Game Preview: WVU vs. Texas Tech
Series: West Virginia 1-0
Last meeting: 1938: WVU 7, TTU 6 F
Television: 3:30 p.m., ABC (Sean McDonough - play-by-play, Chris Spielman - analyst, Quint Kessenich- sideline)
Line: - 4 West Virginia
After an emotional victory at Texas a week ago, No. 4/5 West Virginia (5-0, 2-0) won't have any time to celebrate because the Mountaineers are back on the road this weekend for a Big 12 Conference tilt with Texas Tech (4-1, 1-1) at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen was an assistant coach at Texas Tech from 2000-2007 serving as both the co-offensive coordinator and inside wide receivers coach. It will mark the third time that Holgorsen has matched up with his former team since his departure and the second-year head coach is 2-0 in those meetings.
But don't expect any nostalgic feelings for the Mountaineers head man.
"I'm not going to think twice about it, I'm over that," he said.
With the game stuck between last week's high-energy road game against Texas and a potential top five matchup with Kansas State in Morgantown next weekend, it has all the makings of a trap game. But according to Holgorsen, West Virginia can't afford to either look behind or ahead.
"You play the same every week. If you don't have the ability to understand that every week is the same and you've got to be able to trust your players and coaches and everybody that's involved to do the same thing every week or you get beat," he said.
The Red Raiders are coached by Tommy Tuberville, who's compiled a career record of 127-73 in 17 seasons, including an impressive stint at Auburn. Since his arrival at Texas Tech three seasons ago, Tuberville has led the Red Raiders to a 17-13 mark, including 6-13 in Big 12 Conference play.
The Red Raiders started the season 4-0 with the nation's top ranked defense, but ran into a buzz saw at home last weekend against Oklahoma, turning the ball over three times en route to losing 41-20.
Senior quarterback Seth Doege headlines an experienced Texas Tech offense that features a group of talented wide receivers. Doege has thrown for 15 touchdowns against 6 interceptions, for a total of 1,392 yards while completing 69-percent of his passes.
The Red Raiders will run a similar offensive system to West Virginia and like the Mountaineers will vary their tempo. Thus far, Texas Tech is averaging right around 39 points and 500-yards per contest.
After a disastrous season on the defensive side of the ball last year, Texas Tech currently ranks second in the country in total defense, allowing only 210-yards per game. And while they don't dial up much pressure, they are very sound at what they do and will present a different challenge for the Mountaineers offense after seeing the Texas pressure a week ago.
The Red Raiders have been particularly strong through the air, giving up only 117-yards per game and four touchdowns on the season.
"So people haven't moved the ball on them and we were in here yesterday for about 16-hours trying to think of creative ways to get first downs," he said.
The game is set for 3:30 p.m.
Injuries to watch for West Virginia will be the continued improvement to a thigh bruise suffered by senior running back Shawne Alston. The running back has missed the past three games and continues to be monitored on a week to week basis. Free safety Travis Bell also continues to recover after missing the previous two games.
West Virginia Depth Chart:
QB - 12 Geno Smith, 14 Paul Millard, 7 Ford Childress
RB (A) - 20 Shawne Alston, 13 Andrew Buie, 29 Dustin Garrison
FB (B) - 32 Ryan Clarke, 88 Cody Clay, 30 Donovan Miles
WR (X) - 3 Stedman Bailey, 5 Ivan McCartney
WR (Z) - 81 J.D. Woods, 80 Ryan Nehlen
IR (H) - 10 Jordan Thompson, 15 Dante Campbell
IR (Y) - 1 Tavon Austin, 2 Travares Copeland
LT - 67 Quinton Spain, 79 Nick Kindler
LG - 77 Josh Jenkins, 67 Quinton Spain
C - 74 Joe Madsen, 60 John Bassler
RG - 57 Jeff Braun, Pat Eger
RT - 76 Pat Eger, 62 Curtis Feigt
DT - 99 Jorge Wright, 45 Eric Kinsey
NT - 90 Shaq Rowell, 95 Christian Brown
DE - 98 Will Clarke, 93 Kyle Rose
BUCK - 4 Josh Francis, 53 Tyler Anderson, 59 Chidoziem Ezemma
STAR - 28 Terence Garvin, 37 Wes Tonkery
WILL - 47 Doug Rigg, 56 Jewone Snow, 36 Shaq Petteway
SAM - 31 Isaiah Bruce, 56 Jewone Snow, 33 Jared Barber
FCB - 23 Brodrick Jenkins, 15 Ricky Rumph, 24 Cecil Level
FS - 8 Karl Joseph, 34 Ishmael Banks
BS - 25 Darwin Cook, 9 KJ Dillon
BCB - 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, 3 Stedman Bailey
Ten true freshmen saw action in one of the first two games this season: DL Christian Brown, LS John DePalma, S K.J. Dillon, DL Korey Harris, LB Garrett Hope, S Karl Joseph, DL Eric Kinsey, CB Nana Kyeremeh, 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.
