You can read about the Mountaineers all week long but you can never get a true sense of the other side until you go straight to the source. So, we are previewing this week's game with a Q&A session. In bold are are a series of questions I sent to The Smoking Musket's Matt Kirchner, followed by his responses.
What are your thoughts on quarterback Skyler Howard? I know he played a good bit late last year and is pretty mobile, but his completion percentage was a little low. Do you have high hopes for him this season?
Skyler Howard has a ton of potential, and I'm excited to see him run Holgorsen's offense. Having a dual-threat quarterback is really great when you're spreading the field as much as Holgo likes to do.
That being said, he's a bit of a gunslinger. There's a lot of work to be done with his accuracy and that can pose a big problem, especially when he needs to get on the same page with a young receiving corps.
All in all, I'm excited to see what he can do. He has big-play ability and I'm hoping he's able to settle down and be accurate.
Similarly, your top two receivers are filling roles vacated by graduation. Do you see these guys lighting it up in week one?
It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out at wide receiver. I flagged them as our position of most concern on our podcast.
It's not because of a lack of talent, but just pure lack of experience. We had a ton of talent at receiver in 2013 (Kevin White and Mario Alford) and we stunk [finished 4-8] because we were breaking in a new quarterback and replacing two do-everything wideouts.
I'm worried that I've seen this movie before, basically.
The Mountaineer defense was a strength last year and returns 10 starters, how do you think they'll do against a unique offense like Georgia Southern's?
Triple option terrifies me and I hate whoever scheduled this game for week one. That being said, we're very experienced and we have the discipline to defend it well. Southern is still going to have the ball for about 45 minutes and that's really annoying.
How does the fanbase feel about Dana Holgorsen? He became head coach under somewhat murky circumstances and then had some off-the-field issues. Last season things improved a good bit from 2013, is this a make-or-break year?
The fan base is divided on Dana. Very divided. I find myself firmly on the pro-Holgo team, but even I believe this year is make or break. He has his guys in the program and any kind of regression might be a reason to pull the plug. The reason to keep him, though, is that we're still recruiting at a very high level and you don't want to hurt that. It's a very odd situation right now.
Is the fanbase pumped about this game or is it more like "meh, Sun Belt team whatevs." Obviously it's a big game from our perspective and many Southern fans feel our team can pull off a win. Vegas disagrees and has WVU as a 20-point favorite.
We're pumped because it's the first game of the season and a night game in Morgantown. Opponent doesn't matter. Obviously it's not kicking off against Bama in ATL, but it's an exciting thing nonetheless. The more educated in the fan base also recognize that Georgia Southern is more than your usual week one exhibition and are dialed in. It should be fun.
If GSU fans make the trip to Morgantown, what are some can't-miss restaurants, nightlife and/or other cool things to do during the trip?
I'm of the opinion that your best places for dinner in Morgantown are down on the river waterfront area. You've got Oliverio's (Italian), Mountain State Brewing Company (great pizza and beer), and Table 9 (a relatively new gastropub with awesome and creative food). Outside of that, everyone will recommend Kegler's or the Varsity Club for good wings and bar food.
Nightlife-wise, High Street is your destination. Bent Willey's and Joe Mama's will provide your best club atmosphere and the Sports Page is always packed on the weekends (and has $3 Long Islands). For non-food and drink, head a bit east on I-68 and hit up Cooper's Rock for one of the best views you'll ever get and some good hiking.
I've got to ask: What's with the couch burning thing. Is that real? If so, where could a Southern fan go to witness one of these rituals?
It's real. It's not sanctioned. We have a bunch of kids with ratty old furniture and a lot of booze and couches are remarkably combustible.
It won't happen during Georgia Southern weekend. Come back if we go 4-0 during the October death march of @Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, @Baylor, @TCU.