MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Today launches a position-by-position examination of where the West Virginia football team stands after spring practice.

The eight-day video series runs through the two-deep—and even the four-deep in the case of that persistent quarterbacks quandary—as we look four months ahead to the Mountaineers’ 2014 opener against Alabama and Year 3 in the Big 12 Conference.

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THE LINEUP
Tuesday, April 15
 Defensive line: Can no-name group hold the front?
Wednesday, April 16
 Linebackers: Will they be nasty or negligible?
Thursday, April 17
 Secondary: Trying to reverse two dreadful years of pass defense
Friday, April 18
 Special teams: Aiming to be really special in 2014?
Monday, April 21
 Offensive line: Are the Mountaineers vulnerable up front?
Tuesday, April 22
 Receivers: Can they get their swagger back?
Wednesday, April 23
 Running backs: Is this the best unit in the Big 12?
Thursday, April 24
 Quarterbacks: Can any of the current QBs win eight games?

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia defensive end Dontrill Hyman (99) pursues Oklahoma’s Brennan Clay last year in Norman. Hyman made two starts as a junior in 2013, registering 18 tackles and 3.5 for loss.

 

West Virginia’s defensive line must replace two of three starters following the graduations of Will Clarke and nose guard Shaq Rowell. Defensive end Kyle Rose returns, while the most potentially dominant member of the group, Dontrill Hyman, needs to ramp up his production from a mediocre 2013. (Recall the wide-eyed enthusiasm departed coaches Keith Patterson and Erik Slaughter held for Hyman upon his arrival from junior college last summer? He certainly looked the part physically, but outside of one hellacious goal-line stop against Oklahoma State, he wasn’t as disruptive as WVU needed him to be—just 3 1/2 tackles for loss and no sacks in 12 games.)

Projected starters: Kyle Rose (6-4, 293, redshirt junior) and Dontrill Hyman (6-4, 294, senior) at defensive ends/tackle, with Christian Brown (6-3, 304, redshirt sophomore) at nose tackle.

Backups: Noble Nwachukwu (6-2, 277, redshirt sophomore) and Eric Kinsey (6-2, 268, junior) at ends, with Darrien Howard (6-2, 288, sophomore) spelling Brown. Howard, who arrived in Morgantown just 10 days before the 2013 season opener, has added about 50 pounds since starring as a linebacker/fullback at Chaminade-Julienne in Dayton, Ohio.

Watch the video at the top of the page for player highlights and to learn how Allan Taylor and Justin Hoff grade the defensive line after spring practice.

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  • WVU FAN

    Great job gentlemen, I loved the information on our Down linemen and the grade you guys gave; so us fans can see what challenges WVU faces in the trenches.... What number would you guys give our down linemen out of the ten teams in the Big 12 & where would Alabama rank among the Big 12 schools?
    10. WVU
    9. Iowa St
    8. Kansas
    7. Texas. Tech
    6. TCU
    5. Kansas St
    4. Oklahoma St.
    3. Baylor
    2. Oklahoma
    1. Texas

    • FNP

      Granted, Oklahoma will have the best D in the league. They are reloading for a title run.

      Texas loses Adrian Phillips and Carrington Byndom. They have some good talent up front but nothing like the last few years.

      Baylor loses both starting D-ends, both starting linebackers. There were no juniors on the 2 deep were listed going into the Fiesta bowl (not much experience there).

      Okie St. will lose two D linemen, starting linebackers and three starting d-backs. 13 seniors on that depth chart last year.

      K-State loses their entire d-line. They lose a starting linebacker and free safety which contributed big time. Now Snyder is known to replace his kids fast. Their D is always good.

      Iowa State loses three in the secondary but their up front should be decent since they are returning most of their front. They will be vulnerable behind the linebackers.

      Tech is more worried about putting up points than stopping the opposing team. Losing a all conference d-linemen and 3 starters in the secondary will hurt and ol' Kliff will rely on his QB to win shootouts.

      TCU is priming themselves for lights out defensive showing. They bring back alot of experience and should be a tough unit to go against.

      Kansas is starting to get scary. They are bringing back 9 starters on D but they cant find a way to score on defensive side. They are the type of team who will play you down to the wire. Those key interceptions and fumble recovery's for scores could be their make or break.

      WVU needs to be more worried about their offense because it looks like they D unit will bringing alot of experience. I think Gibson paired with his D coaches will turn this group of kids into a Top 3/4 D in the league. Look for the D to bail them out in a couple close ones to start the season.

      Let's Go EERS!!!

  • Marcus

    With Bradley there now I expect a version of more zone blitzing/Steelers defensive scheme. With that 3 man front you can do that and put more speed on the field.

