The preseason excitement around that new-league smell was exponentially heightened by the 5-0 start and Smith’s rapid climb to Heisman frontrunner. Alas, the back-to-back cross-country trips to Austin and Lubbock were the kind of scheduling hump great teams can overcome, but WVU revealed itself to be far from that.
The Mountaineers’ defense might have looked functional against a Big East schedule, but it simply lacked the skill and experience to compete against the sharp, uptempo offenses of the Big 12.
4. All things considered, how would you grade West Virginia’s first Big 12 football season?
A to F, I’d give it a D, because the program went 7-6 with a collection of offensive playmakers the program may never enjoy again. On the Mohs hardness scale, I’d score it a 1, because there was a noticeable void of toughness as the season started unraveling. By the time WVU was getting pummeled by Syracuse in Yankee Stadium, the fight was completely gone.
5. The Mountaineers lost offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh to Oklahoma. How much did his departure sting the folks in Morgantown?
Losing the Bill-dozer less than a week after signing day was a jolt, though the bigger burn was losing to him another Big 12 program. Holgorsen backfilled in strong fashion nine days later by luring West Virginia native Ron Crook from Stanford.
Bedenbaugh was one of five assistants gone from last season’s staff: quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital (Texas A&M), running backs coach Robert Gillespie (Tennessee), cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts (fired) and special teams coordinator Steve Dunlap (reassigned).
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