Year three of the Neal Brown era kicks off with a lot of anticipation and excitement surrounding the program following the Mountaineers win in Liberty Bowl and a great off season of recruiting. Now can Brown and his team carry that momentum into the season and possibly challenge for a spot in the Big 12 championship game?

Well here are some keys to the Mountaineers’ success this season, and in their match up with Maryland.

The last time we saw quarterback Jarret Doege in a game, he was struggling in the Liberty Bowl and was replaced at halftime. All indications from camp are that he has made great strides in all aspects of his game and has shown great leadership with the offense that will be key for this team’s success.

Doege’s receivers need to show growth along with his own improvement. Over the past two seasons they all have struggled to hold onto to the football — in fact, it was so much of an issue that Bryce Ford-Wheaton said the group caught more than 89,000 balls during the winter alone and that their attention to detail has continued through the spring and fall camp. Let’s hope they have cured their case of the dropsies.

The offense, however, will run through running back Leddie Brown. His production went way up in 2020 as he rushed for 1,068 with nine touchdowns. Where you expect to see his production increase is in the passing game — last season he caught just 31 passes in 10 games, and that number will be much higher this season as they do as much as they can to get him the ball.

The offensive line, of course, played a major role in last year’s running game resurgence, and this season they look to be even stronger. Offensive line coach Matt Moore says that he finally has depth at the position and is up to at least 8 players they feel comfortable using in a game and they expect that number to grow to 10 during the season. A strong performance from the offensive line is critical in Saturday’s opener.

Defensively, the Mountaineers took a hit with loss of corners Tykee Smith and Dreshun Miller in the transfer portal, two keys to WVU’s defensive success in 2020, plus the loss of Darius Stills on the line. Do they have the pieces to replace those players? We are about to find out.