MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Coaches are always talking about the need to create depth on their football teams. West Virginia's coaches are no different.
The game is so physical, they say - and the point really can't be argued - that by season's end the difference between winning and losing might not be talent or coaching in this age of parity as much as it is overcoming injuries. Creating depth right from the start is the obvious answer.
Well, there are tons of questions about West Virginia's football team as it approaches the 2013 opener in just over a week against William & Mary, but depth doesn't seem to be one of the big concerns.
How good the Mountaineers are at every position? Yes, that's up for debate. But how deep they are is not.
"We do seem to have some bodies just about everywhere,'' offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said.
"Finding enough players isn't an issue,'' said defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. "It's about finding the right ones.''
From the skill positions of running back and wide receiver on offense to both sides of the line of scrimmage, the linebackers and the back end of the defense, there has been competition this month. In some cases, the numbers seem even too big.
There are as many as a dozen wide receivers with a chance to play. There are five running backs, two of whom - Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison - have had 200-yards-plus rushing games and might be third or fourth team. The most experienced offensive lineman, Pat Eger, isn't likely to start.
On defense, as many as seven players could see action on the three-man line in the first half of the first game. The linebackers with a chance to play number more than a dozen. There are six cornerbacks and there are young safeties with promise who are stuck behind Karl Joseph and Darwin Cook.
Again, there is not necessarily safety in numbers because, until the Mountaineers play someone else, it's impossible to tell if this is great depth or just a lot of average players trying to rise above each other.
But if nothing else, injuries should affect West Virginia less this year. The talent level might still be an unknown, but it seems obvious that there are a lot of those players at every position with roughly the same talent.
Perhaps the position where the greatest depth is needed is at running back. Unlike some other positions, that depth will be used regardless of injury situations.
"The thing about running back is a lot of them are going to play,'' Dawson said. "That's a position where, if you watch college football, you know you need a lot of them to get through the season. It's a physical game and a physical position. Those guys take a lot of beating. To have a bunch of them that can play and not giving 90 percent of the reps to one guy, then you're going to be better.''