With the release of West Virginia University's 2011 football schedule, head coach Bill Stewart - as well as head coach in waiting and offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen - know what teams they will be playing and on what days those games will occur.
But before West Virginia opens the season on Sept. 3 with the Friends of Coal Bowl game against Marshall, Stewart and Holgorsen must deal with a revamped defense, an offensive line under new position coach Bill Bedenbaugh, and a running game that will be without the services of Noel Devine for the first time in four years.
First, let's take a look at the slate of games that will make up West Virginia's schedule.
Non-conference games with Marshall and Norfolk State (Sept. 10) open the home half of the schedule while LSU (Sept. 24) and Bowling Green (Oct. 1) close out the non-conference teams that will pay a visit to Milan Puskar Stadium this season.
The only road trip among WVU's five non-conference foes is a short one for Mountaineer fans at Maryland (Sept. 17).
Big East actions begins at the friendly confines of Mountaineer Field as well, as Connecticut is slated to come to Morgantown on Saturday, Oct. 8.
After the first open week of the season (Oct. 15), WVU closes out its schedule with four of six Big East games on the road. The old gold and blue will not return home until Nov. 5 when Louisville comes to town.
Prior to that contest ,WVU will have taken on Syracuse in the Carrier Dome (Oct. 22) and traveled to Piscataway, N.J. (Oct. 29) to face Rutgers.
Following the much-needed home game against Louisville, WVU is at Cincinnati on Nov. 12 and then takes 13 days off before entertaining arch-rival Pittsburgh in the annual Backyard Brawl on Friday. Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving.
Six days later, WVU closes out its regular season in the Sunshine State when the Mountaineers travel to Tampa to play South Florida in the only Thursday night contest (Dec. 1).
While the TV?schedule hasn't been released, it would be hard to fathom the next-to-last Friends of Coal Bowl won't be shown, while games against Maryland and LSU are made-for-television specials.
Conference games that fans can expect to see televised would have to include Syracuse and Connecticut - two teams that beat WVU in 2010 - as well as the "Backyard Brawl" and the game against South Florida, a team many believe should be favored to win the Big East.
Winning early - especially if WVU is impressive in doing so - will encourage networks to televise later contests.
Which brings us back to spring drills and the problems facing veteran defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel as well as those facing Stewart and an offensive staff faced with a number of questions with little time to develop answers.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com