June 12, 2021

Jared: WVU football gives me plenty of concerns. Here are 3 for this year.

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We are three months from Week 1, and I’ve got the typical summer blues.

Having been raised a fan of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, summers were spent overreacting positively to mundane news before ultimately being discouraged and disheartened come game time.

With that being said, I think the West Virginia football team is in a similar position. Here are some of my concerns heading into the summer:

I’m concerned that Neal Brown won’t make the switch to Garrett Greene until it’s too late

Since he came to town in 2019, we’ve seen that Neal Brown is pretty adamant about rolling with “his guys.” I’d offer that Jarret Doege has been one of them.

After coming to WVU as a transfer from Bowling Green in 2019, Doege sat most of the year behind starter Austin Kendall in order to preserve his redshirt, ultimately playing in the final four games.

As soon as Doege was under center, it seemed as if nothing could bump him from the spot. During a pretty average 2020 season, Doege wasn’t actually replaced until Kendall did so in the final game of the year.

Doege isn’t exactly exciting, but he isn’t really a negative at the quarterback position. He’s just kind of there. On the other hand, Garrett Greene, the only person really perceived as a threat to Doege, brings swagger and energy to the position.

Greene possesses a unique athletic skillset that hasn’t been seen in years, and he’s really the first player of his kind to have a realistic shot under center since Brown became the head coach.

It seems inevitable, barring Doege becoming a true Heisman contender this fall, that Greene will receive genuine playing time. I’m just hoping that Brown doesn’t miss the signals.

Greene’s versatility and playmaking ability — both with his legs and his arm — make the offense more difficult to prepare for. He’s a much more agile player, and it more than makes up for his lack of a deep ball ability.

This year seems like the first year of the Brown era that the Mountaineers could be a genuine contender in the conference or, at the very least, a threat. They’ll have to be clicking up and down the roster, and that includes rolling with the hot hand at every position.

I’m concerned that the defense could go from first to worst

Tony Fields turned in arguably one of the best defensive seasons by a Mountaineer ever last season. Now that he, as well as Darius Stills, Dreshun Miller, Tykee Smith and others are gone, I am very worried about the West Virginia defense.

The aforementioned players helped build the Mountaineer defense into the top in the Big 12 last season and, for a moment, the best in the nation. Now, it’s been gutted. Looking at parts of the roster, it’s like watching a reboot of the 2000 film “The Replacements.”

I’m not asking Penn State transfer Lance Dixon to come in and replicate Fields’s production, but considering the state of the defense, it’ll be somewhat necessary for the Mountaineers to continue their upward ascent.

I find it highly unlikely that West Virginia will even sniff the success they had from a year ago, considering the holes and lack of depth in some areas. Nicktroy Fortune, Darryl Porter Jr. and Charles Woods will likely be solid in the secondary, but if the position becomes riddled with injuries, calling up the bartender from Kegler’s to line up in the slot doesn’t seem too far off.

All kidding aside, there is tons of work that needs to be done on the defensive side of the ball. The only saving grace is that Alonzo Addae and Josh Chandler-Semedo, who ranked second and third in tackles on the team last year, return.

I’m concerned that the Mountaineers won’t have a true WR1 (again)

This time a year ago, an argument could be made that Sam James was destined to be West Virginia’s primary target in the fall.

He dropped that opportunity, much like many passes thrown in his direction last season.

Winston Wright Jr. worked his way up the depth chart, but he doesn’t have that dominating presence that you want in a No. 1. Bryce Ford-Wheaton has shown inconsistencies.

Heading into this summer, not much has changed.

In my eyes, the lone addition has been that of Kaden Prather, who shows the size and skillset you want at the position — and he’s only a freshman. Yet, the situation seems all too similar to that of Sam Brown from a year ago, who didn’t make much of an impact.

I feel like part of the reason in bringing in Gerad Parker was to push for growth at the wide receiver position, and this will be a critical offseason for that.

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