A win away from home against a Big 12 contender would go a long way toward putting UT’s 2017 in the rear view.

Jeremy Pruitt has his work cut out for him. His Vols had a tumultuous offseason and a lackluster spring game that concluded with Pruitt questioning the mettle of his players and fans.

Things won’t get easier in Week 1, when West Virginia meets Tennessee in Charlotte.

The Mountaineers are one of the more interesting non-bluebloods in 2018. A year ago, they were 7-3, with close losses to Virginia Tech and TCU, when starting QB Will Grier broke his finger early against Texas. The Mountaineers went on to drop that game, their season finale against OU, and their bowl against Utah.

Now Grier returns — Tennessee fans might remember him from that time in 2015 when he hit a game-winning TD against the Vols — and the Mountaineers also return receivers Gary Jennings (1,096 yards) and David Sills (18 TDs). The OL returns four starters, including both tackles, and new top RB Kennedy McKoy ran 125 times for 576 yards. There’s talk that WVU could use this returning firepower to win a Big 12 that no longer includes Baker Mayfield or Mason Rudolph, though the numbers aren’t as high on the Eers as the humans are.

Dana Holgorsen has yet to prove WVU’s skilled offense and unorthodox defense can reliably beat teams with high-level talent. A win against the talented (if turbulent) Vols would be a big step.

West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defense can be tricky to attack, particularly for a new offense with a young QB.

The Mountaineers like to play traditional defenses like a 4-3 over front with nickel personnel and cover 3 with an eight-man front, but they get …read more

Source:: SBNation


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