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October 17, 2013

Game Preview: Texas Tech




Game Preview: WVU vs. Texas Tech

Series: 1-1 Tied

Last meeting: 2012: WVU 14, Texas Tech 49 F

Television: 12 p.m., Fox Sports 1 (Jason Kutcher - play-by-play, James Bates - analysis, Brady Poppinga sideline)

Line: +8 West Virginia


West Virginia (3-3, 1-2) will play host to No. 15/16 Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0), a team that has went undefeated through the half way point of the season.

The Red Raiders are led by former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, who enters his first season as a head coach. The Texas Tech alumni played in Lubbock from 1999-2002 before a brief NFL Career that led him down a coaching path.

There he spent time with West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen, who coached Kingsbury during his seven years at Texas Tech, before becoming the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M and then being named as atop the Red Raiders football program.

"Obviously, we don't talk as much now that we're in the same conference. But I have a ton of respect for him and I wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for him," Kingsbury said.

Kingsbury is the first head coach in Texas Tech history to begin his career 6-0 and utilizes a spread offense, very similar to that of the Mountaineers. This will be the first trip for the Red Raiders to Morgantown after winning last season's matchup 49-14 knocking West Virginia from the ranks of the unbeaten.

"Most of the them have never been to West Virginia in their lives. They say the stadium is unbelievable, the fans are unbelievable, so it will be a great atmosphere for all of us to experience," Kingsbury said.

Behind a pair of true freshmen quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb, the Red Raiders have started out the gates quickly winning their first three Big 12 Conference games. Kingsbury has yet to name a starting quarterback for this weekend, but Webb played last week throwing for 415 yards and four touchdowns in a win against Iowa State. Both quarterbacks sport identical 136 efficiency ratings through five games each.

Although there is inexperience behind center, the rest of the Red Raiders skill positions are anything but with junior tight end Jace Amaro leading the way with 47 catches for 606 yards and a touchdown on the season. Other targets include senior leader Eric Ward, Jakeem Grant, among others.

Defensively the Red Raiders have held opponents to 17.3 points per game and ranks 15th nationally in scoring defense and is ranked as the 21st best overall in the country. The Red Raiders lead the Big 12 in rush defense allowing 113.2 yards per game, third down conversion defense (.282 average) and second in sacks (16).

"We'll be familiar with them, they'll be familiar with us and it should be a great battle in Morgantown," Holgorsen said.

The game will kickoff at noon.

West Virginia Depth Chart:

OFFENSE:

QB - 9 Clint Trickett (r-Jr), 14 Paul Millard (Jr), 7 Ford Childress (r-Fr)
RB (A) - 3 Charles Sims (r-Sr), 4 Wendell Smallwood (Fr), 2 Dreamius Smith (Jr), 29 Dustin Garrison (Jr)
FB (B) - 88 Cody Clay (r-So), 42 Garrett Hope (So)
WR (X) - 12 Ronald Carswell (r-So), 5 Mario Alford (Jr)
WR (Z) - 85 Ivan McCartney (Sr.), 11 Kevin White (Jr)
IR (Y) - 6 Daikiel Shorts (Fr), 10 Jordan Thompson (So)
LT - 79 Nick Kindler (r-Sr), 63 Mike Calicchio (r-Jr)
LG - 67 Quinton Spain (r-Jr), 78 Marquis Lucas (r-So)
C - 76 Pat Eger (r-Sr), 65 Tyler Orlosky (r-Fr)
RG - 64 Mark Glowinski (r-Jr), 78 Marquis Lucas (r-So)
RT - 62 Curtis Feigt (r-Sr), 57 Adam Pankey (r-Fr)

DEFENSE:

DT - 98 Will Clarke (r-Sr), 97 Noble Nwachukwu (r-Fr)
NT - 90 Shaq Rowell (r-Sr), 93 Kyle Rose (r-So)
DE - 99 Dontrill Hyman (Jr), 45 Eric Kinsey (So)
BUCK - 2 Brandon Golson (Jr), 18 Marvin Gross (Fr)
SPUR - 31 Isaiah Bruce (r-So), 37 Wes Tonkery (r-Jr)
WILL - 33 Jared Barber (Jr), 35 Nick Kwiatkoski (r-So)
SAM - 47 Doug Rigg (Sr), 11 Sean Walters (r-Fr)
FCB - 34 Ishmael Banks (r-Jr), 22 Avery Williams (r-So)
FS - 8 Karl Joseph (So), 9 K.J. Dillon (So.)
BS - 25 Darwin Cook (r-Sr), 41 Ricky Rumph (So)
BCB - 7 Daryl Worley (Fr), 26 Travis Bell (r-Jr)

SPECIAL TEAMS:

PK - 86 Josh Lambert (r-Fr)
P - 91 Nick O'Toole (So)
KO - 48 Michael Molinari (r-Jr)
LS -87 John DePalma (So)
H - 48 Michael Molinari (r-Jr)
PR - 12 Ronald Carswell (So), 10 Jordan Thompson (So)
KR - 5 Mario Alford (Jr), 4 Wendell Smallwood (Fr)

Notes:

Sixteen Mountaineers earned their first career starts this season with Mario Alford (WR), Ronald Carswell (WR), Ford Childress (QB), Mark Glowinski (RG), Brandon Golson (BUCK), Marquis Lucas (LG), Paul Millard (QB), KJ Myers (WR), Tyler Orlosky (C), WR Daikiel Shorts (WR), Charles Sims (RB), Dreamius Smith (RB), Clint Trickett (QB), Daryl Worley (CB), Josh Lambert (K), Nick O'Toole (P).

