The West Virginia Mountaineers finished the 2011 regular season with a bang.
A 70-33 blowout victory over the Clemson Tigers.
Now Dana Holgorsen and his squad are off to greener pastures, leaving the Big East for the Big 12. After such a strong ending to 2011 and much of the offense returning for this season, 2012 looks to be a successful campaign.
But the Mountaineers aren't perfect. For Holgorsen and company to compete for the Big 12 title, these three areas must be addressed.
Without solid offensive line play, even the most potent offensive playmakers are reduced to nothing.
The Mountaineers lose Don Barclay and Tyler Radar up front, both of whom were important pieces last season.
Patching these holes are extremely important for the West Virginia spread to have success in 2012. As we saw in the 2010 BCS National Championship game, penetration by the defensive line stops the spread attack dead in its tracks.
Dana Holgorsen reeled in a nice recruiting class including several offensive linemen, but there is still plenty of improvement needed before fall.
The West Virginia offense is what opens the eyes but for the team to have deep success in the Big 12, the defense will have to be solid.
The Mountaineers lost Najee Goode to the NFL. Goode was basically the only linebacker that really had an impact on defense.
The loss of Goode and the lack of production from the other linebackers is certainly concerning. After all, the offense can't get on the field if the other team is running all over the West Virginia defense, burning the clock.
Even more concerning is the fact that Goode is only one of the five talented defensive players that won't be returning in 2012.
Dana Holgorsen will have to pull off a miracle for the defense, specifically the linebackers, to not be a work in progress this season.
The month of November may not look too daunting at a glance, but upon a second look it could very well be a stretch that makes or breaks the 2012 season for the Mountaineers.
2012 West Virginia Schedule
Nov. 3, TCU Horned Frogs
Nov. 10, at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Nov. 17, Oklahoma Sooners
Nov. 24, at Iowa State Cyclones
TCU returns starting quarterback Casey Paschall from a successful 2011 outing. The Horned Frogs will also just be beginning their tenure in the Big 12. It will be a matchup of the "new kids on the block" and it shouldn't disappoint.
From an offensive standpoint, the Oklahoma State matchup could be one of the most exciting games of the year. Although the Cowboys lost Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon to the NFL, there are some talented players waiting to replace them. On top of that, a trip to Stillwater has always been a daunting task for any team.
The visit from Oklahoma on Nov. 17 is easily the biggest game of the year for the Mountaineers. If fans in Morgantown have any hopes of a Big 12 title, beating the Sooners is an absolute must. Quarterback and likely Heisman candidate, Landry Jones returns in good form, but Bob Stoops will have to find quality receivers for Jones to throw to.
Nobody will forget the Oklahoma State Cowboys losing at Jack Trice Stadium last year in dramatic fashion, ending their national championship aspirations. After what the Mountaineers will have to go through earlier in November, this has huge letdown potential.
Navigate November, and the Mountaineers may very well be on their way to winning their first Big 12 title, in only the first year in the conference.