WVUinHopewell: Jenn - In your opinion how does WVU's depth along the defensive line look?
Jenn Menendez: Hi there. So far, it sounds like that is one of the biggest questions on the defense. Some experience for sure, but I'm as eager to see the depth as you are. Two freshmen and a redshirt freshman in there....so
WVU1867: Are the expectations for this season based to much on the bowl performance or do you believe the preseason ranking is legit?
Jenn Menendez: You know, I've thought a lot about that, and orginally thought they might be a little overrated because of that Orange Bowl.
We all saw they won some really close ones down the stretch..but more I've taken a deeper look at the Big 12 the offense will absolutely be among the best.
It's the defense we're all eager to see.
WVU1867: What game do you expect to be their first real challenge?
Jenn Menendez: I see the first road trip as the biggest challenge. Playing at Texas, in front of 100,000 plus is going to be difficult. I also predict they will be 4-0 heading into that game, which will put pressure on it.
Hey Jenn, which of the true freshmen do you think will make the biggest impact for the Mountaineers?
Jenn Menendez: I've written about him a bunch, but Jordan Thompson, without a doubt. The way the coaching staff has talked about him, it's hard to believe he's a true freshmen. He carries himself really well too, and seems to have the maturity beyond someone his age.
Andrew: Jenn, what's the latest on Dustin Garrison...I heard coach Holgorsen will start Alston, but when can we expect to see Dustin back in the #1 RB slot?
Jenn Menendez: My guess is that we don't see Garrison until, at the earliest, Sept. 22 against Maryland. There is not as much to gain, and way too much to lose to get him in there prematurely.
Shawne Alston is more than capable, and they've got some depth at that position, which wasn't really true a year ago.
WVUinHopewell: Noticed anything different in Dana Holgorsen from year one to year two?
Jenn Menendez: Hmmm...good question. I'd say he comes across a tiny bit more polished with the media. Though he's always been awfully comfortable saying what he thinks, he just sounds a little bit different this year.
G.T. Lynn: Do you think Ryan Clarke will see more action due to Garrison's recovery from the knee injury?
Jenn Menendez: I do. Ryan Clarke has been mentioned a lot by the coaching staff - both Holgorsen and RBs coach Robert Gillespie have mentioned him a bunch. He wasn't a ball carrier last year, but it sounds like they think he is more than capable.
Bige_2: Does Holgorsen scrpit the first series of plays? Does he give Gino the latitude to check off at the line?
Jenn Menendez: Another good question. And one I'll follow up on. I don't know how deeply he scripts the first plays, but I know that Geno always has a lot of options in this offense.
How about a score prediction for Saturday?
Jenn Menendez: Predictions. Sure. I think the offense will be very prepared and get some points on the board, but I also think Marshall will be able to score on this defense. On the fly here...but I'll go with 41-24 WVU.
Andrew: With Geno Smith being elected the pre-season offensive player of the year in the Big XII, who do you see giving him a run for his money elsewhere in the new look Big XII conference?
Jenn Menendez: Landry Jones at Oklahoma for sure. He is a talented kid and also a prolific passer.
PhilWVUNJ: How much improvement do you expect from WVU's OLine?
Jenn Menendez: A ton. I really believe depth was the biggest issue with this unit last year, and a lack of experience with a few players who were thrust in there. Just this week Holgorsen said they had eight legit players who can rotate in, and that is way up from an arguable five to start last year.
Which player on defense needs to and is capable of stepping up and having a breakout season?
Jenn Menendez: I think Terence Garvin. He moved from spur safety to the star linebacker position. We talked to him yesterday for the first time this preseason and he explained there are really barely any changes from his responsibilities...just different names for things. I think he could absolutely have a breakout year.
Thanks...you get to write about the best college team the postgazette covers.
Jenn Menendez: You are very welcome. Looking forward to the season for sure.
wv from pittsburgh: Do you think WV's rating as #11 in the polls will prove correct
Jenn Menendez: As in, by the season's end? I do. I think this team will have one of the best offenses in college football and if the defense was more of a sure bet, I'd push them into that top 10. But the defense is the big question really, so we'll see.
WVU1867: SI has them ranked #10
Jenn Menendez: Yeah I can see why. If things go as planned, or as they are hoped to go by the folks in Morgantown, they could certainly be a top-10 team.
Andrew: I saw the Mountaineers rolled out a new uniform, should we expect to see the new addition on Saturday?
Jenn Menendez: Not sure what uniform they're going to wear on Saturday. I know they let the players pick which combination they're going to wear, and kids like new things, so it's very possible.
PhilWVUNJ: Can we expect expect improved special teams play this season? How did the kickers/punters look in camp?
Jenn Menendez: Sounds like it. Tyler Bitancurt was pretty reliable down the stretch last year and is a year older, more mature. As I think you know, we don't see a ton of practice during preseason.
Not a fan of the all yellow uni's, I hope they locked them up in storage!
Jenn Menendez: Ha. I've heard that opinion before...
Do you think Joe DeForest will develop into a top-grade defensive coordinator?
Jenn Menendez: Have no reason to think he can't, but probably a little premature to call just yet.
On here for another few minutes. Thanks to everyone who participated. Feel free to shoot me an email with questions now and again, and join back on Thursday's at 2 p.m. here. My email: email@example.com
wv from pittsburgh: Are most of the home games sold out and do we get many tickets for away games
Jenn Menendez: Yes, all but one home game is sold out. I believe there are only a few hundred left for the Kansas game. At this rate your best bet is a third party retailer on the internet, something like StubHub. There will be a few returned by the road game in the weeks leading up to each game, but if you really want to be there, I wouldn't count on the numbers being very high.
Jenn Menendez: I have the number here somewhere for a number of tickets the Big 12 requires each team to let the road team sell. I can't find it right this second, but it's somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000.
Thanks Jenn..... and not a fan of the yellow uni's either
Mister Wu: Which player is the best to interview?
Jenn Menendez: Jordan Thompson is a breath of fresh air because he's very real. You can tell he's not planning out his sentence before he says it - and that's exactly what reporters want. But he's also an intelligent kid. Geno Smith is very good. Shawne Alston is very good. There's several actually.
PhilWVUNJ: understood - thought you were able to see some of the special teams portion of practice. Looking down the road - how do you see out of conference scheduling shaping up? Any chance Pitt gets back onto the slate?
Jenn Menendez: Sure. Both Holgorsen and Oliver Luck have said they'd like to see the Backyard Brawl come back. And I do think it will happen...eventually. Both teams will be getting acquainted with their new conferences for a few years, but I'd suspect in maybe four, five years it will be back.
Jenn Menendez: As for the rest of out of conference scheduling, I think they'll stick to geographic rivals. Teams like Maryland make perfect sense.
WVU1867: Any thoughts on how the extensive travel will effect their play ....
Jenn Menendez: I doubt it will effect the players at all. They generally fly charter planes, so will maybe be an hour or two longer in the air, but since they fly direct I don't think it will be an issue.
Jenn Menendez: Well thanks very much everyone, supposed to wrap this up at 2:30, and we've run a few minutes extra here. Again, please feel free to send questions and I can address them here, or throw them up in the blog. firstname.lastname@example.org