West Virginia football: Mountaineers have tough stretch to start Big 12 play

BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Published: February 14, 2012
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Here is a quick primer on West Virginia's first season in the Big 12:

Last Year: 10-3, including a 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.


Coach: Dana Holgorsen (second season, 10-3)

Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (6).

Outlook: Ranked in the top 15 in preseason polls, the Mountaineers, coached by Holgorsen, the former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator, could be one of the favorites in their debut season in the Big 12.

West Virginia will be led by quarterback Geno Smith (4,385 passing yards, 31 TDs). A senior, Smith broke nearly all of Marc Bulger's single-season school passing records.

Three standout wide receivers — Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and Ivan McCartney — combined for 222 receptions for 3,050 receiving yards and 23 touchdown catches.

The top five defensive players were seniors. With six returning starters on defense, it won't be a rebuilding project but the Mountaineers need some players to emerge to prevent being forced to win shootouts.

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