Game of the Week: Week 6
West Virginia looks to continue its strong start to its inaugural Big 12 campaign against a resurgent Texas
Game of the Week Preview: WVU at Texas
West Virginia kicked off their Big 12 debuts in record-fashion, lighting up the gridiron for 70 points in a victory over the Baylor Bears last week. Quarterback Geno Smith has been near-perfect for the Mountaineers, leading the nation with a 208.4 passer rating, 83.4 completion percentage and 20 touchdowns to go along with his 1,728 yards. The wide receiver tandem of Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are first and second in the nation in receiving touchdowns, and are both in the top ten in receiving yards as well. However, they could be going up against one of the best defenses (next to LSU last season) they’ve seen in two years with Smith under center.
Texas’ Quandre Diggs is a budding star at the corner position, leading the team in interceptions and passes defensed, and he’ll be under a lot of pressure to narrow the field against West Virginia’s spread attack. The Longhorns have surrendered five touchdowns of 44 yards or longer this season. By comparison, Smith had four touchdowns from at least 39 yards out in the second half last week against Baylor. As important as the big play could be in this week’s game of the week, the real damage could be done in the trenches. Longhorn defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor have been terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, combining for seven sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 14 quarterback hurries on the season. Smith has shown great mobility in and out of the pocket, but there’s a chance he’ll be pressured more this weekend then he has at any other point in his collegiate career.
The Longhorns’ offense has certainly outplayed expectations this season, averaging an impressive 47.3 points per game thanks to their dominant ground game. They’re full complement of young running backs (sophomores Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown, freshman Jonathan Gray) will look to slow down the up-tempo Mountaineer game speed. The longer Texas can sustain a productive drive, the longer Heisman-favorite Geno Smith and the nation’s top offense stands idle on the sidelines. While most could see the abundance of talent in the Longhorn’s backfield, quarterback David Ash’s success has come at somewhat of a surprise. The sophomore is second in the nation with 184 passer rating and has thrown for over 1,000 yards with 10 touchdowns and only one interception. So far he’s been everything Head Coach Mack Brown could have hoped for, and could have a field day going against a West Virginia defense that gave up 63 points and over 700 yards to Baylor last week.
The only other time these two teams have met was over 50 years ago, when the Mountaineers won a defensive struggle in Austin 7-6. With the high level these two offenses are playing at now, we’ll likely looking at a whole different ballgame this time around.
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