The West Virginia Mountaineers begin Big 12 play in Lawrence, KS when they play the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday at 4:30PM.
Les Miles is back in College Football this season as he has started off on the right foot with Kansas after his time off from football. Mountaineer fans remember Miles when he led his LSU Tigers into Morgantown back in 2011 when ESPN College Gameday came and LSU beat WVU 47-21. Miles won two SEC Championships and a National Championship at LSU before being fired just four games into the 2016 season after a shaky start. But we all know he possesses a high football IQ and knows how to coach. He brings on D.J. Eliot at defensive coordinator, who previously was coaching at Colorado and Kentucky, and was under West Virginia native, Jimbo Fisher, at Florida State. The biggest change for Kansas fans is that they switched their defensive scheme to the 3-4. Kansas has mainly been running a 3-4 scheme on defense, which is new to them this year, so you can expect lots of blitzing coming from different sides on the field at any given moment which is meant to confuse the opposing quarterback and offensive line.
Through 3 games, Kansas ranks 69th nationally in total defense. They have allowed 1,103 yards so far this season, and are allowing on average 367.7 yards per game and 4.97 yards per play. Last week in their 48-24 win over Boston College, the Jayhawks only allowed 219 passing yards which was impressive but did allow 228 yards rushing which could be where West Virginia intends to attack this defense.
Names to watch:
Darrius Moragne, defensive end, already has eleven tackles and two sacks so far this season, he brings speed off the end and can fill in gaps. Jelani Brown and Malcolm Lee are the big boys in the middle at defensive tackle and will push around the young Mountaineer offensive line.
Linebacker Dru Prox currently sits as the Big 12 leader in tackles so far this season with 30. He is all over the field on every play and is a carbon copy to Joe Dineen, who was a tackling machine for the Jayhawks. Kyron Johnson and Azur Kamara are also linebackers who can create negative plays and flock to the ball.
Cornerback Hasan Defense leads the team with one interception so far this season which he did return for a 57 yard touchdown. Defense was a thorn in Will Grier’s side last year intercepting two passes a knocking down several other passes. Bryce Torneden and Mike Lee are the starting safeties for the Jayhawks, and both are top five on the team in tackles. Their corners play solid defense so it allows their safeties to go in on run support and make tackles and lessen chances for big plays for opponents.
The Mountaineers were able to find their running game last week against NC State, and will need it to stick around against Kansas. Last week, Boston College was able to rush for 228 yards, so it can be done. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the breakout game for Austin Kendall. This is the perfect chance for Head Coach Neal Brown to unleash Kendall’s arm strength and pick apart this Kansas secondary. Since Kansas plays the 3-4, I can see West Virginia using the run game early to set up play-action later in the game for big plays.
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