Preseason polls not accurate

One of the biggest problems that I have with preseason polls is that they are mostly based on last year’s results.

That’s why I wasn’t overly surprised when the media that regularly cover football in the Big 12 Conference picked Dana Holgorsen’s WVU Mountaineers to finish eighth in the 10-team league.

Why would anyone pick them to finish higher?

Holgorsen’s fourth squad lost its top offensive weapon-Charles Sims-returns a starting quarterback that spent more time fighting through injuries than preparing for upcoming opponents and a defense that surrendered points and yards in record numbers during WVU’s 4-8 campaign.

Believe it or not, however, there may be a silver lining that those who vote on preseason polls may not be seeing.

The 2014 edition of the old gold and blue, at least on paper, appear to have more depth than any of its three predecessors under Holgorsen. Despite the apparent loss of sophomore running back Wendell Smallwood, who looks to be spending much of his next few months in a court room, the position appears to be stable with the return of Dreamius Smith, Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie and the addition of former-Pittsburgh running back Rushel Shell.

Yes, questions still surround the quarterback, offensive line and receiver positions. But, a healthy Clint Trickett combined with some solid relief from Skylar Howard and Paul Millard will answer one of those while Parkersburg South graduate Ron Crook has proven that he can develop solid offensive linemen at Harvard and Stanford so it would not be a stretch to believe that he can’t accomplish the same feat in Morgantown.

As far as receivers, this unit may not possess a Tavon Austin or a Stedman Bailey, but Kevin White, Daikiel Shorts and Mario Alford are a year old and the addition of Sheldon Gibson can only improve the productivity of the group.

Defensively, Holgorsen will have his fourth coordinator in his fourth season. That’s not a good situation any time. But, former-Van High School standout Tony Gibson has shown the enthusiasm required to address the problems that resulted in WVU surrendering 33.3 points per game.

The unit has depth, especially at linebacker and in the secondary, and the addition of veteran Penn State assistant can only help in keeping things calm on the sidelines when teams like Baylor come to Mountaineer Field with its high-powered attack.

Will all of that be enough?

The pollsters say no. But, just how many of those same preseason polls had Jimbo Fisher’s Florida State Seminoles playing for the national title against an Auburn team that went 3-9 the previous season and 0-8 in SEC play?

Reasons to believe that this year’s crop of early season predictions are about as trustworthy as an overused helmet.

While preseason polls give us lots to read, and talk, about in the days, weeks and months leading up to the season. They are worth less than the paper on which they are written.

Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com