The 2019 West Virginia college football season is just around the corner. Since the Mountain State doesn’t have a professional team, the West Virginia University Mountaineers take precedence.
The boys from Morgantown are heading into the new season coming off a fairly successful year. They finished 2018 with an 8-4 record overall and 6-3 in the Big 12 Conference.
After starting the season 8-1 and being ranked as high as 9th in the nation, the Mountaineers lost their final three games, including the Camping World Bowl to Syracuse.
Things will not get any easier for WVU this season. Their conference is stacked once again and the team heads into the new year with new faces at both starting quarterback and head coach.
Nevertheless, NCAA college football in West Virginia is less than two months away and the excitement is building around the state.
Let’s take a deeper look into the upcoming 2019 WVU football season and examine how the Mountaineers will fare this year.
The two most important pieces of any football team might just be the head coach and quarterback. When a program enters a season with replacements at both positions, there are going to be some struggles.
With both Dana Holgorsen and Will Grier no longer in the gold and blue, the Mountaineers must turn to new leadership this year.
Neal Brown enters as head coach coming off three-straight 10 win seasons at Troy.
So far, so good for the new coach. Despite the loss of several major playmakers, the Mountaineers and their fan base are optimistic to start the year.
In fact, nearly 19,000 fans filled Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium for the team’s spring game. That’s the third-highest attendance for a spring game at WVU.
Mountaineers offensive outlook
The Mountaineers will need more than optimism on the field, though.
Here, they’ll look to Oklahoma-transfer quarterback Austin Kendall. The 6’2” quarterback comes to Morgantown with two years of eligibility remaining after not seeing much playing time in Norman.
WVU fans can thank coach Brown already for finding Grier’s potential replacement so quickly. Brown recruited Kendall out of high school while he was an assistant coach at Kentucky.
Kendall hasn’t completely solidified the starting job, yet. Jack Allison, another transfer from Miami, has held his own thus far. There’s been no decision about who the opening game starter will be.
The positive news is that whoever lines up at quarterback will have sufficient help in the backfield. The Mountaineers enter 2019 with several promising options at the running back position.
Seniors Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway lead a group that will be heavily relied on. The two combined for almost 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground last year. Sophomores Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield will also see plenty of touches.
The running backs will have to impress, as the offensive line isn’t the strongest this year. The unit lost left tackle Yodny Cajuste to the NFL when the New England Patriots selected him in the third round.
The offense will have to be creative in the passing game as well. WVU lost its two leading receivers in David Sills V and Gary Jennings Jr. The two leave some big shoes to fill as they combined for 28 touchdowns a season ago.
T.J. Simmons will have a much larger role in 2019. He only recorded 22 receptions last year.
WVU on defense
Unfortunately for WVU, the defense has a lot of questions, too. With Holgorsen gone, the Mountaineers will have a new look in terms of scheme and formations across the board.
Along with coaching, a lot of personnel will be different as well. All-Big 12 safety Kenny Robinson Jr. recently decided to transfer following a season in which he tied for the lead in interceptions and was second on the team in tackles.
The Mountaineers’ leader in tackles, David Long Jr., is also gone. He was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the sixth round.
WVU will look to some new transfers to inject a boost into a defense that ranked only 74th in total defense in 2018.
One player the coaching staff will look to is Taijh Alston. The defensive end transferred from East Carolina and is looking like someone who can make a difference early on.
According to the WV MetroNews, defensive line coach Jordan Lesley is expecting a lot from Alston:
“He has to be a guy that shows up for us. He has to be.”
Other players who should provide an impact are linebackers Josh Chandler and JoVanni Stewart. Stewart had 48 tackles and three sacks last season.
The secondary returns guys like Josh Norwood and Keith Washington. Norwood led the Mountaineers in pass deflections in 2018 with 10, while Washington was second with seven.
2019 WVU football schedule
- Aug. 31 – James Madison
- Sept. 7 – at Missouri
- Sept. 14 – NC State
- Sept. 21 – at Kansas
- Oct. 5 – Texas
- Oct. 12 – Iowa State
- Oct. 19 – at Oklahoma
- Oct. 31 – at Baylor
- Nov. 9 – Texas Tech
- Nov. 16 – at Kansas State
- Nov. 23 – Oklahoma State
- Nov. 29 – at TCU
Betting on WVU Mountaineer football
Even though it has been slow lately, sports betting should pick up significantly in the coming weeks as NCAA football approaches.
WV residents love their college football and will be sure to take advantage of some of the more favorable odds for the Mountaineers this season.
It’s obviously very difficult to tell what type of season the new-look Mountaineers will have this year. The team has plenty of talent but also lost a lot of good contributors from a year ago.
Even in a very competitive Big 12, WVU has the chance to win six or more games and qualify for another bowl game.
At the moment, there are three active land-based sportsbooks. They include:
Both Wheeling Island Sportsbook and Mardi Gras Sportsbook are still sitting out as the sportsbooks search for new betting partners. It’s possible that they could open their betting windows again by time football begins, but it appears unlikely.
The more probable outcome is at least one WV sports betting app launches bringing online betting back to the Mountain State. WV has been without an online option since March.
The online sportsbooks set to launch in WV include:
Here are some of the Mountaineers’ odds as they head into the season according to DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey:
- WVU +12500
Big 12 Champion
- WVU +2000
- Over 5.5 +100
- Under 5.5 -121