Six Mountaineers have earned their first career start this season: Tyler Anderson (BUCK), Isaiah Bruce (LB), Cody Clay (FB), Karl Joseph (FS), Shaq Rowell (DL) and Jordan Thompson (WR).
Ivan McCartney moves over from the Z wide receiver position where he was behind J.D. Woods and now serves as the primary backup at the X spot behind Stedman Bailey taking KJ Myers place. Ryan Nehlen is now listed as the backup at the Z position.
True freshman wide receiver Travares Copeland makes his first appearance as the backup behind Tavon Austin at the inside Y position. Copeland has yet to play a snap this season, and it will be something to watch to see if the Mountaineers burn his redshirt.
Both offensive tackles, Quinton Spain and Pat Eger, now serve as the primary backups at each respective guard spot.
Inside linebacker Jewone Snow is now listed as the backup at both the WILL and the SAM positions after only being listed at SAM last week.
Ishmael Banks slides back over from field cornerback to the backup free safety behind Karl Joseph, while true freshman Ricky Rumph is now listed as the backup at field corner behind Brodrick Jenkins.
Points to click:
Don't get trapped. It's been thrown around all week and coaches/players have quickly shot it down; the infamous trap game. Because of the emotions involved in road games like the one West Virginia is coming off against Texas and the hype surrounding the potential matchup with Kansas State, it's easy to get caught looking elsewhere but the task at hand. However, the coaching staff has made it clear that there are no trap games because every game is as important as the next one. But talk is just that, talk. It will be up to the Mountaineers to put any reasons for concern to rest.
Start fast. The best way to neutralize a crowd on the road is to make plays and that's exactly what West Virginia did early against Texas. While the Longhorns were able to make some plays to get the 101,000 back into the game, a fast start could go a long ways towards a victory this Saturday.
Get the QB. West Virginia has been successful getting pressure on the quarterback through its first five games, and that must happen against Texas Tech to avoid Doege from sitting in the pocket and picking apart the Mountaineers secondary. Unlike the past two matchups, Doege isn't necessarily known for his ability to move around in the pocket, so once West Virginia defenders get there they must bring him down to the turf.
Stop the run. It's been the strong-point of the West Virginia defense so far this season and that will need to continue against the Red Raiders. While Texas Tech isn't going to run the football as much as Texas does, it will be essential for the Mountaineers to make the Red Raiders one dimensional to allow some of the pressure that Joe DeForest will dial up to hit home and force them into making plays behind the chains.
Turnovers. It's a stat that never goes overlooked. West Virginia must take care of the football and try to force turnovers, especially in a hostile road environment.
Avoid big plays through the air. It's obviously been the Achilles heel of the West Virginia defense this year, but Texas Tech isn't afraid to throw the ball and go downfield. The Mountaineers don't want to find themselves in another shootout on the road, and will need to make plays on the ball and prevent anything close to what happened against Baylor. While the offense has the ability to match score for score with any team in the country, it's not something you want to see on a weekly basis.
Strive for balance. West Virginia is extremely difficult to stop when it runs the football like it did against Texas and continuing that momentum will be key against a Texas Tech defense that ranks high nationally.