2009 record: 9-4, 5-2 (2nd-tie in Big East)
2009 bowl: Lost to Florida State 33-21 in Gator
2009 final AP/coaches' ranking: 25/22
Coach: Bill Stewart (19-8, 3rd year)
Offensive coordinator: Jeff Mullen (3rd year)
Defensive coordinator: Jeff Casteel (9th year)
Returning offensive starters: 9
Returning defensive starters: 9
Location: Morgantown, W.Va.
Stadium: Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium (FieldTurf; 60,000)
Last league title: 2007
2010 schedule: [view]
2010 roster: [view]
2009 statistics: [view]
Offensive: Nine starters return to the offense, but all eyes are on the quarterback position, where sophomore Geno Smith is the favorite. But it’s not a certainty. Smith broke a bone in his foot and missed spring practice. That opened the door for sophomore Coley White, brother of former West Virginia quarterback Pat White, to get some experience. Elsewhere, familiar faces dot the West Virginia lineup. Senior running back Noel Devine, a 5-foot-8, 180-pound blur, will try to build upon his 1,465 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns from last season. Senior wide receiver Jock Sanders, with 72 receptions last season, is the top pass-catcher. Four starters return to the offensive line.
Defensive: West Virginia employs a 3-3-5 alignment and its front three, led by junior edge pass-rusher Julian Miller, should be outstanding. Senior linebackers Pat Lazear and J.T. Thomas will again challenge for the team leadership in tackles. The Mountaineers have intriguing players in the secondary, primarily excellent cover corner Brandon Hogan, a senior, and 6-5, 221-pound junior free safety Robert Sands, who had five interceptions.
Specialists: Sophomore place-kicker Tyler Bitancurt hit 13 of his 15 field-goal attempts — including one that beat Pittsburgh — so West Virginia is secure there. It must replace the 44.4-yard punting average of Scott Kozlowski, and Alabama transfer Corey Smith is the logical candidate. There’s an abundance of speedy possibilities in the return game.
Coaching: Bill Stewart has kept the ship sailing following the trauma of Rich Rodriguez’s departure to Michigan after the 2007 season. Stewart is a back-slapping player’s coach who knows how to deflect pressure off his team and keep everyone focused on the goal.
Heisman hopefuls: Devine is on the short list. He could be the nation’s most spectacular running back, capable of driving defenders crazy with his array of start-and-stop moves.
Overview: Nineteen starters return for West Virginia, giving the Mountaineers legitimate hope for reaching a BCS bowl. With the Big East race seemingly wide open, West Virginia can’t afford to squander its opportunity.
Next up: No. 20 Auburn
CFT: Former Penn State signalcaller Steven Bench joined the South Florida Bulls, he announced on Twitter.
CFT: The University of Nevada is honoring longtime coach Chris Ault, who stepped down in the fall, by renaming the school's football field after him.
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