The West Virginia Mountaineers (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) will look for their second victory in a row when the Texas Longhorns (6-2, 5-0 Big 12) come to Morgantown Saturday night.
This game is rather important for Texas if they want to stay in the hunt for a Big 12 title, while West Virginia is looking to get back to their 12th consecutive bowl game.
Let’s take a look at five things the Mountaineers must do in order to have success and pull off the upset against the Horns.
5. Play off the crowd. Mountaineer field on a Saturday night should be jumping, even though WVU isn’t having a great season, there’s still plenty to play for. West Virginia has been playing well at home all season long, and they do have an upset victory over Oklahoma State, so look for the crowd to step it up a notch with a program like Texas coming to town.
4. The West Virginia offensive line needs to show continued improvement. They played well as a unit against TCU, opening holes for running back Charles Sims, who is the second leading rusher in Big 12 play, behind only Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk. If they give quarterback Clint Trickett some time to throw and Sims some space to run, West Virginia should be able to keep things close. If the line has a shaky performance, the Mountaineers might not stand a chance against the athletic defensive front of Texas.
3. Field position and special teams. The Mountaineers need to win the field position battle and keep the Texas offense backed up. If punter Nick O’Toole can pin them deep a few times, West Virginia’s defense might be able to score off of a turnover or two. Time and time again, we see special teams blunders costing a team, the Mountaineers will need to be sound in all three phases of the game in order to beat the Horns.
2. The West Virginia run defense against the Texas rushing attack. The Horns are averaging 203 rushing yards-per-game, and the Mountaineers are giving up an average of 176.6 rushing yards-per-game. Texas will most likely look to set up their passing game off of their talented runners, but if the West Virginia defense is able to crowd the box and stuff the run game, they’ll force the Horns to win with a shaky passing game. This would make Texas one dimensional on offense, and certainly would give the Mountaineers a chance.
1. West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett must come up big in the passing game. First and foremost, Trickett needs to avoid making costly mistakes, like throwing into double and triple coverage or taking ten yard sacks. If the Texas defense is in his face, he will need to throw the ball away and live for another down, which is something he didn’t do against TCU.
The Texas defense has vastly improved from earlier in the season, ever since hiring new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. There’s no doubt they’ll have a high level of talent all over the field, but Trickett needs to be smart and manage the game. Texas doesn’t have an explosive offense, however, their defense really does a good job of creating turnovers and scoring off them.
If Trickett can make a few timely plays here and there, while staying away from the big turnovers and just operate the offense, West Virginia will have a chance to win because they do tend to play better at home.