(Photo by Ben Queen – USA Today)
The 2020 season is officially over. West Virginia finished with a 6-4 record in what was a difficult year for all due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though it is still nine months away, it is never too early to begin looking ahead to the 2021 season. However, before we get there, I have some thoughts on what exactly will take place this offseason at WVU leading up to the season opener on September 4th at Maryland.
Here are some storylines that I believe will transpire before the Mountaineers begin next season.
- Neal Brown commits to Jarret Doege before spring ball: This is the storyline that will likely ruffle the feathers of some fans. Though he was benched in the team’s 24-21 win over Army in the Liberty Bowl, Doege was still solid throughout much of 2020. He finished the season with 2,587 yards and 14 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. With the departure of Austin Kendall, he will have the most experience on the roster, which will give him a foot up on Garrett Greene and Will Crowder. Don’t be surprised when this news comes, but Doege will still be under center come September 4th, and the announcement will come sooner rather than later.
- Addae and Lesley become permanent co-defensive coordinators: It was unclear through 2020 who the true leader of WVU’s defense was. Jordan Lesley and Jahmile Addae were said to share responsibilities, but beyond that, who called plays was a mystery. Nonetheless, the Mountaineer defense was incredible all season, and for this, Addae and Lesley should and likely will become the permanent co-defensive coordinators. The two of them together have laid an outstanding foundation that can be built upon moving forward.
- Brown hires a big name assistant coach: Let me clarify what I mean by “big name” – no, this does not mean a name that is known nationwide, but rather in West Virginia. Clint Trickett, Doc Holliday, and Rich Rodriguez (yes, I know) are all looking for work, and I just can’t see Neal Brown passing up the opportunity to bring one aboard. They all have ties to WVU, and would be incredible recruiting tools for the program.
- A new kicker emerges: Evan Staley, Casey Legg, and Tyler Sumpter all shared time as WVU’s kicker this season. Between them, the three finished a combined 14 for 20 on attempts with a long of 45. They also connected on all 29 extra point attempts. However, none of them really did enough to get a strong hold on the position going into 2021 (Sumpter has yet to announce if he will return). Youngsters Danny King and Kolton McGhee have a solid background in kicking, and I fully expect one of them to emerge in the 2021 kicking battle. This will likely be most unexpected storyline to come out of this offseason, but it could certainly help the team down the line.
- There will be a change on the offensive staff: Yes, the Mountaineer offense improved in 2020, but there was still something holding them back. I’m not predicting for any offensive coach in particular to be moving on this offseason, but I certainly expect there to be some shakeup. Wherever this change comes, expect Brown to hire a massive upgrade in their place.