The Arizona State Sun Devils continue preparations this week for their January 2 bowl matchup against the West Virginia Mountaineers. Dana Holgorsen was squarely on the hot seat after a 3-4 start to the season, but he has since righted the ship with victories in four of their last five games. Here is your first look at the Mountaineers.
Head Coach - Dana Holgorsen
After serving as an offensive coordinator with the likes of Texas Tech, Houston, and Oklahoma State, Holgorsen was given his first ever head coaching job in 2011 by West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck.
The team is 35-28 with Holgorsen at the helm, going to three bowl games in his first four seasons and winning one of them. The trip to the Cactus Bowl next month will be his fourth postseason appearance.
Holgorsen and Arizona State head coach Todd Graham do have a bit of history together. They coached against each other while Holgorsen was at Houston and Graham was with Tulsa, then once again in the Backyard Brawl rivalry when both coaches moved on to West Virginia and Pittsburgh, respectively.
Holgorsen, and other members of the Houston staff, actually accused Graham's players of faking injuries to slow down the Cougar offense back in 2009.
Fast forward to present day, and that point of contention seems to be long behind both coaches at this point. Both staffs are more worried about going out on top in the bowl game after a couple of disappointing finishes.
While the Sun Devils dropped a heartbreaker at California, the Mountaineers saw a 13-3 lead at Kansas State disappear quickly before falling 24-23. The loss dropped the team to 7-5 for the season.
Quarterback - Skyler Howard
Howard burst onto the scene last season, taking over in the final three games of the year for injured quarterback Clint Trickett. Now a junior, Howard won the starting job in the offseason and has steadied himself after a rocky start to the year.
He has 27 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions, throwing for over 2600 yards in the process. His best game came in a 38-20 victory against Texas, when he completed 10 of 12 passes, threw two touchdowns, and ran for one more.
Key Defensive Players
Cornerback Daryl Worley - The junior leads the team in interceptions with six, but is really a stat-sheet stuffer all across the board. He finished the regular season with 12 pass deflections and 49 tackles, including an eight solo-tackle game against Texas.
Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski - Fans of the maroon and gold will want to remember this name. Kwiatkoski already has 80 tackles this year and can also get to the quarterback quickly when called upon to blitz.
|Big 12 Rank|
|Scoring Offense||33.3 PPG||6th|
|Scoring Defense||23.2 PPG||2nd|
|Rushing Offense||235.3 YPG||2nd|
|Rushing Defense||163.4 YPG||4th|
|Passing Offense||228.1 YPG||6th|
|Passing Defense||222.8 YPG||3rd|
|Total Offense||463.3 YPG||6th|
|Total Defense||386.2 YPG||2nd|