Mere days after West Virginia grabbed a top-10 ranking from ESPN in its preseason college football poll, the folks over at Sports Illustrated were similarly kind to the Mountaineers by placing them at #10 in their preseason poll which released this morning.
Ahead of West Virginia is a who’s-who of usual suspects: Clemson, Alabama, Wisconsin, Washington and reigning Big 12 champ Oklahoma round out the top-5 followed by Georgia, Penn State, Auburn and the now turmoil-laden Buckeyes. In short, WVU stands with good company and if these polls prove anything, it’s that the Mountaineers have (at least on paper) some serious pieces in place in 2018.
What will likely be of note to anyone who reads through West Virgina’s poll breakdown is that writer Andy Staples makes not one mention of Will Grier and the much-hyped Mountaineers offense. What he does hone in on is a defense that figures to be much improved in 2018, specifically because of graduate transfers Kenny Bigelow and Jabril Robinson. Most people outside of the WVU fanbase will snicker but the truth is that the same defense that ranked 98th in the nation last season in yards allowed per play will be far deeper and far more experienced, featuring returning stars David Long, Ezekiel Rose and Kenny Robinson.
If the Andy Staples of the world are correctly reading the tea leaves, the Mountaineers will be an offensive buzz saw backed by an improved defense that can get off the field after third downs. As the media continues to refer to Dana Holgorsen’s squad in glowing terms, the anticipation will be that much more unbearable leading up to the September 1st season-opener in Charlotte against Jeremy Pruitt’s Tennessee Vols.