Ever since West Virginia University played its spring football game on Saturday, I keep getting asked the same question, "How are the Mountaineers going to be this fall?''
Actually, that's the most frequent question I get asked from the time one football season ends until the next one begins.
But it's obvious the spring game put Mountaineer football first and foremost in the minds of those that otherwise were occupying their sports time with Major League Baseball or some other ongoing endeavour.
There's no way I would ever judge a football team based on its spring game. Rather, until a team plays its first game, the best method for determining its level of success is to evaluate its returning talent level, keeping an eye on any newcomers that might help and then trying to measure it up against the 12 teams it will meet come fall. Talk about an inexact science.
Yet, it's one in which virtually every sports fan participates. It's what we do. So, let's do it.
I don't know how any West Virginia University fan can't be excited about the upcoming season.
Not only are the Mountaineers coming off an impressive 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, but WVU returns its three biggest offensive weapons, quarterback Geno Smith and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Plus, it will be their second year of running coach Dana Holgorsen's wide-open offense so rather than having to learn it they will be able to spend time perfecting it.
The biggest question mark on offense -really the only one -is who is going to run the ball? There are several options - Dustin Garrison, Andrew Buie, and Shawne Alston among them. Who will emerge remains to be seen but if that is the only major concern, don't be too concerned.
The offensive line should be fine. It was last year and now it is getting back the services of three-year starter Josh Jenkins.
Jenkins looked good in the spring game. His mobility was there. Getting back Jenkins is a major plus.
On to the defense, which has new coaches installing a new system and a new philosophy. West Virginia is going to attempt to be more aggressive so it can create more turnovers. The Mountaineers know their defense doesn't have to win the game. Its job is not to lose it. If it can get the offense two or three more possessions a game, that would be a major plus.
The front looks a little thin, but that's not a fatal flaw that will doom WVU.
The kicking game -with all of last year's major players returning -won't be spectacular, but will be solid.
The biggest mystery is how WVU will match up with its Big 12 opponents and how it will handle the rigors of playing a quality foe virtually every week once conference play begins.
Back to the original question, West Virginia is going to be better than last year.
How many victories that will glean the Mountaineers is, as they about those close political races, too early to call.