EDITOR'S NOTE - This is the last of the eight team previews leading up to the 2011 football season. The previews were to be released in reverse order of the preseason poll.
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WVU' 2011 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Dana Holgorsen makes his head coaching debut with West Virginia this season after spending the last six seasons as an offensive coordinator at the Bowl Subdivision level.
West Virginia has finished no lower than second place in the BIG EAST in nine consecutive seasons.
The Mountaineers have won or shared the BIG EAST title five times in the last eight years. West Virginia tied Connecticut and Pittsburgh for the title last year.
West Virginia was 0-4 when it was held to 14 points or fewer and 9-0 when it scored more than 14 points last season.
West Virginia is one of just four schools (along with Boise State, Ohio State and Virginia Tech) that has won at least nine games in each of the last six years.
In six years as a Bowl Subdivision offensive coordinator, Dana Holgorsen’s teams averaged 521 yards per game. His Oklahoma State offense averaged 520.2 yards and 44.2 points per game in 2010.
QB Geno Smith led the BIG EAST in pass efficiency (144.7) in 2010. Smith threw for 2,763 yards and 24 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 2010.
WR Tavon Austin ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in receptions last year (4.5 per game) and had eight touchdown catches.
The biggest loss on offense comes with the departure of Noel Devine, who finished fourth on the BIG EAST’s career rushing chart (4,317 yards) and had 19 career 100-yard games.
The Mountaineers ranked among the top defensive teams in the nation last year, limiting opponents to just 13.5 points per game, but return just four starters from that unit.
West Virginia ranked No. 2 nationally in sacks, rushing defense and third-down defense and was No. 3 in scoring and total defense.
The Mountaineers return just one starter on the defensive line (DT Julian Miller) and at linebacker (LB Najee Goode).
All-BIG EAST First Team CB Keith Tandy, who led the conference with six interceptions last season, joins S Terence Garvin as returning players in the secondary.
K Tyler Bitancurt earned All-BIG EAST First Team honors in 2009 and was 10-of-17 in field goal tries in 2010. Corey Smith is expected to take over as the regular punter, marking the fourth straight year that WVU will have a new punter.