True freshmen that have played include: Marvin Gross (LB), Carlton Nash (CB), Wendell Smallwood (RB), Daikiel Shorts (WR), Jeremy Tyler (S) and Daryl Worley (CB).

In total, 30 Mountaineers saw their first game action this season including Mario Alford (WR), Justin Arndt (LB), Michael Calicchio (OL), Ronald Carswell (WR), Ford Childress (QB), James Gayeski (DL), Brandon Golson (BUCK), Mark Glowinski (RG), Jarrod Harper (S), Dontrill Hyman (DE), Josh Lambert (K), Devonte Mathis (WR), Logan Moore (WR), Carlton Nash (CB), Brandon Napoleon (CB), Noble Nwachukwu (DE), Tyler Orlosky (C), Nick O'Toole (P), Adam Pankey (OL) Daikiel Shorts (WR), Charles Sims (RB), Wendell Smallwood (RB), Dreamius Smith (RB), Clint Trickett (QB), Jeremy Tyler (S), Sean Walters (LB), Kevin White (WR), Daryl Worley (CB) and Maurice Zereoue (RB).

Injuries: Redshirt sophomore linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is back this week after missing several games with a hamstring injury. Sophomore safety Ricky Rumph is doubtful with a foot injury. Senior wide receiver Ivan McCartney continues to be questionable with a concussion. Redshirt junior Wes Tonkery will be out six weeks with a broken thumb. Sophomore Christian Brown is out for the remainder of the season with a foot injury and will receive a medical redshirt. Redshirt senior and back up BUCK linebacker Dozie Ezemma broke his lower leg and foot against William & Mary and will miss the remainder of the season. West Virginia also will be without junior linebacker Shaq Petteway who will miss the entire season with a torn ACL. Sophomore cornerback Nana Kyeremeh also will miss the entirety of the season with a shoulder injury.

Redshirts: Head Coach Dana Holgorsen has already announced that he plans to redshirt the following players this season: junior running back Andrew Buie, junior offensive lineman Stone Underwood, freshman wide receiver Shelton Gibson, freshmen linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton, freshman fullback Elijah Wellman, freshman safety Isaac McDonald, freshman wide receiver Jacky Marcellus, freshman safety Malik Greaves, freshman offensive lineman Marcell Lazard, freshman offensive lineman Tyler Tezeno and freshman offensive lineman Grant Lingafelter.

Points to click:

You would think that not having your starting quarterback available would put most teams at a disadvantage going into t road conference game. The important word there is most. Texas Tech is not most teams. After turning the team over to a walk-on freshman quarterback, Tech will now hand over the team to ANOTHER freshman quarterback who, oh by the way, has put up major statistics of his own.

There aren't a ton of aspects in either Baker Mayfield or Davis Webb game that are so different that you can game plan differently but based off numbers alone there might be a point of attack for the Mountaineer defense that they could to neutralize the Red Raiders air raid attack.

Mayfield, while not the fastest quarterback in Texas, is certainly no slouch when it comes to getting the yards he needs on the ground. Webb on the other hand appears to be more of a pocket passer who slings the ball all over the field.

In no way am I saying that Webb is a statue in the backfield but when going against a young quarterback who isn't that mobile during his first road start then you can expect the pressure. With Mayfield apparently out for the game and Webb the likely starter, WVU is going to have to not only put pressure on the freshman quarterback but actually force Webb out of his rhythm. He cannot continue to have all day to throw the football like he has to this point in his young football career.

If getting pressure on the opponents quarterback is a major key to this Saturday's game then you know keeping your own quarterback upright is as equally important. This maybe even more so for West Virginia with the injuries to Junior Clint Trickett and red shirt Freshman Ford Childress.

If the Mountaineer offensive line can't keep a repeat of their performances against Maryland and Baylor from happening then they will see a repeat of what Texas Tech did to them last year. Everyone on offense has a part to play in the blame for struggles this year but it falls on the line to make a vast improvement if any other offensive unit is going to be able to keep pace with Tech's dynamic offense. If Texas Tech plays WVU like they did last year the quarterbacks are going to need time to not only throw the deep pass but also connect on a few to loosen up the Tech defense.

Whoever ends up getting the nod in Saturday's conference showdown, if they are given time to find the open receiver down the field then that should also relieve some of the pressure on a Mountaineer running game that has struggled the past few weeks.

Speaking of, the running game could very well be the difference maker in game between two teams that like to air it out. West Virginia will like to see a specific stat trend stay the same when it comes to both teams rushing attacks. Texas Tech's starting running backs DeAndre Washington and Kenny Williams are only averaging 3.8 yards per carry. West Virginia's starting two, Dreamius Smith and Charles Sims, are averaging nearly 5 yards per carry.

For the Mountaineer to exact revenge for last year's blow-out they will need to contain Tech to their average or less while allowing Sims, Smith and freshman Wendell Smallwood the opportunity to keep the Mountaineer defense fresh but maybe more importantly, keeping Texas Tech's offense off the field.

Containing Jace Amaro also will be key for the Mountaineers, as he put up a career high a season ago and has started this season very strong.


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