Who will emerge as the starting QB this fall?
Paul Millard (0%)
Clint Trickett (86%)
Neither; QB rotation (14%)
Stephen Nesbitt: Bringing in a few questions I've received this morning. Lets start with the Andrew Buie saga ... what's going on there?
Stephen Nesbitt: It's a curious situation with Andrew Buie. Dana Holgorsen announced yesterday that Buie will be taking a redshirt season this fall. That means Buie would return in the spring readying for his redshirt junior season and have two years of eligibility. On one had, considering that Buie is buried on the depth chart and obviously will be behind Charles Sims this fall, it makes a sliver of sense. But since Rushel Shell will be joining the team in the spring and only Sims will be gone, won't the snaps be just as limited as they are now for Buie? It seems that way. I imagine we're going to be hearing more news from Buie's camp in the next few days, but nothing has been made official.
Ganty: How will the offensive line be with an all new interior? We're starting a redshirt freshman, sophomore and junior (JUCO) in there?
Stephen Nesbitt: We'll be keeping a close eye on the OL this fall. For those catching up, you're looking at a starting lineup of LT Quinton Spain, LG Marquis Lucas, C Tyler Orlosky, RG Mark Glowinski and RT Curtis Feigt. The tackles have the experience and, by all accounts, will be steady. The interior is the concern. Orlosky, a redshirt frosh, will start at center, and that's where I think the primary focus will be. If your center, your anchor in the middle, is steady, the offensive line has a much better chance. Orlosky has a lot of catching up to do, considering he just moved from guard in the spring, so I expect a few hiccups early in the season. He has a good pedigree, though, and should settle in nicely.
Danger: There were some concerns in the spring about the offensive line. How are they shaping up under Ron Crook, the new O-line coach?
Stephen Nesbitt: Good eye, Danger. Like I said above, the concern is with the interior, especially when WVU is debuting quarterbacks that aren't known for their mobility. If things collapse quickly, neither quarterback will look good out there. But, to answer your question, from what we've seen in practice the OL is shaping up quite well. It helps when you've got a guy behind you like Charles Sims at RB.
Ganty: Last year if Joe Madsen got hurt Jeff Braun moved over to center. If Orlosky gets hurt, does Matteo come off the bench to snap?
Stephen Nesbitt: Yep. That's the plan. Orlosky and Matteo were battling through fall camp to get the starting center spot, and Holgorsen said Orlosky was just more prepared physically at this point. Matteo will be the No. 2 option at center, though, should Orlosky get hurt.
CE: Whats your estimate for total yardage from Charles Sims?
Stephen Nesbitt: Sims broke the 1,200-yard mark each of his three seasons at Houston, but what's especially interesting to look at is his success as a freshman in 2009 when Holgorsen was his offensive coordinator ... Sims went for 698 rushing yards and 759 receiving yards with 10 total touchdowns. The coaching staff has remained pretty mum on how they want to use Sims this fall -- the focus, truly, has been on finding a QB first -- but I do expect some big numbers out of Sims. I'll stay the course and say he'll crack 1,400 yards of total offense. Could be plenty bigger, too.
CE: Do you promise to never tweet about DickRod again in the WVU related account?
Stephen Nesbitt: I didn't expect that kind of backlash, man. Coming from Michigan, RichRod is more of a running joke at this point. I'm starting to get an idea of the hard feelings around here. I'll do what I can to limit the RR sightings. But if he dances again? No promises.
Steve: Why are people so worked up over Buie sitting out a year? Didn't Charles Sims sit out 2010 (for academic reasons, I think)? Worked out OK for him
Stephen Nesbitt: Folks are so worked up, Steve, because the redshirt announcement comes after Buie was dropped off the depth chart. It seems he's no longer high on their rotation and they're comfortable with their other options at RB. For him, there seems like little reason to stick around. If he is actually behind Sims, Smallwood, Smith and Garrison at RB -- swap in Shell next year and he's still not going to be able to find playing time. It looks like they're set at RB, and it's not clear if he's going to be factoring into their plans. It's not often a team's leading rusher is on the verge of a transfer the next year for lack of playing time.
CE: WVU was a 32 point favorite yesterday over William and Mary. Do they cover?
Stephen Nesbitt: Well, Dana Holgorsen was pretty clear yesterday that he doesn't plan to pull any punches. He said WVU needs to figure out what it's good at, and it needs to figure out what's happening at QB, so that means showing off a little on offense, it seems. I think they'll cover. With just one week until playing Oklahoma, WVU needs to iron out its kinks quick -- and that means going after a weak opponent, I think.
CE: Will Holgs keep it vanilla against W&M to save for OSU? Or will he go all out to get the newbies some confidence?
