Game Preview: WVU vs. KU

Game Preview: WVU vs. KU
Series: WVU 1-0
Last meeting: 1941: WVU 21 KU 0
Television: 3:30 p.m., ABC (Steve Physioc - play-by-play, Brian Baldinger - analyst, Jim Knox - sideline)
Line: -21.5 West Virginia
In the final home game inside Milan Puskar Stadium for 22 seniors, West Virginia will look to secure win No. 7 on the season against Kansas (1-10, 0-8) and finish the season strong.
Kansas is led by head coach Charlie Weis, who's coached as an offensive coordinator in the NFL with the Patriots and Chiefs along with a head coaching stop at Notre Dame. Considered a great-offensive mind, Weis inherited the Jayhawks program last winter after coming over as the offensive coordinator at Florida; he previously spent five seasons at Notre Dame compiling a 35-27 mark.
The Jayhawks will start redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Cummings and to this point he's thrown for 380-yards and four touchdowns, but the strength of the offense is on the ground with Kansas running the zone read and pounding the football.
The run game is fueled by a two-headed monster with junior James Sims rushing for 956 yards and eight touchdowns on the season and sophomore Tony Pierson netting another 730 yards and four scores for the Jayhawks on the ground.
Defensively the Jayhawks are led by Dave Campo, who's had a long NFL career including two-seasons as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and defensive coordinator for multiple teams. Kansas will primarily use a base defense, relying mostly on zone and like Iowa State last weekend becomes very stringent in the red zone clamping down on opponents from scoring.
This marks the second meeting between the two programs and the first between the two head coaches, as the Mountaineers defeated the Jayhawks 21-0 in 1941.
As the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, head coach Dana Holgorsen faced Kansas twice winning 30-17 in Lubbock with the Red Raiders in 2005 and then defeating the Jayhawks in Lawrence 48-14 in 2010 with the Cowboys.
The game is set for 2:30 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 - 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).
Notable changes:
Injuries: Travis Bell, Avery Williams and Jewone Snow are out for the season. Ishmael Banks is out for the Kansas game.
Points to click:
Close strong. West Virginia secured bowl eligibility a week ago against Iowa State, and while that is reason to celebrate the Mountaineers must come focused against a Kansas team that while hasn't had success in the win/loss column has been very competitive. As head coach Dana Holgorsen said this week, 7-5 is a lot different than 6-6 around the Puskar Center and the opportunity will be there for the Mountaineers to increase their bowl profile.
Keep emotions in check. With 22 seniors set to play their final home game, emotions will run high. West Virginia must keep those under control and play their game to avoid any penalties or mistakes.
Turnovers. Something that can change any football game, West Virginia must avoid giving the ball away and attempt to force some turnovers from the Jayhawks.
Score six instead of three. Like Iowa State, Kansas is very good defensively once teams get inside the 20-yard line and when the Mountaineers get in the red zone they need to score touchdowns instead of field goals. The Jayhawks have been competitive in many Big 12 games and even have had opportunities to win at least three, but the Mountaineers can end any hopes by scoring and scoring in bunches.
Stay the course - Kansas is going to go out and try to prove to the Big 12 that they belong. It's been a long hard season for them. They've gone head to head with Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State and almost pulled out the upset and they've been destroyed by Oklahoma, Kansas State and Iowa State. You can't expect this Jayhawk team to just roll over and die because they've only won one game this year. There is too much pride in any major college football team to not show up and give anyone a game, especially their last one. I expect Kansas to come out with a fire to end the season on a high note. Saturday will be there bowl game. WVU will have to execute their game plan and not get caught up in the idea that they are going to just roll over a 1-10 team.
Strength against Strength - It's safe to say that Kansas is not a very good passing team, but they have had success this season running the football. James Sims is trying to be the first Jayhawk to rush for over a thousand yards in a season since 2007. On the other side of the ball the Mountaineer defense has held its own against the rush. If WVU can keep Kansas from getting to third and shorts while forcing the Jayhawks to throw the ball in obvious situations then you should see more three and outs than usual.
Don't allow Dayne Crist to be anything other than Dayne Crist - While the Kansas quarterback had a good sophomore year at Notre Dame, after transferring to Kansas he has struggled all season. Throughout the 2012 season WVU has helped average quarterbacks looks like world beaters. The Mountaineers have to continue to progress on defense and shut down Crist completely in the pass game. The Mountaineer front 7 is going to have to play the run against Kansas so the secondary might not get much help in pass defense.