You guys know the drill here: buy stocks (positions) that you think are going to improve over the course of the season, sell stocks that won’t. Very straightforward.
I actually really liked what I saw from the Mountaineer quarterbacks on Saturday. All three guys made explosive plays, all showed the ability to run (Nicco’s kinda fast!), and with the exception of Greene’s interception to Aubrey Burks the decision making seemed sound. Let’s be honest though – the optimism here is all centered around the JT Daniels merger. The Mountaineers have gone from likely fielding a bottom half quarterback in the Big 12 to possibly having one of the two or three best, and it’s hard not to be excited about that.
Running Backs: Buy
This stock wouldn’t be the biggest money-maker considering the lofty expectations (you’re buying high) but it’s definitely a safe bet. This is probably the best room we’ve had here under Neal Brown and may be the single deepest position group on the team. All four dudes look competent, and each offers something a little different. Lots of possibilities here.
Wide receivers: Buy
A buy-low stock with big ROI potential. As a recent lawn guy, I can tell you that dethatching regularly is important to the sustained health of your lawn. That’s how I’m thinking about what’s going on with our receivers. There are and should be concerns about depth following all the portal attrition, but the glass half full spin is that clearing those guys out will give the guys who stuck around the room they need to flourish. Either way, everybody seems to be enjoying themselves, and Kaden Prather especially looks primed to take a massive leap forward. If he can step forward into that #1 role then everything else falls into place. And how about Preston Fox? We still need at least one of the two JUCO guys to be a hit, but this room in a pretty decent spot for April.
Tight ends: Sell
The SUV room will clearly have a role to play this year if our offense is going to take a step forward towards respectable, but it’s all unknowns right now. Maybe Mike O’Laughlin isn’t Brendan Ferns 2.0 and will be just fine come September. Maybe CJ Donaldson and/or Corbin Page get here and give us some pop. Maybe Polendey ends up being more of a threat in the passing game than he’s expected to be. Maybe one of the dudes on campus (Treylan Davis, Vik Wik) takes a big step forward. But right now this is looking like the most lackluster position group on the team.
Offensive Line: Buy
Another safe bet. We have five starters back from an above average unit plus three new names receiving weekly praise from the coaching staff. We need to see them perform better against better competition, but overall you have to feel pretty good here.
Defensive Line: Tentative Buy
This would’ve been an easy buy a few weeks back, but when your best defensive player decides to transfer it obviously changes things for his position group. I still like the overall rotation, but with Mesidor gone the ceiling is objectively lower. Maybe it turns out to be not that big of a deal considering that interior defensive linemen generally function as damage sponges anyways, but I feel like we need somebody besides Dante step up as a game wrecker.
A textbook case of addition by subtraction. Josh Chandler-Semedo was a solid player at the Mike, but Lee Kpogba brings much more athleticism and pairing him with Lance Dixon should give us much more sideline-to-sideline pop than we had a year ago. I think this group has a much higher ceiling than it did a year ago.
The secondary is our crypto, and I’m lumping them all together because with the exception of Charles Woods (who seems locked in at CB1) it sounds like just about everybody is getting a look everywhere. In January when Porter, Fortune, Matthews, and McLeod were all due back the group looked like a strength. In February with the latter recovering from a stabbing and the other three in the portal it looked like a weakness. That volatility would likely be enough to make some investors stay away, but after getting eyes on things on Saturday and seeing the new physical identity in practice – length, speed, versatility – I actually think it’s a great time to buy. It’s easy to see what the staff’s vision for this secondary is, and I can’t help but feel like there’s a version of it where they’re a real strength again, especially if the front 6 holds up their end of the bargain.
Neal Brown + Mountaineer Nation: BUY
Big-time buy here. I’m not telling anybody who’s reading this anything they don’t already know, but Neal Brown has really done a great job since Ahkeem Mesidor decided to re-don the Sorting Hat, and based on the recent grassroots fundraising movement (over $100k in about 48 hours), Mountaineer Nation is all in on the kids who want to be here and wear that old gold and blue. Man if they ever start winning in a serious way again this has a chance to turn into something really special. It’s us against the world boys, let’s get it.