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July 26, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #20 West Virginia


2009 Record – 9-4, 5-2 Big East
Bowl Game – Gator Bowl – Lost to Florida State 21-33
Letterman Returning: 31
Stadium – Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium (60,000)
College Location – Morgantown, WV
Coach – Bill Stewart 19-8 (3rd year)


Key Returnees – RB Noel Devine (below), WR Jock Sanders, G Josh Jenkins, WR Brad Starks

Key Losses – QB Jarrett Brown, WR Alric Arnett, T Selvish Capers

- The West Virginia offense has enough speed to make an Olympic sprinting team jealous and delivers enough excitement on the field to rival Circus De Olay. Small in stature – the offense has six players on their one and two deep depth chart below 6-foot - the Mountaineers make up for their lack of size with nonstop football motors. Unusual for a spread offense team, the offense starts at running back with first team All Big East senior, Noel Devine. Devine is simply marvelous, or divine, when it comes to carrying the football. With back-to-back 1,200-plus yard seasons under his belt, including 1,465 last season, Devine is a veteran player who explodes with the ball in his hands. Over the last three seasons, Devine has had seven carries of at least 70 yards, including runs of 88 and 92. At quarterback, the offense loses Jarrett Brown, who under high pressure to live up to the billing left behind by Pat White, didn’t necessarily disappoint. Filling the vacancy now is sophomore, Geno Smith. Smith played sparingly as a redshirt-freshman last season, completing 32 of 49 passes for 309 yards and a score. Smith may be a more polished passer than Brown when it’s all said and done, but for now, as a young QB, he will need to stay calm and collected in the pocket. Smith has a stellar set of wideouts in senior Jock Sanders and junior Brad Starks. Both can fly. A dark horse to watch this season for the Mountaineers is that of sophomore Tavon Austin. Austin, a five star running back recruit out of high school, has since moved to wide reviver to better utilize his speed. A 4.3 runner in the 40, Austin will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his afterburners this fall. True freshman, Ivan McCartney, will also get an early opportunity to get on the field.


Key Returnees – S Robert Sands (below), LB JT Thomas, DT Chris Neild, DE Julian Miller, CB Brandon Hogan

Key Losses – LB Reed Williams, S Nate Sowers

- Last season, the Mountaineer defense allowed its most points per game average since 2006, at 21.7 points and allowed the highest yards per game average since 2004, at 337 yards a game. In all fairness to the 2009 defense, however, their past defenses have set the bar high. A bright spot on the ’09 Mountaineer team and defense was that of the secondary. With four of its five starters returning, the unit stands as one of the best of the Big East, led by junior safety, Robert Sands and senior corner, Brandon Hogan. Sands, a mammoth 6’5’’ 225 pounder, looks the part of an out-of-place defensive end roaming the secondary. Last season, as a sophomore, he led the conference in passes defended with 13, while also bringing in five interceptions and 65 tackles. Hogan finished third in the Big East with 12 passes defended. Junior corner, Keith Tandy and senior bandit, Sidney Glover, also return. The secondary held opposing quarterbacks to a 53 percent completion percentage and gave up just two 300 yard games last season. Two starters return to the linebacking corps in seniors, Pat Lazear and JT Thomas, the team’s No. 1 and No. 2 tacklers, respectively. Thomas was a first team Big East selection last season. The line brings back all three starters including senior All-Conference nose-tackle, Chris Neild and leading sack man, Julian Miller. As a sophomore last season, Miller brought in nine sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. The line and linebacking corps will again be one of the best of the conference and contribute to a defense which held opponents to fewer than 90 yards rushing five times last season.


When Bill Stewart took over at West Virginia in 2008, he was heading into a position and program that had built pretty high expectations for their football team. The man in whom he was replacing, Rich Rodriguez, headed to Michigan with just as high of expectations from fans. Today, only one of those men has lived up to expectations and oddly enough, it isn’t the man being paid $2.5 million annually by the University of Michigan. Although Stewart has failed to deliver on a BCS season, two straight 9-4 seasons in a balanced Big East conference are also very nice. This year, five non-conference games open the 2010 season against Coastal Carolina, at Marshall, Maryland at home Sept. 18, at LSU, Sept. 25 and UNLV, Oct. 9. The Terrapins and Tigers won’t be easy early season matchups for the Mountaineers. A Thursday night home game against South Florida Oct. 14 opens conference play. Two weeks later, a trip to Connecticut kicks off on a Friday night. Cincinnati at home Nov. 13, at Louisville Nov. 20, and at Pittsburgh Nov. 26, round out a tough November. A home meeting with conference foe Rutgers ends the season on what it sure to be a cold Dec. 4 night in Morgantown.

Schedule rating: C+

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Ivan McCartney (left), *#12 WR, 6-1 180, Miramar, FL

McCartney, the cousin of Bengal great Chad Ochocinco, is a former favorite option of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in high school.

2.) Quinton Spain, #26 OT, 6-5 320, Petersburg, VA

A massive offensive tackle will be counted on for blocking for Smith in the near future.

3.) Barry Brunetti, #20 QB, 6-0 205, Memphis, TN

Brunetti has equal intangibles of a long line of West Virginia spread quarterbacks.

4.) Troy Gloster, #15 MLB, 6-0 225, Olney, MD

Gloster is an athletic linebacker who has the ability to cover and play the run equally well.

5.) Jeremy Johnson, #16 QB, 6-1 175, Silsbee, TX

Johnson is a rare athlete for his position but also just as raw as a quarterback.

*Rankings according to

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