Game Preview: WVU vs. ISU
Series: First meeting
Last meeting: N/A
Television: 3:30 p.m., ABC (Dave LaMont - play-by-play, Kelly Stouffer - analyst, sideline)
Line: -1 West Virginia
After a short week, West Virginia (5-5, 2-5) travels to Iowa State (6-5, 3-5) looking to end a five-game losing streak and earn bowl eligibility in the first ever meeting between the Big 12 Conference opponents.
This will also serve as the first meeting between the two head coaches, although Dana Holgorsen has went up against the Cyclones as an assistant at both Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Paul Rhoads is a name that's familiar to West Virginia fans after serving as Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator from 2000-07 and also as an assistant with Auburn in 2008. Since taking over as the head coach at Iowa State in 2009, Rhoads has led the Cyclones to a 24-25 record and 12-21 in Big 12 play, including 21-1 when holding teams under 24-points.
Offensively the Cyclones will rely on quick passing and running the football, while attempting to suck the defense up to go over the top with play action. Iowa State has used three separate quarterbacks this season, along with a trio of running backs and multiple wide receivers. But the signal caller position looks to be between senior Steele Jantz and freshman Sam Richardson.
But defense is the calling card as the Cyclones only allow 22-points per game and are especially tight in the red zone bringing a lot of different pressures. Iowa State has given up the most first downs in the league at 209, but are first in the league in red zone defense. While Jake Knott is out for the season, senior linebacker A.J. Klein leads the unit and is one of the premier linebackers in the country and the nation.
On special teams, the Cyclones feature a Ray Guy Award Semifinalist and All-American Candidate in junior punter Kirby Van Der Kamp, who averages 42-yards per punt.
The game is set for 3:30 p.m.
West Virginia Depth Chart:
QB - 12 Geno Smith, 14 Paul Millard, 7 Ford Childress
RB (A) - 13 Andrew Buie, 29 Dustin Garrison, 20 Shawne Alston
FB (B) - 32 Ryan Clarke, 88 Cody Clay, 30 Donovan Miles
WR (X) - 3 Stedman Bailey, 80 Ryan Nehlen
WR (Z) - 81 J.D. Woods, 85 Devonte Robinson
IR (H) - 83 Connor Arila, 15 Dante Campbell
IR (Y) - 1 Tavon Austin, 10 Jordan Thompson
LT - 67 Quinton Spain, 62 Curtis Feigt
LG - 77 Josh Jenkins, 67 Quinton Spain
C - 74 Joe Madsen, 60 John Bassler
RG - 57 Jeff Braun, 76 Pat Eger
RT - 62 Curtis Feigt, 79 Nick Kindler
DT - 99 Jorge Wright, 96 Korey Harris
NT - 90 Shaq Rowell, 95 Christian Brown
DE - 98 Will Clarke, 93 Kyle Rose
BUCK - 4 Josh Francis, 53 Tyler Anderson
STAR - 28 Terence Garvin, 37 Wes Tonkery
WILL - 33 Jared Barber, 47 Doug Rigg
SAM - 31 Isaiah Bruce, 36 Shaq Petteway
FCB - 34 Ishmael Banks, 23 Brodrick Jenkins
FS - 8 Karl Joseph, 9 KJ Dillon
BS - 24 Cecil Level, 25 Darwin Cook
BCB - 16 Terrell Chestnut, 6 Pat Miller, 7 Nana Kyeremeh
PK - 40 Tyler Bitancurt
P - 44 Corey Smith
KO - 44 Corey Smith
LS -87 John DePalma, 86 Jerry Cooper
H - 48 Michael Molinari
PR - 1 Tavon Austin, 10 Jordan Thompson
KR - 1 Tavon Austin, 10 Jordan Thompson
Thirteen true freshmen saw action in games this season: DL Christian Brown, LB Austin Copeland, WR Travares Copeland, LS John DePalma, S K.J. Dillon, DL Korey Harris, LB Garrett Hope, S Karl Joseph, DL Eric Kinsey, CB Nana Kyeremeh, WR Devonte Robinson, CB Ricky Rumph and WR Jordan Thompson. In all 21 first-time players saw action with LB Isaiah Bruce, WR Dante Campbell, FB Cody Clay, LS Jerry Cooper, LB Dozie Ezemma, OL Russell Haughton-James, OL Brandon Jackson, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, WR K.J. Myers, DL Kyle Rose and CB Ishmail Showell.
Fourteen Mountaineers have earned their first career start this season: Tyler Anderson (BUCK), Ishmael Banks (CB), Isaiah Bruce (LB), Dante Campbell (WR), Cody Clay (FB), Travares Copeland (WR), Karl Joseph (FS), Nick Kindler (OT), Nana Kyeremeh (CB), Cecil Level (S), Shaq Rowell (DL) and Jordan Thompson (WR).
Terrell Chestnut is now listed as the starter at boundary corner after getting his first start of the season against Oklahoma.
Injuries: Travis Bell, Avery Williams and Jewone Snow are out for the season.
Points to click:
Bring the same energy. West Virginia played with incredible effort against Oklahoma but fell short on the scoreboard. That same type of energy will be needed on the road in Ames if the Mountaineers want to end a five game losing streak and put themselves in position to get to a post-season bowl game.
KISS - Keep it Simple, Stupid. Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Geno Smith and a little JD Woods. WVU can't get cute and try to over think their approach to this game. Iowa State keeps points off the board but they give up a ton of yards. Let your playmakers make plays and execute in the red zone. This tends to be a winning recipe for the Mountaineers that we've not seen enough of during the recent 5 game slide.
Get Iowa State's offense off the field - It's not that ISU has a high powered offense but that their offense does enough to keep its defense off the field. That is taking nothing away from the number 30 scoring defense (22.8 points per game allowed) in the country but the steady nature in which Iowa State's offense operates eats clock and has kept high power Big 12 offense to near season low's.
If the Mountaineers are able to keep ISU near their season average of 25 points per game and keep their offense on the sidelines then West Virginia should be celebrating another Big 12 victory.
Build off the OU second half - Where has that offense been? Once again no disrespect to ISU but if the offense that showed up against OU in the second half shows up all game against ISU then this game should be over rather quickly. If not then the home crowd will have a lot to cheer about as the Cyclone defense will build nothing but confidence in themselves all game long.
Continue to run the football. Tavon Austin provided quite the spark in the backfield for the Mountaineers against Oklahoma and it opened up plays down the field due to the Sooners being forced to respect the run. The Mountaineers will need to effectively run the football again to take advantage of plays down the field.
Turnovers. Often a determining factor in football games, this one will be no different. On defense West Virginia needs to continue to swarm to the football and force turnovers, while offensively the Mountaineers need to protect the ball and avoid giving Iowa State any free points.