West Virginia Football: 3 Things to Be Excited About in 2012
The West Virginia Mountaineers were the team to beat during their time in the Big East.
They were the big fish in a small pond.
With the Mountaineers moving to the Big XII for the 2012 football season, this all changes.
West Virginia will face national powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas every year instead of UConn and Cincinnati.
After what we saw the Mountaineers do to the Clemson Tigers in last year's Fed Ex Orange Bowl, all signs point towards the transition into the high-scoring Big XII to be smooth sailing.
Here are the top three reasons why West Virginia fans should be excited for their first year in the Big XII.
Geno Smith is a legitimate Heisman candidate in 2012. If he posts big numbers early in the season, he could very quickly become the favorite.
After witnessing the massacre of Clemson to end the Mountaineer's 2011 season, it's hard to wait and see what they can do in the Big XII.
Their new conference will be more challenging than the Big East, but defense has not been a staple in the Big XII for several years.
Bettering his 4,385-yard passing performance in 2011 will be no small task, but West Virginia returns every offensive playmaker from last season.
There are a couple holes along the front line to be patched up before fall, but he could easily turn into one of the best quarterbacks in one of the best offenses in 2012.
Tavon Austin emerged as Smith's go-to man at receiver.
Austin hauled in 101 receptions for almost 1,200 yards last year.
He also ended on a monster game against Clemson, catching 12 passes for 123 yards and four touchdowns.
The playmaker doesn't stop there.
Austin has slowly progressed as a threat to run the ball.
He notched a defense-breaking 11.4 yards per rush last year which included an 80-yarder against Rutgers.
Austin is primed to further breakout as one of college football's most electrifying playmakers in 2012.
Dana Holgorsen established himself as one of the more innovative offensive minds in 2011.
His career under offensive wizards Mike Leach and Kevin Sumlin is beginning to pay dividends.
The Mountaineers were ranked fifth in total passing yards and 17th in total offense in Holgorsen's first year on the job.
That is with only two months to prepare for the season, as Holgorsen was officially named head coach on June 10 of last year.
With a full year to recruit, a full offseason and the entire offense returning, the 2012 Mountaineer offense might make an SEC defense tremble in its boots.
Maybe a little bit.