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Weather: Sunny/High 90º F/Low 65º F
Wind: SE 16-22 mph gusts
West Virginia meets Kansas this Saturday for the 7th time in program history and the Mountaineers lead the all-time series 5-1. They first met back in 1941 in Morgantown at old Mountaineer Field and West Virginia went onto win 21-0.
Both programs are opening up conference play this weekend. Kansas finished up non-conference play at 1-2, with their only win coming against FCS opponent Southeast Missouri State to open the season. The Jayhawks would go on to lose the next two games to Central Michigan and Ohio.
Though the record doesn’t reflect it, Kansas is steadily improving. Head Coach David Beatty has the Jayhawks football program going in the right direction but despite the optimism, Kansas still has a long road ahead.
The Jayhawks got an upgrade at the quarterback position, bringing in Peyton Bender from Itawamba Community College. He is proving to be a gunslinger, going 85-146 (58.3%) for 1,030 yards, 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
The talent at receiver has improved as well and Kansas has more than just one player that can make plays. Steven Sims Jr. is the play-maker on the outside, averaging a little over 20 yards per reception and has 2 touchdowns on the year. Ben Johnson compliments Sims on the other side as along with Jeremiah Booker. Quan Hampton leads the team in receptions with 15 catches.
Kansas has not had much of a rushing attack due to its young and inexperienced offensive line but with West Virginia 9th in the Big XII in rushing defense, this could be a game where the Jayhawks find some running room. Dom Williams will carry the load for the Jayhawks and Khalil Herbert can be that homerun hitter in the backfield.
The defense has had its struggles as a unit ranking in the bottom half of the Big 12 in every statistical category. They do have some playmakers on the defensive side, most notably Linebacker Joe Dineen Jr and defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr.
Will Grier and the offense should be able to move the ball without much resistance from the Kansas defense. The Jayhawks are last in the conference in pass defense and 7th in rush defense.
Kansas does have the ability to move the ball through the air and the Mountaineers have had some struggles stopping the big play from the passing game. This could be a problem for Tony Gibson’s defense, but it seems that the Mountaineers have started to find the defensive backs they want on the field. Freshman Kenny Robinson has taking over the starting role at corner for the second straight week. With some consistency among the personnel in the secondary, the communication should improve and better results should follow.
I have West Virginia starting off strong this week after a slow start against Delaware State last week. The offense will look like the juggernaut they have for most of the year and the defense shows improvement.
Mountaineers roll in Lawrence 59-27.