The vacuum created when Geno Smith graduated from West Virginia University and entered the NFL has yet to be filled. To date the three quarterbacks that have auditioned for the starting job for the Mountaineer football team haven't filled that vacuum.
Geno was drafted by the New York Jets and his performance as the Jets' starter may have saved head coach Rex Ryan's job. At least the job Geno is doing for the Jets will make the decision to replace Ryan difficult. Entering the season, many Jets fans believed Ryan was entering his final year as the head coach.
For Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen he is finding life after Geno is challenging, at best.
Clint Trickett, Ford Childress, and Paul Millard have all attempted to replace Geno in the Mountaineer offense and none have been successful. So far the three quarterbacks have combined for 1,472 passing yards with eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
Geno threw for just under 4,300 yards last season and had only seven interception for the entire season.
Holgorsen's record this season stands at 3-3 overall and 1-2 in Big-12 conference play. The only constant for his offense is it's inability to score points and generate yards. Holgorsen needs a quarterback for his offense to work and right now he doesn't have a quarterback capable of performing to the standards he is accustomed.
To make matters worse the strength of the WVU offense is it's running-backs. Holgorsen seems to be willing to run the football if he had an offensive line to block for his running-backs. The same offensive line that has difficulty protecting those new quarterbacks can't run block either.
Holgorsen's team has six regular season games remaining and need to win three of those to become bowl eligible. With three home games and three road games remaining Holgorsen's team has a much better chance than many give them credit.
With undefeated Texas Tech up next on the Mountaineer's schedule Holgorsen's team could be looking at a 3-4 record heading into the final five games of the 2013 season. That could be where the bad news ends for fans of the Mountaineer football team.
Those final five games certainly represent some difficult games but after the Red Raiders the remaining opponents on the WVU schedule have a combined record of 12-16. The Mountaineer schedule was front loaded for 2013 and Holgorsen has an opportunity to salvage a winning record in the final five games.
Of those five final opponents Texas is the only team with a winning record currently. Texas Christian University matches Holgorsen's record at 3-3, and Kansas State University is 2-4. Kansas is 2-3 and the talent on the Jayhawk roster may not be as good as the record suggests. The Iowa State Cyclones are 1-4 and many believe they are the best 1-4 team in the FBS. Still, the Cyclones are 1-4 and must travel to Morgantown to play the Mountaineers.
Texas beat Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout on Saturday, a major upset for the Big-12 conference. Prior to Saturday the Longhorns appeared to be struggling to compete. Texas will also face Holgorsen's football team in Touchdown City.
It is the remaining road games that will tell the tale of the 2013 season for the WVU football team. Currently, all three of the losses for the season have come in road games for the Mountaineers. Entering the season Holgorsen was 7-4 as head coach in road games at WVU and now stands at 7-7.
In 2011 WVU was 5-1 on the road that record fell to 2-3 in 2012, the Mountaineer's first season in the Big-12. For Holgorsen's charges to get above a .500 road record this season they will need to win at Kansas, Kansas State, and TCU.
Baylor embarrassed the Mountaineer defense last week and set records doing it. For the football team to regroup and enter the conversation for bowl eligibility the defense needs to return to form. Entering the Baylor contest it was the defense that was the highlight of the 2013 Mountaineer football team.
Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will get his players back on track, even Texas Tech doesn't have the amount of offense that Patterson's players faced in Waco. The Red Raiders can score points, not on the scale the Bears can or with the same efficiency.
Texas Tech is a hard nosed team and first year head coach Cliff Kingsbury has the offense performing well, despite some quarterback issues of their own. Still, the game is in Morgantown and the team does have a week to rest and prepare. Patterson's unit will be prepared for the Red Raiders.
For Holgorsen to right the Mountaineer ship this season his offense needs to generate yardage and points. The offensive line is critical to any improvement the offense makes, without a major improvement from the guys up front the final half of the season will look just like the first half, embarrassing.
Holgorsen's offense hangs it's proverbial hat on the ability of it's quarterback to pass his team to victory. None of the three quarterbacks on the roster appear capable of fulfilling that directive for Holgorsen. An improved running attack could be just the prescription the offense needs to take the pressure off all that inexperience at quarterback.
As most football fans know, the best way to get wins on the road is to have a good defense and a consistent running game that can chew up yards and minutes. The Mountaineers have half of that equation, it is up to the offensive line to secure the other half.
It is the offensive line that will dictate whether the Mountaineers bowl streak continues or ends this season. Improved play by the big uglies up front get their teammates a trip to a bowl game at the end of the season. Even all that inexperience at quarterback isn't as glaring with improved protection.
Fair or not, offensive line coach Ron Crook and his players hold the key to the season for WVU.