WVU nowhere on radar

Preseason rankings.. You’ve got to love them.

A year ago every magazine that went to print had the Mountaineers of then-second year head coach Dana Holgorsen ranked among the country’s Top 25 (many in the Top 10) and a sure bet to be in the thick of the race for the Big 12 title in WVU’s first season in the conference.

Now, you’d be hard pressed to find any of them select the old gold and blue to finish in the top half of the Big 12.

Fair or unfair doesn’t really matter. The only thing that will change any voter’s mind will be a Mountaineer team that shows marked improvement on the defensive side of the football and one that find adequate replacements for the team’s four biggest offensive losses – quarterback Geno Smith, running back Shawne Alston and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

The most recent publications to take their shots at WVU are Athlon and Lindy’s which picked the Mountaineers to finish eighth and ninth, respectively, in conference play.

Both had the Big 12’s newest member finishing ahead of Kansas while Athlon believes that the old gold and blue will place ahead of both KU and Iowa State.

But, instead of getting upset, fans should be thankful as the low rankings may just very well be the medicine Holgorsen and his staff will need to push this year’s unit.

No one likes losing. Especially when you have played for a program that has had a measured amount of success over the past decade.

Regardless of where they were ranked when they were recruited, the 2013 edition at West Virginia does have some solid athletes. The addition of former-Florida State quarterback Clint Trickett and the return of wide receiver Ivan McCarty can only add to that list. And, there are some possible game-changers that won’t be on campus until later this summer or not until preseason camp opens in August.

But, then again, aren’t preseason rankings supposed to cause discussion and motivation?

You can’t find a website that isn’t talking about where the Mountaineers are being picked by the so-called experts. And you can bet your house that Holgorsen is using the low rankings to motivate his players during the summer as they go through conditioning drills with Mike Joseph and his staff.

While the likelihood of this year’s team challenging for a Big 12 title is slim (at the best), it goes without saying that there is still enough talent remaining in the closet to keep it out of the cellar.

A healthy Dustin Garrison as well as the return of Andrew Buie running behind an offensive front headed by new offensive line coach Ron Crook and a renewed commitment by Holgorsen to feature the run more in 2013 can only help take some of the pressure off of a defense that will still suffer through the growing pains that come with a new coaching staff.

Should that prevent unit and the passing game show greater-than-expected improvements, then Mountaineer fans will again go bowling over the holidays.