Joe Wickline comes to the WVU football program with a wealth of experience and an ability to get the most out of his players.
The 34-year college coaching veteran is the perfect fit for the Mountaineers in the 2016 season, and beyond.
As the West Virginia offense evolves out of the main hands of WVU head coach Dan Holgorsen, Wickline will pick up the pieces and make sure the Mountaineers are running as efficiently as possible.
Wickline comes into the picture at the right time for the Mountaineers. They are coming off a solid campaign, where they tried to regain their footing after a pair of slipping seasons within the Big 12 Conference. The Mountaineers will be entering their fifth season into the conference, which is no longer new for the program, university and even Coach Holgorsen.
Holgorsen was brought into the picture six years ago in an attempt to better ease the transition for the Mountaineers from the Big East into the Big 12. So far, WVU has been mediocre in their venture.
With Wickline, though, the Mountaineers may have their best shot to rise to the top of the league right away.
Last year, WVU ranked No. 6 (34 points per game) in scoring offense in the Big 12, No. 2 in rushing offense (228.2 yards per game), No. 6 in passing offense (251.5 yards per game), No. 6 in total offense (479.7 yards per game) and No. 7 in Red Zone offense (80.3 percent).
Last year, Wickline was the offensive coordinator at Texas. There, he helped the Longhorns get to a record of 5-7. In the process, they ranked No. 8 (26.4 points per game) in scoring offense in the Big 12, No. 3 in rushing offense (224.8 yards per game), No. 10 in passing offense (145.9 yards per game), No. 8 in total offense (370.8 yards per game) and No. 4 in Red Zone offense (88.2 percent).
The numbers were in decline from what Texas and Wickline has been used to, so he has something to prove in his first season at WVU.
In a recent interview, Holgorsen admitted he has no reservations in what Wickline is about to do.
"“What Joe is going to bring to the table is he’s got a wealth of knowledge when it comes to football in general, Holgorsen said. “I feel like we need to get back to our roots just a little bit more, maintain the run game that we did last year that allowed us to have the Big 12’s leading rusher in Wendell Smallwood, and though he’s moved on to the NFL, I feel like we’ve got three capable bodies to do the same stuff that Wendell did, and then we’ve got to improve in the pass game.”"
The Mountaineers should have the personnel to exceed expectations throwing the ball this season. Wickline inherits a revamped Skyler Howard at quarterback and a host of receivers including Jovon Durante, Ka’Raun White, Daniel Shorts and Shelton Gibson.
Holgorsen, who had the patent on the Mountaineers’ offense in his first few seasons in Morgantown, is more than happy to see what Wickline can do with a new group.
"“Having Coach Wickline will be able to widen that pocket a little bit, having the time with him and all these receivers that we got, I think it’s going to make a bunch of difference and if we can maintain the running hame where we’re at and improving that passing game a little bit, I feel like we’ll be where we need to be,” Holgorsen said."
Wickline’s previous coaching stops include Tennessee, Delta State, Mississippi, Baylor, Middle Tennessee State, Florida and Oklahoma State, before spending the previous two years at Texas.
Wickline should be able to find some common ground with the Mountaineers and stay in the WVU football program for many years to come. His consistent presence will be able to help the Mountaineers compete in areas where they haven’t been able to, just yet, in the Big 12 Conference.