Revisiting WVU’s preseason over/unders

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Before the first coach hollered at a player during preseason practice, we pitched some over/unders for West Virginia’s football season. At the midpoint of the regular season, let’s check back on where those stand:

5.5 wins: The shellacking at Maryland made a bowl trip look dubious, before the upset of Oklahoma State restored WVU’s hopes. Assuming the Mountaineers defeat Iowa State and Kansas, they can reach the six-win plateau by getting one more against the not-so-daunting gauntlet of Texas Tech, Texas, TCU or Kansas State. I like those odds. (Midseason guess: OVER)

Charles Sims has 19 catches through six games, tying him for the WVU team lead.

207 yards for Andrew Buie against Texas: The junior running back withdrew from school the week before the season opener, though coach Dana Holgorsen called it a redshirt situation and expected Buie to return for spring semester. (Midseason guess: UNDER)

78 catches for WVU’s leading receiver: Not even close. Daikiel Shorts and Charles Sims share the team lead with a mere 19 catches. (Midseason guess: UNDER)

2.5 catches for Cody Clay: With six catches for 47 yards, Clay has emerged as a reliable target in the short-yardage passing game. (Midseason result: OVER)

2.5 ejections for targeting: If you bet on reserve offensive lineman Adam Pankey in the office targeting pool, that’s some wicked foresight. So far, he’s the only Mountaineer to be banished under the zero-tolerance player-safety guidelines, though defensive backs Darwin Cook and Travis Bell saw disqualifications reversed by replay. (Weren’t we all anticipating this to be Karl Joseph’s kryptonite?) Something tells me after the way Baylor carved up WVU, the defense will play with a nastier disposition that could lead to more DQs. (Midseason guess: OVER)

3,500 passing yards by WVU’s starting quarterback: Wait, does WVU have a starting quarterback? (Midseason guess: UNDER)

30.3 points allowed per game: After the 73-point barrage suffered at Baylor, WVU slipped to ninth in the Big 12 in scoring defense at 28.5 ppg. As ineffective as this unit looked in Waco, it’s still 10 points ahead of 2012’s pace. Not exactly a chest-thumping metric of progress, but progress nonethless. (Midseason guess: UNDER)

8th in Big 12 net punting: Currently No. 2 in the league at 42.1 yards net, this category looks like a slam dunk, with Nick O’Toole consistently launching moonshots and coverage guys tackling well. Good thing, because WVU’s 6.3 punts per game are third-most in the Big 12, ahead of only Kansas and Iowa State. (Midseason guess: UNDER)

3.5 cornerbacks to start a game: Icky Banks and Bell have avoided injury and breakdowns. They’re not shutdown corners by any stretch, but they have brought some stability to spots that were dysfunctional in 2012. (Midseason guess: UNDER)

2 recruits who fail to qualify: In what was celebrated as a rare success, all of West Virginia’s signees qualified. However, junior college defensive end d’Vante Henry never suited up and was dismissed in early September after being charged with sexual assault. (Midseason result: UNDER)

35 fourth-down gambles by Holgorsen: With only nine fourth-down attempts, Holgorsen is well shy of last year’s pace. He hasn’t lost his nerve so much as WVU’s offense hasn’t crossed midfield as frequently. (Midseason guess: UNDER)

.5 appearances by WVU’s all-gold uniforms: According to one teammate, 335-pound Quinton Spain dressed in head-to-toe canary “looked like Big Bird.” But that was the same day WVU knocked off Oklahoma State, so there’s no need to play Oscar the Grouch about West Virginia’s worst uni combo. (Midseason result: OVER)

Will Clarke and the West Virginia defense have made distinct strides despite allowing 73 points at Baylor.




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