  • Alex

    There was one game jumps out at me in last years schedule, where we same as lost in the first quarter. It was the Baylor game , they was on us like hair on a Woollyworm. But for the others games we always had a shot to win it... ( not the Maryland )Ałso if you be member it was late in the game is where we just collapse....or lost in overtime. If you will notice what the coaches say, they are always talking about two and three deep, which adds up to depth....you need it you just can't win without it... Always remember you are as strong as the weakest link, what ever position it is....

    • Beaver Sniffer

      I like! Goode re-sun's and well rightin'!

  • 1olewvufan

    What impressed me at Wheeling and Charleston was the speed of the defense, not necessarily the play, and that the RBs and TEs look like they could play today.

  • 1olewvufan

    Wasn't it the 1972 Miami Dolphins that had the "No Name Defense"?

  • Rick55

    I see us adequately replacing Clark and Rowell and better coaching so probably a small net gain for the D-line.

  • mad hatter

    still having a ball on this site,.,,,

  • Shawn 108

    If William Crest comes in ready to play. We are going to be 8-4. This team is a lot more talented then people see. They need a leader to tie it all together. It's a lot to ask of a freshman but hey the last 2 heisman winners were too.

  • mad hatter

    we have to replace too many key people on both lines, and we have no div 1 qb. thank you dawson and holgorsen.
    i see little improvement from last yr. we may have more depth, but the quality of the depth is highly questionable.
    i predict a near duplication of last yrs. record,, i said 6-6 before, now, since the spring game showed to me that howard is a bust, i say maybe a 5-7 record is more likely.

  • FNP

    I think everybody is underestimating this team this year. They were 4-8 last year with a HUGE QB debacle, young D, and a very young offense. If you look a the games last year, we should've beat Oklahoma, Texas, Tech, Iowa State and Kansas. We were in the K-State game until the wheels fell off.

    We will be much better this year and I look at us winning 7-8 with possibly picking up 1 more win. The run game will really open up the passing game and we're gonna have killer speed and size on both sides of the ball. I'm looking forward to 2014! Lets Go EERS!!!

    • mad hatter

      should have , could have,,,, all i look at is the end result,,,a very bad football team

    • BB

      Alabama - L
      Towson - W
      @ Maryland - L
      Oklahoma - L
      Kansas - W
      @ Texas Tech - L
      Baylor - L
      @ Oklahoma St. - L
      TCU - W
      @ Texas - L
      Kansas St - L
      @ Iowa St. - L

      3-9. They are terrible.

      • FNP

        Bama - L (but i think it will be close)
        Towson - W
        Maryland - W
        Oklahoma - L
        Kansas - W
        Tech - W
        Baylor - L
        Okie St. - W
        TCU - W
        Texas - L
        K-State - W
        Iowa St. - W

        • BB

          Wins AT Maryland, Tech, AND OSU? Keep dreaming.

          • FNP

            You have your predictions and I have mine. We'll see what happens.

          • Rich

            Maryland is always overrated. They are usually the "swing" game for WVU. If we beat them we usually go bowling, lose to them and we stay home. they are the difference between going 6-6 and 5-7 next year.

      • J the C

        Wow, you're sad. Oliver should put you on the coaching staff, since you know so much...not!

        • BB

          All the teams that owned us last year were fairly young as well. It isn't like they aren't going to be improved.

          You trust this team to win road games at TT, Texas, and OSU? I sure don't. OU and Alabama are two of the most talented teams in the country. Those are L's. Bill Snyder is one of the best coaches in America...Holgorsen isn't outcoaching him. K-State is an L. Baylor has averaged 68 points in two games against us. You trust Trickett or our band of D2 back up QB's in a shootout? I sure don't. That's seven almost certain losses.

          If you think this team is going bowling, you're crazy. Hopefully OL won't let his pride get in the way of canning this horrendous coaching staff after the season.

          • Billy

            And that is not taking injuries into account. One could guess there will be some in the first game. Every one should agree that Alabama is a superior opponent, and usually injuries happen more on the weaker team.

  • Hop'sHip

    I thought I heard Greg Hunter reporting that Rose was being moved to nose, allowing Brown to move to tackle where his size and athleticism were a better fit. We really need these guys to stay healthy and to improve greatly for the defensive unit to achieve some measure of success. Is there any JC reinforcements arriving this summer? And is the coaching staff concerned that Alabama may have a spy here posing as a sports writer?

    • Dave

      Come to think of it, I did notice seeing Allan Taylor wearing a S.E.C. toboggan the other day during his interview with Coach Randy Mazey.

    • Yogi Wahoo

      Dude you have exposed the whole thing.....Saban was working inside for us....but you've blown the cover.......thanks Gomer Hip

      • Hop'sHip

        You're welcome yahoo Wahoo! Saban? Not sure I follow your thinking but pretty sure I don't want to. I was hoping someone could answer my question on whether WVU is adding any JCs along the dline this summer, but i doubt you are the one to do so.