Thanks for all the questions for the first installment of this season; they came flying in. This Q&A is on a rolling basis, so whenever you think of a question, let it rip, type away and I will post answers every day if I can, if not every couple days.
Remember, if you have one (or two, or three, or ...) send them to me here: http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/wvu/questions/qaform.asp
And away we go ....
QUESTION: Many people seem concerned with Geno Smith (pictured, above) as a first year starter. He may be a first year starter, but he does have experience and seems poised to take over. My concern is keeping him healthy. Are the coaches confident in the offensive line's ability to protect Geno? Do they believe he is built to make it through a full season?
- Jake in Clarksburg, W.Va.
COLIN DUNLAP: Solid question. We have been told, again -- and again and again -- about the instability on the right side of that offensive line. Those fears are real, as real as the July day is long. And, unfortunately for West Virginia, they directly impact Geno Smith. Now, in saying that, at least it isn't his blind side, as that would be an absolute mess. In terms of making it through a whole season, there is no question there are concerns about how that broken foot will hold up through a season of being the No.1 guy. If Smith gets hurt, WVU is in big, big, big trouble. I agree that he does have experience (he looked wonderful in that Marshall game last year and OK in the bowl) but he doesn't have a ton of experience. For Geno to stay healthy, much, though, doesn't just depend on him -- but also what happens with that line, particularly that right side.
QUESTION: Pat Miller (pictured, above left) has been, specifically, mentioned as having a chance to play alongside Tandy and Hogan at corner. You've been touting Brod Jenkins for quite a while. Is he in that 1A group, if you will, or would he be considered a primary backup?
- Robert in Erie, Pa.
CD: As of right now, Pat Miller and Keith Tandy are fighting it out for that spot at boundary corner, and I'd expect both of them to play a decent amount. On the other side -- at what WVU terminology tells us is something called "field corner" -- Brandon Hogan is the incumbent and Broderick Jenkins is the primary backup. You are oh-so correct about one thing: I like Broderick Jenkins, a lot. A whole lot. The kid, in my eyes, has the makings of a superstar. And, no matter what happens this year -- although Miller and Jenkins will undoubtedly play a whole lot -- think about the future here: Jenkins is a redshirt freshman and Miller a sophomore. Seems, to me at least, like Jeff Casteel has his corners covered for a few years, huh? Oh, and another thing --- come on Pat Miller, get with Tavon Austin, have some sort of meeting and come to an agreement, and one of you change your darn number! Having two guys with the No. 1 who play a lot is, well, stupid.
A few from Timmy in Harrisonburg, Va.:
QUESTION: Will the Mountaineers rely on the run this year with a inexperienced quarterback?
CD: Perhaps. Noel Devine carried the ball 241 times last season. I look for that number to bounce up to around 275. Seems to me that's what he came back to Morgantown for, right? I mean, there is that whole getting-his-degree stuff, but I'm guessing carrying the football had a bit to do with his decision to return for his senior year.
QUESTION: What is the likelihood that WVU is placed under athletic sanctions for 2011-2012? I would assume nothing will happen this year. Am I wrong in that assumption?
CD: I don't see big-time sanctions coming to Morgantown, I just don't. Could there be some things in the wake of the program breaking five major rules and one secondary rule? Sure, there could be. Same with that whole stuff about practicing with equipment when they weren't supposed to. There could be big sanctions, but I'm not seeing it. More likely -- and especially because WVU made steps to fix things on their own -- I would guess the program might see something minor handed down from the NCAA. There could be a continued reduction in the graduate assistants allowed within the program, the loss of a spring practice session, maybe something small like the NCAA taking away a home visit or two. But, if you are looking for the NCAA to lay the hammer down for these infractions, I'm just not seeing it.
QUESTION: Wondering how much a negative effect the RichRod stigma continues to impact WVU recruiting in Western PA?
- Gary in Weirton, W.Va.
CD: None. The Dave Wannstedt effect is what is impacting West Virginia recruiting in this part of the world. Seems Wannstedt is doing very, very, very well in the recruiting battle. He is winnning, head-up, against WVU for some Western Pa. kids, there is absolutely no question about it. But, West Virginia reached into Pittsburgh and got a defensive back from Bethel Park named Nick Kwiatkoski, who seems like a decent recruit -- so that seems like a start for West Virginia getting back into the area. In addition, it seems to me that while there is no question the WPIAL and Pittsburgh City League have been vital to West Virginia's success -- you heard of Major Harris, Rasheed Marshall, Vaughn Rivers, Marc Bulger, Don Barclay, Will Clarke, etc. -- the Mountaineers are spending more time than ever recruiting in other areas of the country. Now, a question to counter your question, if you will: Why do West Virginia fans still spend so much time worrying about Rich Rodriguez? Why do you still care so much about him?
QUESTION: Does this years team have the most talent ever? More than 88, 93, 97, etc...?
- Adam in Spencer, W.Va.
CD: Um, no.
QUESTION: If WVU takes a step backward this year, say 7-5 and fourth in the Big East, is Coach Stewart's job in jeopardy?
- Mike in Waynesburg, Pa.
CD: Um, yes.
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