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Mountaineers Look to get Back on Track Against Texas Tech

Christopher Hall

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Alex Comer @alexcomer_

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Kickoff: Noon est

TV: ESPNU

Game Time Weather: Sunny/71º

Season Overview

Points Per Game 46.8 43.8
Points Allowed Per Game 27.8 26.4
Total Yards 549.8 577.4
Yards Passing 386.6 364.2
Yards Rushing 163.2 213.2
Yards Allowed 437.4 442.0
Pass Yards Allowed 299.0 227.2
Rush Yards Allowed 138.4 214.8

 

 

West Virginia hosts No. 24 Texas Tech this homecoming weekend.  The Mountaineers are 4-2 all-time against the Red Raiders and are on a four-game winning streak after dropping the first two contests since joining the Big XII.

Texas Tech has exceeded expectations to start the season and currently sit 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big XII.

It’s not the 4-1 record that is surprising, considering the Red Raiders schedule.  It’s how they have won their games and the competitive showing against Oklahoma State.

Texas Tech’s defense has improved from finishing as the worst defense in the country last season to more of a respectable unit in 2017.   The defense is still in the bottom half of every statistical category in the Big XII – except for turnovers – where they lead the conference with 14 and a +9 turnover ratio.

The Red Raider defense has improved, starting with getting to the quarterback (11 sacks) and disrupting plays in the backfield (26 tackles for a loss).  Defensive End Eli Howard leads the team in sacks with 2.5 and defensive end Tony Jones is second on the list with 2.

Linebacker Jordyn Brooks leads the team in tackles (42) while his counterpart, Dakota Allen, leads the team in interceptions (2).

The secondary is led by Jah’Shawn Johnson with 3 pass breakups and 3 deflections.

The offense that’s known for throwing the ball all over the field has started to establish the running game as well.  They are up to 163.2 yards a game this season led by Justin Stockton, whom averages 6.8 yards a carry and can also catch the ball out of the backfield. Stockton has 17 catches for 164 yards and a touchdown on the year.  Desmond Nisby and Trey King also share the load in the backfield.

If you are looking for Texas Tech’s big-time playmaker, look no further than wide receiver Keke Coutee, averaging 117. 2 yards a game by finding space in the secondary and making plays with his speed.

Nic Shimonek (1,811 yards,14 TD, 3 INT) has spread the ball around to his receivers and has done it a high percentage (71.8%).  He has big targets in 6’3” 220-lbs Dylan Cantrell (22 rec, 322 yards, 3TD) and 6”4 210-lbs Derrick Willies (16 rec, 285 yards, 3TD).  Also, has another speedster that is second in receptions (27) in Cameron Batson.

Shimonek had big shoes to fill, replacing current NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes.  He has done an excellent job leading the Red Raider offense that ranks 7th in the nation in total offense.  Nic is not as mobile as Mahomes was, but can pick a defense apart from the pocket.

The West Virginia defense got back to their “DAWGS” mentality last week with the return of linebacker David Long.  They showed improvement against TCU after a slow start in the first four games of the season.  The defense will have to improve again this week if they want to have the type of showing they had last year in Lubbock, holding the 2016 #1 offense in the county to just 379 yards in 17 points.

Tony Gibson’s defense needs to create some turnovers to help give the offense some good field position to capitalize on.

The offense has been good this season and it shows with the #3 ranking in total offense in the country.  I look for quarterback Will Grier to have one of his best games of the year after missing some throws last week in Ft. Worth. And I expect a big game from the stable of running backs at offensive coordinator Jake Spaivtal’s disposal, especially Justin Crawford that will have his 6th straight 100-yard game.

 

Texas Tech’s defense may have improved and they might not have lost much on offense, but I have the Mountaineers winning big on homecoming weekend 49-24.

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