A year ago, the Texas Longhorns’ season hung in the balance when they travelled to Morgantown to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers. Quarterback Will Grier was injured early in the game and the Longhorns managed to pull out a win and gain bowl eligibility.
This year the Longhorns are already bowl eligible, but their season seems to be on a precipice all the same.
Coming off of a tough road loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, with a win on Saturday the Texas Longhorns remain in the driver’s seat to play for their first conference championship since the 2009 season. Grier is healthy and playing lights-out this year, ranking No. 5 in the nation in passing yards per-game and No. 6 in passing TDs, picking up where he left off when he was injured a year ago.
He boasts an impressive squad of receivers to throw to, with all three of his top targets, David Sills V, Marcus Simms, and Gary Jennings Jr. all ranking in the top-100 nationally in receiving yards per game. Sills and Jennings rank Nos. 5 and 9 respectively in the country in touchdown receptions as well.
However, one of the biggest secrets to success that WVU brings to the table is their ability to keep opponents out of the end zone. The Mountaineers rank No. 1 in the Big 12 in scoring defense, allowing just 19.2 yards per game this season. A major factor is their ability to play in opponent’s backfields, ranking No. 4 nationally in tackles for loss, averaging more than nine per game.
- Still trying to put the Oklahoma State loss into perspective? Here’s where to focus:
The Longhorns bounced back from a miserable loss at Maryland and put it behind them, dedicated to the 1-0 mantra that Herman has instilled. Texas didn’t listen to the narrative surrounding the team after struggling with Tulsa. With no way of knowing that USC and TCU would later stumble this season, the Longhorns came ready to play when the Trojans and Horned Frogs arrived in Austin ranked in the Top 25 and won. When Texas had to travel to Kansas State, a place with more ghosts and skeletons than your favorite haunted house, the Longhorns got gritty and left with a win for the first time in 16 years. And when the Longhorns arrived in Dallas to take on Oklahoma, Texas absolutely rag-dolled the Sooners for 50 of the game’s 60 minutes, and handled business in a clutch moment.
- Texas was ready to play against Oklahoma State, but simply beat itself:
Did Oklahoma State dominate Texas throughout the first three and a half quarters? Yes, but it did so with a mind-boggling abundance of help from self-inflicted wounds by its opponent, ranging from missed tackles to blown coverage assignments to mental miscues to a double-digit collection of penalties
“Pretty much you can’t check on the first play of a series, because by the time they get out there and they give the defense time to get out there and the play clock’s been running, almost you’re out of time. You just have to get out there and snap the ball.”
So expect to see more “call-it-and-haul-it” plays from Texas for the rest of the season — plays that work well against virtually any defensive call.
Frankly, I have no idea. This is a huge game. I don’t believe that Texas has a huge home field advantage, so environment isn’t as big of a factor as in Ames to me. Again, a huge key is offensive line play for West Virginia. If Texas is able to bully at the line of scrimmage, it will be a long day for the visitors in Austin. However, I think a lot of the concepts from the demolition of Baylor will carry over and West Virginia survives its biggest test to date.
- David Sills V leads a West Virginia wide receiver corps that boats two other big-time playmakers.
- Star running back Noah Cain headlines a big-time visitor list for Saturday’s game.
- Will Grier will pose a major challenge for the Longhorns defense, while the Mountaineers defense will provide an unusual scheme for Herman and offensive coordinator Tim Beck to unlock.
- Texas is trending in the wrong direction in the two most important facets of playing defense in the Big 12.
- Freshman WR Joshua Moore (shoulder) — out
- Sophomore OL Patrick Hudson (illness) — out
- Freshman TE Rob Cummins (knee) — out
- Junior S Brandon Jones (ankle) — Not participating in warmups
- Junior LB Malcolm Roach (foot) — Available but limited
- Senior DT Chris Nelson (ankle) — Available
- Senior DE Breckyn Hager (SC sprain) — Will play
- Freshman WR D’Shawn Jamison (mid-foot sprain) — Will play
How to Watch:
Time: 2:30 p.m. Central
Radio: Texassports.com. Broadcasts are also available on Sirius 132, XM 199, and App Ch. 953
Online Streaming: WatchESPN
Odds: Texas -2
Weather: High of 76 degrees and a 30% chance of thunderstorms
Longhorn City Limits: Dalton Domino will open for Hayes Carll.