Considering the circumstances, West Virginia’s upcoming game with Virginia Tech is one the Mountaineers have to win, but it certainly won’t be easy by any means.
Here are the three key things WVU must do to beat the Hokies and successfully defend the Black Diamond Trophy.
Establish the run early
WVU’s run game has been better than some may have thought entering the season. There was uncertainty around Tony Mathis and if he could step up as the featured back. He has and he’s been joined by CJ Donaldson as his co-star too. But the Virginia Tech defense will be the West Virginia running back duo’s toughest test yet.
Establishing the run early will help quarterback JT Daniels and the passing game. It will keep the defense honest. If that happens, Tech’s only hope would then be trying to create turnovers in the secondary.
Take care of the ball
This may sound cliche, and it can be said as a key in every game, but minimizing turnovers is really a necessity against Virginia Tech, especially at Lane Stadium. While the Hokies home field advantage hasn’t been as strong in recent years, it still won’t be easy trying to deal with the extreme house in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech’s defense will try to take advantage of the crowd and get JT Daniels off his game. Daniels has been great so far and is a veteran, but he has thrown an interception that led to both of WVU’s losers.
Get pressure on the QB
Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells has been stellar so far this season and he is highly motivated to beat WVU, but he is prone to the occasionally interception. He threw 13 of them last season with Marshall.
There’s always the possibility a player could get too focused on the personal aspect of a game that he presses. If that happens, WVU’s defense, even one that’s missing Charles Woods, could take over. Dante Stills and the Mountaineers were able to bring the heat to Pitt quarterback Kedon Slovis, recording 5 sacks. They then failed to convert a sack the next week against Kansas’ Jalon Daniels. If we don’t see a similar experience as the Brawl, it could be a very long night for WVU.
One thing that’s usually common to most West Virginia-Virginia matchups over the years, and definitely was to last year’s game, nothing will go exactly as planned. Expect the unexpected in a game like this.
Kickoff between the Mountaineers and Hokies is set for 7:30 pm and will be televised on ESPN.