Midseason report: West Virginia

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
6:00
AM ET
West Virginia Mountaineers

Record: 5-1 (1-0, Big East)

Much was expected of West Virginia headed into this season with Dana Holgorsen taking over as head coach. The Mountaineers were the preseason pick to win the conference, and so far they are living up to the hype. They are the only Big East team in the AP Top 25, ranked at No. 13 this week. A big reason why, of course, is the offense, which has been one of the most prolific in the nation. West Virginia ranks No. 4 in pass offense, No. 11 in total offense and No. 12 in scoring offense. Geno Smith is one of the top passers in the country, too, following along with what Case Keenum and Brandon Weeden did under Holgorsen in previous stops. West Virginia is second in the league in scoring (averaging 40.8 points a game), second in total offense (a smidge behind USF at 503.5 ypg), and first in passing offense (380.5 ypg), pass efficiency offense, first downs and red-zone offense. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are on pace to each have 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Tyler Bitancurt has been the best kicker in the Big East, making 11 of his 12 attempts. There are some areas that need improvement. West Virginia continues to struggle running the ball. The defense had to replace several starters and has not been as productive getting sacks, either. But the unit has played better in back-to-back games and made a huge difference in the only conference win so far this season. The second half of the season will prove to be much more challenging, with four of their final six games on the road. That includes a three-game swing to close the season at Cincinnati, then home to Pitt and then at USF.

Offensive MVP: QB Geno Smith. Smith has thrown for 2,159 yards already this season with 16 touchdowns to three interceptions, and needs just 605 yards to surpass his total from a year ago. Where does he rank nationally? No. 4 in completions (165); No. 5 in passing yards per game (359.8); and No. 7 in total offense (357.7 ypg). Yup, he has been as good as expected.

Defensive MVP: LB Najee Goode. You could make an argument for safety Terence Garvin, who has 38 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions this season. But Goode has been asked to do multiple things for the defense this season at linebacker, starting games both in the middle and at strong side. He still is tied for the team lead with 41 tackles and has proven to be invaluable at that position.

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