MORGANTOWN - Perhaps lost in all the hype surrounding West Virginia's first foray into the Big 12, the explosive potential of its offense, a reshaped defense and every other hot-button topic surrounding this team is something easily overlooked but perhaps as crucial to its success as anything.
The kicking game.
True, what happens there could easily be rendered irrelevant if an offense led by coach Dana Holgorsen, preseason player of the year Geno Smith, receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey et al fails to live up to its promise.
And yes, that under-new-management defense has a seriously uphill climb ahead of it in a league in which even the best of those units can be made to look silly on any given Saturday.
But just for a moment let's imagine that everything comes together on both sides of the ball for the Mountaineers. Even if that happens, in a league in which virtually every foe has the potential - if not the expectations - to crack the Top 25, what is it that generally makes the difference?
Well, two things. Turnovers - both ways - and the kicking game.
The turnover aspect will be addressed by the offense and the defense as a matter of course. It always is.
Ah, but the kicking game. That's a different animal.
Not only does West Virginia begin practice Thursday with a rather, shall we say, inconsistent group of kickers, there are also new rules to follow.
So how will all of those changes affect the kicking game? Well, Holgorsen is of the school of thought that most are no big deal. And even if they turn out to be significant, what's he supposed to do about it?