With spring practice comes the opportunity for improvement. The Mountaineers ended 2019 on a high-note, but left it with much to be desired. Over the next seven weeks, it will be interesting to watch for improvements in these 3 specific areas. Here are the areas for the Mountaineers where improvement is a must:
- Avoiding Negative 1st Down Plays: Constantly throughout the 2019 season, the Mountaineers would gain momentum on offense just for it to be taken away with negative yardage on first down. This was primarily due to poor offensive line play hindering the running game. For West Virginia to improve on offense, better play as well as better play-calling on early downs is a must. Keep an eye out for changes that Neal Brown could possibly have made when it comes to the sequence of play-calling on early downs.
- Field Goal Accuracy: While it was by no means a terrible year for Evan Staley, his previous career field goal percentage of 81.4% took a significant hit. The Romney, West Virginia native finished his junior season hitting 11 of 17 field goals, a made percentage of 64.7%. There are undoubtedly worse kicking situations around the country, but this is a stat that could help the Mountaineers prevail in tight games if improved. Look for Staley to clean up his sloppy kicking efforts in 2019 with a strong spring session.
- Red Zone Defense: West Virginia’s red zone defense was among the worst in the conference in 2019. When teams would make it inside the 20 against the Mountaineers, points were almost a guarantee. Teams scored on 42 of 47 red zone trips against WVU, a miserable 89.3% for Koenning’s unit. With 30 of those 42 scores being touchdowns, it was simply a season that side of the ball wants to forget. If this area is to be cleaned up, West Virginia will make huge strides on the defensive side of the ball. Look for this to be an area of attention with the great minds of Neal Brown and Vic Koenning working together.