EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of eight team previews that will be launched this week on BIGEAST.org. The order of release will coincide with the order of this year's preseason poll.
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West Virginia has finished no lower than second in the BIG EAST standings in every year since 2002.
The Mountaineers face three first-time opponents in their first five games of the 2010 season (Coastal Carolina, Louisiana State, UNLV).
West Virginia has had at least nine wins in each of the last five years. The Mountaineers were 7-0 at Milan Puskar Stadium for their first unbeaten season at home since 1993.
West Virginia has won 67 games in the last seven years, good for 12th among Bowl Subdivision programs.
RB Noel Devine was a unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team selection last year and was a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top running back. Devine ran for 1,465 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2009.
WR Jock Sanders finished last year with 1,037 all-purpose yards (688 receiving, 175 rushing, 174 punt return).
West Virginia has four starters back from last year’s offensive line. All four returning starters played at least 839 of the offense’s 855 total plays last year.
QB Geno Smith, who appeared in five games last season, is expected to take over as the starting quarterback.
LB J.T. Thomas, CB Brandon Hogan and S Robert Sands are returning All-BIG EAST First Team selections on the Mountaineer defense.
The Mountaineers return all three starters on the defensive line in DE Julian Miller, NT Chris Neild and DT Scooter Berry.
West Virginia returns two of last year’s three starters at linebacker and four of the five starters in the secondary.
The top three leading tacklers from last year return. Thomas (76 tackles) and Hogan (74 tackles) trailed LB Pat Lazear (78 tackles).
K Tyler Bitancurt earned All-BIG EAST First Team honors last year in his first season as the Mountaineers’ regular kicker. Bitancurt made 13 of 15 field goal attempts in his freshman season.
West Virginia will look to senior Greg Pugnetti or Alabama transfer Corey Smith to take over as the regular punter.
|From the BIG EAST Newsstand
|"When West Virginia played football at South Florida last fall, cornerback Brandon Hogan was sure he'd done everything right in order to intercept a pass. The Bulls had a first down at WVU's 15-yard line late in the first half and quarterback B.J. Daniels rolled right and threw to receiver Dontavia Bogan."
WVU's Sands comes up big -Charleston Daily-Mail
"For the most part, the hard hitting West Virginia's football team does in practice is pretty much over. Only three real workouts remain prior to Saturday's opener against Coastal Carolina, and in only one of those will there be considerable head-banging."
For White, move to WR has been a pain - Charleston Gazette