One team is looking for revenge, the other is hungry for a win.
That will be the situation when the West Virginia University football team travels to play at Texas Tech on Saturday. Last season the Red Raiders (1-3, 0-3 Big 12) gave the Mountaineers (3-1, 2-1) one of their worst defeats of the season in a 38-17 drubbing in Morgantown.
For their meeting this season, WVU is coming off of consecutive wins against Baylor and Kansas, while TTU is basically desperate for a win coming off of an off week after having suffered three-straight Big 12 losses.
“They’ve played a very difficult schedule,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said Tuesday. “I think their record doesn’t tell the story necessarily.”
TTU started its conference schedule by giving then-No. 8 Texas all they could handle, pushing the Longhorns into overtime before losing 63-56. In their next game, the Red Raiders trailed Kansas State by just three points heading into the fourth quarter before falling 31-21.
In Tech’s most recent game against Iowa State was when the wheels fell off a bit. The Cyclones went up 31-7 before Tech was able to score a garbage-time touchdown to make it 31-15.
After that third consecutive loss, TTU coach Matt Wells decided it was time for a change, naming Utah State transfer Henry Colombi the Red Raiders’ starting quarterback for this game against West Virginia.
Even with the quarterback change, Brown said he is still concerned about TTU’s offense.
“They’ll be the fastest tempo team we play all year,” Brown said. “I think they have one of the top O-lines in the Big 12. They really controlled the line of scrimmage against us last year.”
Brown was also complimentary of Texas Tech’s skill position players, saying that sophomore running back SaRodorick Thompson is an NFL-caliber player and the TTU wide receivers are matchup problems for defensive backs
“They’re talented and tall at wideout. They look like a basketball team,” Brown said. “Both those guys on the outside have made a bunch of plays and their slots had a field day against us last year.”
Thompson has rushed for 282 yards and four touchdowns this season. He started the season strong, rushing for over 100 yards in each of the team’s first two games, but ran for 46 yards against the Wildcats and just 14 yards against ISU. TTU’s outside receivers Erik Ezukanma (6-foot-3) and T.J. Vasher (6-foot-6) have combined for 458 yards and five touchdowns so far this season.
Defensively TTU is lead by linebacker Krishon Merriweather, a junior college transfer from Garden City Community College in Kansas. He leads the team with 33 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Overall, the Red Raider defense has not been all that dynamic, collecting just six sacks and four turnovers through four games.
West Virginia is led on offense by quarterback Jarret Doege who has 1,042 passing yards and eight touchdowns this season. Doege grew up in west Texas, watching his older brother, Seth, play quarterback for the Red Raiders from 2009-12.
Brown, too, has a connection to Lubbock, serving as the Red Raiders’ offensive coordinator from 2010-12 where he coached Seth Doege.
WVU and Texas Tech will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday from the Red Raiders’ Jones AT&T Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.