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Texas Longhorns - West Virginia Mountaineers Football Preview

A few quick facts on the Mountaineers.

Justin K. Aller

WVU Defense

  1. Their multiple 3-4 style defense is undersized and loaded with versatile tweeners who create problems for offenses that aren't on the same page and can't execute against Mountaineer weaknesses.  They'll line up in press man with no safeties and bring 7 and they'll line up in Cover 4 with 8 dropping into coverage on the same series.
  2. The front 3 DL go 265-294-242.  Their LB corps averages 218.  These guys are small.  So they shoot gaps, blitz both A gaps to free up DE Shaq Riddick (6 sacks on the season) on your TE or RB (we put some bad habits on film early against Tech last week) and are very comfortable placing their LBs in coverage against anyone.
  3. This is an average defense overall but the pass defense has been exceptional over their last three games against Baylor, Oklahoma St and TCU.  If you're competent offensively, you can run the ball on them.  If you miss assignments and struggle with line calls you won't.  A poised OL and a poised Swoopes are needed.
  4. Baylor struggled to run or mount much offense at all because Petty couldn't exploit single coverage deep.  Boykin struggled with reads and accuracy against their linebackers bouncing in and out of coverage. Oklahoma State the same.  The easiest way to get a handle on WVU is to line up, make the right calls and run the ball until they adjust to stop it.
The biggest struggle against the Mountaineer defense is simply getting body on body.  If we do that, good things will happen in all phases.  If we struggle, they'll smell blood, double down and you'll read lots of outraged posts wondering how an average defense could thrash us so badly.
WVU Offense
  1. Clint Trickett answers the question,"What if Case McCoy had been more talented and understood his limitations?"  He's accurate, throws a nice ball and understands Holgo's offense.  He's mobile but not a run threat and his 185 pound frame isn't built to take big hits.  Texas knocked him out of the game early last year.  He will hold on to the ball a count too long looking for the big play, but he's not foolhardy.
  2. 6-3, 210 pound WR Kevin White is awesome.  If Boykin isn't your Big12 OPOY, it has to be White.  He went 9-143-1 against Bama, 10-173-1 against OU and 8-132-2 against Baylor - the three best defenses West Virginia has seen all year.  He's a big, physical receiver with ability after the catch and reliable hands.  Both TCU and OSU limited him significantly, largely by virtue of bringing quick pressure and paying heavy attention to him. That freed up WVU's other options, but that's a concession I'll make.
  3. The rest of WVU's WR corps is jitterbug mold.  They flip it out and submit you to a tackling test.
  4. The OL is experienced, but they will give up hits on Trickett and they're average run blockers.  I suspect they'll have success running against our 3-3-5 looks.
This is a good WVU offense, but I'd like a game plan that risks balls outside of the numbers to test Trickett's average arm while jamming it up between the hashes, loading the field with safeties and cornerbacks to allow man under looks with safeties roaming in zone or blitzing and a 4 man DL to pressure Trickett and hold down the Mountaineer spread running game.  I think the best antidote to West Virginia is matching their personnel in the back 7 so that our Front 4 can impact the game.  Fall weather has a way of invigorating the big boys up front.  Let's turn them loose, play tight so that they can't flip it out for easy yardage before the rush gets there and put a safety behind whoever has White and see what happens.