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WVU Relying on O-Line to Stave Off Familiar Texas Tech Defense



Both West Virginia head coach Neal Brown and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell spoke on the similarities between the Texas Tech and Baylor defenses during Tuesday’s news conference.

Harrell’s comments were a little more elaborate than Brown’s, but the pair recognized the Mountaineers may see the same aggressive qualities from Texas Tech that the Bears exhibited last week.

“Baylor played us a little different,” Harrell said. “They gave us a few more looks than we probably expected, but there’s only so many ways you can play defense. They’ll eventually get to a spot you’ve seen before.”

Texas Tech normally starts out in a three-down front defensively, but will also throw in a multiple look like many other teams do.

The Red Raiders regularly send pressure to the quarterback starting in their defensive line, which has combined for 96 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks. The secondary plays primarily man coverage that attempts to consistently challenge opposing receivers.

Texas Tech ranks second in the Big 12 after allowing 220.5 passing yards per game.

“Texas Tech will mix it up a lot more than what we’ve seen and will do it in different spots,” Harrell said. “The key is to try and recognize what we’re doing and get on the same page. We gotta focus on doing our jobs and we’ll be able to move the ball. That’s what we did with Baylor.”

Following a sluggish offensive performance against Texas, West Virginia used its bye week to get back on track in the win over Baylor, putting up 43 points and 500 total yards, all while staying balanced.

Just the way Brown likes it.

The Mountaineers rushed for 217 yards, led by a 167-yard, two-touchdown performance from Tony Mathis, and received 283 yards from the arm of JT Daniels. Brown was more emphatic on the run game after his offense combined for just 60 in the loss to the Longhorns, which stemmed from his offensive line.

WVU Football Center Zach Frazier on Success of Rushing Attack

“My thought going into the year was that we gotta be able to run the ball versus good people,” Brown said. “Against Pitt we were able to, and against Baylor we were able to, and they’re both good versus the run. (Texas Tech defensive coordinator) Coach (Tim) DeRuyter is good versus the run. The only game we didn’t perform was Texas.

“I have to give our guys credit, we challenged them. They answered the bell. For us to be successful, we gotta lean on them. They’ve gotta be our strength and be full of consistency.”

Brown pointed that blocking will lead to an advantage in the game, as Texas Tech currently sits ninth in the conference with 145.6 rush yards allowed per game.

Though the statistics may not match the profile, the Red Raiders perform solid at defensive end, with Tyree Wilson ranking second on Texas Tech with 37 tackles, including registering a league-leading nine tackles for a loss and enters Saturday tied fourth in the FBS and second in the Big 12 with 1.0 sacks per game.

This puts an emphasis at the tight end spot, but with starter Mike O’Laughlin suffering a season-ending ACL injury, the Mountaineers have big shoes to fill in the lineup. Brian Polendey is next up on the depth chart.

“After another offseason, we knew where we needed to be,” Brown said. “We had to get another blocker at tight end. If you can remember, we didn’t have a tight end in the bowl game (last year). We were playing without one. We’ll have to adjust for it.”

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