Stephen Nesbitt: Just starting answering that one (and I assume you mean Oklahoma, not OSU), but I think it's going to be a healthy mixture of getting new players in -- five true freshmen and seven JUCO transfers are on the depth chart -- and getting the QBs comfortable with real-time snaps in the offense. He said he won't be hiding anything, even with Oklahoma looming, so I don't see it staying too vanilla. And that makes for fun football, too.
CE: Whats your gut on the QB situation? Will it be 50/50 all year?
Stephen Nesbitt: No way. Holgorsen said two weeks ago that he'd never rotated quarterbacks and he didn't plan to this year. Well, now he's changed his tune, but I expect they'll make their decision pretty early here. Talking to OC Shannon Dawson last night, he said they typically would have picked a starter "sometime last week," but they felt it was worth battling it out. With Oklahoma waiting, I asked, would you prefer only repping one QB at starter? He smiled and said, "It would be nice if one of them stepped up and took the job."
He said you can look at the QB situation one of two ways: Either neither has risen to the occasion or neither has. He didn't say which way he sided, but he was pleased with both. Still, I expect them to decide early.
Steve: The answer on the QB situation has to be that Dana doesn't want to alternate QBs, but he's treating this week like an NFL preseason game where it's more to evaluate, right? Alabama did the same thing in week 1 when they chose AJ McCarron a few years back.
Stephen Nesbitt: I'm with you, Steve. No reason to kill one QB's spirits now, but they'll soon decide who their man is. I suppose it's OK to rotate both in a game like W&M.
CE: Is it true the starting QB is picked by who has the best hair, Tricket would definitely win.
Stephen Nesbitt: Also valid.
CE: Are you keeping up with recruiting with WVU and what are their odds on landing NIcholson and Henry (West Pa products)
Stephen Nesbitt: Oh lordy. Just getting comfortable here on the beat, so don't have my roots down in recruiting yet. Hold onto that for a few more weeks and I'll see what I can do. Rivals and Scout folks could help you out.
Bill G.: The knock on Holgs' previous players was that they were "system players"; Graham Harrell especially got that label after he got cut by the Packers and resigned by the Jets. If it's really the system, shouldn't Dana be able to put anybody in there and get a 4000 yard passing season...why do the same group of people doubt this offense?
Stephen Nesbitt: It's a good point, Bill. The thing is, though, that what Holgorsen has hammered away on all fall is "decision-making" from his quarterbacks. You can be a system guy who doesn't have an amazing skill set if you just make the right decisions. Guess what? You need to have both an amazing skill set and make great decisions at the NFL, so that's why you'll see guys flame out at the next level. Here they need to decide who will make the better decisions. I think the skill sets are comparable. Holgorsen has said that Millard "makes the best and worst decisions," so his consistency has been a question. I wonder if that will eventually put Trickett ahead.
Wayward Eer: I found it interesting that after having some very positive things said about them over the past 2 weeks that Dana announced that Gibson, Lazard and Benton (although did see they may still be on the fence on Benton) would be redshirted. Is this a sign of depth at a position or just players not quite ready to compete as freshman?
Stephen Nesbitt: That's a sign of the depth, I think. It's a good sign. You'll see Marcell Lazard is the No. 2 RT on the depth chart, yet Holgorsen said he's planning on redshirting him. So I think he was just spouting off names yesterday that, ideally, he could redshirt. With any injuries, though, those redshirts come off in a hurry.
Scott: Who do you think will lead WVU in receiving this year?
NotJohnRaese: Who will be WVU's most dependable WR on 3rd down?
Stephen Nesbitt: Similar questions, I suppose. For 3rd down, I'm going with Ivan McCartney. He left the team last fall for family reasons and now appears back and ready to contribute. He's listed at No. 1 X receiver.
But, and I could get burned here, I think K.J. Myers will lead the team in receiving yards. He's a confident kid, and maybe I'm just drinking the Kool-Aid, but Holgorsen said he's had a phenomenal fall, and I believe he's ready to step in. Earlier in the fall, Myers told me he wants to "shock the world," "set records at receiver," and "this offense can be better than last year's." Wow. Big talk for a youngster. But, hey, I think you need confidence to be the top WR, and I see Myers being that guy this fall.
CE: How many cans of Red Bull have you personally witnessed Dana drink?
Stephen Nesbitt: Zero. I don't know what's wrong. Saw him drink a large Starbucks once, though, and it was a cup stacked inside another, so I'm hoping he'd had two large cups by 10 a.m. that day.
Wayward Eer: Speaking of injuries, yesterday they stated that Alford and Kevin White were hurt but were vague about whether they were playing this week or not. Insight?
