.

The key is quarterback Geno Smith's continued development and Holgorsen finally getting a full offseason as the man in charge to fully install his vision of a ruthlessly efficient and potent attack. According to our opponent-adjusted ratings, West Virginia had a top-10 offense this year but has plenty of room to improve, especially in limiting mistakes. In their three losses, the Mountaineers had eight turnovers and collected only one turnover on defense.

Additionally, top teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor won't be quite as potent next year while the Mountaineers return a ton on the most important side of the ball to win in the Big 12.

Big East blogger Andrea Adelson weighed in with the other side of the ball:
1. The defense loses its best players in Julian Miller, Bruce Irvin, Keith Tandy and Najee Goode. Irvin, Tandy and Goode all made the Big East first-team. Miller should have been recognized as well. Also, does Jeff Casteel return as defensive coordinator? If yes, how will his unique stack defense fare against the wide-open Big 12 offenses?

First off, I'm not sure what she means when she talks about "defense." The term feels familiar, but yet, strangely foreign.

West Virginia isn't the only team to bring a lot of offense and experience into the Big 12 next season. TCU's top weapons -- quarterback Casey Pachall, receivers Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson, and running back Ed Wesley -- will all be back.

Expect strong showings in Year 1 for the Mountaineers and the Horned Frogs in a wide-open Big 12 race.

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