I feel bad writing a cautionary piece, seeing as how the cake has only just been cut in celebration of West Virginia's official entrance into the Big 12 conference. It's a time for jubilation, a time for looking westward towards everything that is so unfamiliar and so filled with potential.
It's also a time to dig in.
Dana Holgorsen travels back to his roots this fall commanding an offensive arsenal as good as any in college football. No one is arguing that.
But despite the kilotons of air raid power West Virginia boasts heading into 2012, the Mountaineers' defense will still need to take the field.
Expect lots of question marks to follow them out onto the turf.
While there are a few experienced players returning to assume leadership roles, losing stalwarts Julian Miller, Keith Tandy and Najee Goode hurts. Losing a superstar like Bruce Irvin hurts even more.
The Big 12 is a war ground of offenses pitched in continuous battle. As such, this Mountaineers defense will be relying on several players for their poise, experience and all-around talent to help march them through the deluge of an inaugural Big 12 conference schedule.
These are the five players the West Virginia defense will be depending on most come the 2012 season.