Stephen Nesbitt: I'd say don't worry too much about Alford. They both have foot injuries, according to Holgorsen, but didn't specify how bad they were or how long they've been injured. (Both are listed as questionable.) The reason I say that about Alford, though, is that when speaking with Dawson last night he said Alford "looked really good in practice today" at inside receiver. That means, obviously, that Alford is practicing, and you'd expect him back soon.
White is more of a concern. We have no idea how bad his injury is, but we do know that he missed about a week of fall camp with a shoulder injury -- guessing it was his right shoulder since his handshake looked painful and weak that day when I spoke with him. We hadn't heard about a foot injury until yesterday, so really have no clue how long he's sidelined for.
CE: Have you been to a WVU game? Will you be going this season?
Stephen Nesbitt: Never been to a WVU game, no. And yes, of course, I'll be at all the home games this fall. Good experience? What should I make sure to see/hear/eat?
Bill G.: In a conference where 5 of the teams finished in the top 13 in Total Offense, how does the coaching staff define success on defense?
CE: If you have a pepperoni roll and a red bull its good karma
Stephen Nesbitt: The coaching staff hasn't named its defensive goals, but I imagine it's all about containment. Since they no longer have Geno and Tavon and Stedman on offense, you can't say "the offense will keep them in this." That's not proven yet. So the defense needs to at least keep the game within reach, especially while we don't know how good their offense is/will be. But they certainly can't allow 38 points per game like last season. No way. And turnover numbers need to be up -- I think that's something to look for, especially with Darwin Cook and Karl Joseph lurking in the secondary against pass-happy Big 12 teams.
NotJohnRaese: I heard you on the Dude's show last night. Is he a jerk like people say?
NotJohnRaese: Allowing 35 points per game gives you the best defense in the Big 12.
Stephen Nesbitt: Had fun on the show last night. I've never met The Dude in person, but he seems like a quality, quality guy. Sorry about the audio problems early on in the show -- we'll do it again soon, I'm sure.
CE: After visiting the team, who in your eyes, is the most imposing player? Who should be 1st off the bus?
Stephen Nesbitt: Will Clarke has quite the presence, but so does Charles Sims. They just have the look of guys that are ready for the next level. Sims is very soft-spoken, but you know he can do some damage when he gets the ball. It'll be exciting to watch him this fall.
CE: Any word on where Arlia and Johnson are transferring>
Stephen Nesbitt: Haven't had this confirmed, but I believe Connor Arlia is headed to WV Wesleyan. Haven't heard anything on Johnson.
Chris S.: What does WVU have to do to get back to a BCS bowl game?
Stephen Nesbitt: Build a defense that doesn't allow 38 points per game. Find a starting quarterback that makes the smart decisions in this up-tempo offense. Have a running back to complement and keep defenses off-guard.
Bill G.: Does the winner of the Big 12 go undefeated in conference?
Stephen Nesbitt: I think it'll be a one-loss team taking the Big 12 title this year. Just a guess. But a great guess.
CE: Is Geno Smith going to star tthe season for NYJ?
Stephen Nesbitt: Knew we'd have this one in here at some point. Geno Smith will start at some point this season, yes. Is that because he's ready or because they have nothing else to lose? Probably the latter. There will be calls to start Geno very, very early, but I think Sanchez starts the season, assuming he's healthy.
James Angell: Do you think they can bring order to the WVU offense this year?
Stephen Nesbitt: That's the idea there, James. I think they'll take Pride in the kind of offense they're trying to build, and they are already rallying around the sort of underdog label they've been given after losing Tavon, Stedman, Geno and J.D. to the NFL.
Bridge: Does William & Mary concern you at all?
Stephen Nesbitt: Absolutely. Now, a 2-9 team isn't going to scare many people, but they're a well-coached ballclub that, amazingly, came within 9:42 of knocking off Maryland in the opener last season. Now, a 7-6 loss to the Terps might say more about Maryland than W&M, but still, you've got to be prepared in week 1. With questions at quarterback and pitting their perennially week secondary against a stiff passing attack, there's some reason for concern in Morgantown.
James Angell: Thanks. Great job and best of luck at the Post-Gazette.
Stephen Nesbitt: Thanks, James.
Wayward Eer: What is your season record prediction for the Mounties?
Stephen Nesbitt: This is probably a good one to start to wrap up with. I've got West Virginia at 7-5 this fall. Those losses coming against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU and Texas. You?
Stephen Nesbitt: Alright, thanks for joining the chat today, everyone. We'll be back here every Wednesday at 1 p.m. You can find me at @stephenjnesbitt and @mountaineerspg on Twitter in the meantime. See you down at the stadium Saturday.