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2021 WVU college football preview: The rebuild in Morgantown continues

West Virginia has made great strides defensively, but will need to score more in 2021.

DEC 31 AutoZone Liberty Bowl - Army v West Virginia

When the West Virginia Mountaineers hired Neal Brown from Troy, they knew they were starting over. The high-flying offenses of Dana Holgorsen were off to Houston, and while Brown came from the offensive side of the ball, he wasn’t there to Air Raid the ball everywhere. This was a rebuild that was going to take time.

2021 will be Year 3 for Brown, who won his fourth career bowl game in the Mountaineers 24-21 victory over Army last season. WVU went from 5-7 to 6-4 last year, but will have a challenging schedule to build on that improvement this season. They’ll open with Maryland, and will face Virginia Tech in Week 3, renewing an old rivalry with the Hokies at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Brown had a 4-8 team his first season at Troy, and left with a conference title and 11-2 and 10-3 marks his last two years. The defense last year appeared ahead of schedule, but they’ll need to improve offensively to continue to take steps forward in a Morgantown rebuild of 2021.

2020 Season Review

  • 6-4, 4-4 Big 12, beat Army 24-21 in Liberty Bowl
  • Did not play a regular season game after November 14th

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 40th
ESPN Returning Production: 81% overall (19th): 82% offense (32nd), 81% defense (29th)
Returning Talent Index: Positive, 3rd in Big 12
Returning starters: 6/11 offense, 8/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Jarret Doege (Senior)

Solid if not spectacular, the Bowling Green transfer had 2,587 yards passing last year on a 6.9 YPA and 14 touchdowns with four interceptions. He’s not much of a run threat, but has played in 33 college games already, and technically still has another year of eligibility after 2021.

Offense (non-QB): RB Leddie Brown (Senior)

Brown had 1,010 on the ground via 199 carries last season with nine touchdowns, and caught 31 passes for 202 yards and two more scores. He should be the workhorse of the offense and get as much action as he can handle.

Defense: S Alonzo Addae (Redshirt Senior)

The New Hampshire transfer had 66 tackles last season with two interceptions, but there are losses on this side of the ball. Darius Stills is lost from up front, and All-American Tykee Smith is off to Georgia.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 38th overall: 72nd offense, 17th defense, 70th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 34th overall: 67th offense, 11th defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +25000
To win Big 12: +2200
Win total: 6.5 (Over -141, Under +110)

2020 Against The Spread: 6-4
2020 Point Total: Over 5-4-1

2021 WVU Schedule

2021 West Virginia Mountaineers Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Saturday, Sep. 4 at Maryland 7:00 p.m./ESPN N/A
Saturday, Sep. 11 vs. LIU 7:00 p.m./ESPN+ N/A
Saturday, Sep. 18 vs. Virginia Tech 7:00 p.m./ESPN+ N/A
Saturday, Sep. 25 at Oklahoma TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 vs. Texas Tech TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 at Baylor TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 16 BYE TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 23 at TCU TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 30 vs. Iowa State TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 6 vs. Oklahoma State TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 13 at Kansas State TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 20 vs. Texas TBA WVU +2.5
Saturday, Nov. 27 at Kansas TBA N/A