The Big XII Conference officially welcomed West Virginia with open arms last July after the Mountaineers bolted from the Big East Conference, never looking back. We took a liking real quick to the West Virginia guys at eerinsider.com, who began interacting on Twitter with Big XII sites and fans long before the WVU deal was anywhere close to being finalized. The Mountaineers as a team are peaking, as is indicative of the huge win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl last year. Big XII Nation is wondering what to expect from Dana Holgorsen’s team, so we decided to ask the guys at eerinsider.com what West Virginia football is all about. I sat down with Jon and Jerry from eerinsider.com to get the scoop on football, food and Morgantown.
How hyped is Mountaineer Nation about joining the Big 12?
West Virginia fans are extremely excited. For a while now, the Mountaineers have fielded a strong, nationally competitive football team. Yet, the questions always remained how good they actually were because of the competition in the Big East. I think West Virginians as a whole are looking forward to the challenge, and earning the respect they’ve felt they deserved.
West Virginia’s spring game took place last weekend. How satisfied are you guys with the way things looked?
I think the Gold-Blue game went about as well as expected. The offense, while struggling with a few turnovers, did its usual thing. They managed 600 yards of total offense. The biggest question mark coming into the 2012 season will be the defense. The ‘Eers have completely overhauled the unit. They have new coaches, a new scheme, and will feature plenty of youth. While only a glorified practice, the spring game showed the defense very active, forcing turnovers, and very athletic. That’s a welcome sign for the upcoming season.
The Mountaineers return QB Geno Smith, arguably the best in the Big 12. Who are some other play-makers on the team we should look out for?
QB’s are only as talented as the players surrounding them, and that’s certainly the case for this team. West Virginia returns two of the best wide receivers in the country, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Austin, who primarily plays slot, is also featured in the backfield and returning kicks. The lightning fast play-maker is known for making defenders miss in the open field. Bailey, a former high school teammate of Smith’s, showcases his talent stretching the field. Most often he’s catching the deep ball, after beating his man off the line of scrimmage. Both players had over 1,000 yards receiving last year and combined for 20 touchdowns. They also return running back Dustin Garrison, who rushed for over 700 yards last season as a true freshmen, while splitting duties in the backfield.
Last season in the Orange Bowl West Virginia destroyed Clemson 70-33. How huge was that win in terms of carry-over to what will ultimately be the first West Virginia season in the Big XII Conference?
I think in reality you see it everyday. WVU has been all over college football magazine covers, ESPN, picked to finish high in the Big 12 and some have WVU winning it. They have a Heisman contender in Geno Smith, they have coaches that have Big 12 ties that understand league play. Huge difference compared to the attention received while in the Big East. But that also shows the respect that Big 12 Conference has earned. This team is different compared to years past. They have that look of confidence, and I think they are ready for the challenge.
For fans that have never watched a college football game in Morgantown, what can they expect?
They can expect a loud and passionate fan base. The stadium will be filled with Gold and Blue and the team will lay it in the line. When you get 60,000+ rockin, the stadium is electric. But if Big 12 fans want an idea, check out highlights of last season’s game against LSU. Of course you had College Gameday and an ABC audience. With no pro team here, WVU is the state flagship school. So fans are very passionate about their Mountaineers.
Give us a few must-visit places to eat and drink in Morgantown?
You have Applebee’s and all the steakhouse’s you want, but two places that are a must are Kegler’s and the Varsity Club. These are the places fans go for their pre and post- game, not to mention, some of the best wings and beer prices you can find. For fans coming in from out of town, you can’t beat the price either. Another can’t miss while in Morgantown, tailgating. Nothing like tailgating with the Mountaineer Nation. Be sure to stop in and say hello while walking into the stadium.
We look forward to great times on the football field and in the stands with Mountaineer nation and we cordially welcome you to the Big XII. Follow the guys at eerinsider.com on Twitter at
@JonathanKMartin and @TheDeuceWVU.
Still not excited about the Mountaineers? Check out the the video below.