football

Ask the Expert: West Virginia

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To get the inside scoop on West Virginia, we went to an expert on
Mountaineer football --
Keenan Cummings with WVUSports.com -- with questions
about ISU and Saturday's game in Lubbock.
West Virginia was hoping for a better start to the season, but the Mountaineers
are 3-0 at home, including a win over Oklahoma State. Do you feel like the
players are confident heading into this game, knowing the amount of success
they've had in their home stadium up to this point?
KC: "I do think that the players are confident. Talking to them
yesterday, they have the same kind of resolve they had, because earlier in the
year, they quite frankly got embarrassed in Maryland. They were beat 37 -
nothing, and came back the next week home and upset Oklahoma State. Obviously
every game is different, but I think the players put what happened at Baylor
behind them, and they're looking forward to this game.
"Obviously these two teams
are very familiar with each other, as you know very well, a lot of similarities
on offense, on defense, so I think the players are excited and looking forward
to this game."
What do you think was the main focus of this bye week in preparation for
Texas Tech?
KC: "The main focus of the bye week was to get West Virginia
healthy. They've been through six games, and it's been rough, a lot of injuries.
Two of the quarterbacks were hurt. Clint Trickett had a sprained AC joint and he
should be good to go now. One of the best defenders, Nick Kwiatkoski, was out
with a hamstring. They had a bunch of other guys with bumps and bruises, so they
got healthy over the bye week.
"There's only about two or three players that
should miss the game. Clint will play, a couple of other guys will play that
have been missing, but other than that, outside of the general getting healthy,
it was kind of getting focused on what they need to do.
"I was talking with Coach
yesterday, and some things they discussed was tackling, and that had been a
strong point through the first three games. The last three games were very
spotty, had a lot of missed tackles. Basically a lot of that stuff, a lot of
fundamental stuff, basically that kind of thing, and then this week, prep for
Texas Tech really starting to begin."
Which quarterback do you feel gives West Virginia the best chance to win on
Saturday?
KC: "I think given the offensive line, they've had some issues
up front, I think you have to go with Clint Trickett, especially if he's
healthy. Just because he's a guy that can extend plays. He's not ever going to
be confused with Michael Vick, you know, he's not going to get out there and run
around for 100 yards a game, but he's a guy that can extend a play, make
something happen with his feet, and find his receivers down the field.
Paul
Millard is another guy that's kind of a safe option. You kind of know what
you're going to get with Paul, he's never going necessarily 'wow' you, but he
doesn't make a lot of mistakes. Either of those guys, you worry a little bit
more with Ford just because he's a younger guy, doesn't really have the
experience, and he's dealing with a pectoral injury that happened in the
Maryland game.
"I think you got to go this week either with Clint or Paul. Dana
hasn't necessarily announced his decision yet, but I'm fully expecting it to be
Clint."
Who would you say is the X-factor for this game?
KC: "That's a good question, I think not necessarily a player,
but a unit. I think West Virginia's offensive line needs to play very well,
they've struggled at times, they've really struggled run blocking, pass blocking
they've been alright. They haven't necessarily given up a lot of sacks, but run
blocking, they haven't been able to create creases for the running backs. If
they can strive for some balance a little bit, be able to run the football, I
think West Virginia is going to be able to have a good game offensively.
"Overall, I think it's going to be how West Virginia contains Jace Amaro."
Best-case scenario?
KC: "First of all, they get out, they put some points up on the
board early. That's something that West Virginia struggled with a little bit,
getting on the board. Even one touchdown to start the game gives this offense
some confidence. They walked away feeling pretty good about what they were able
to do in the second half against Baylor, but granted the score, what was going
on, it's hard to really take that and move forward positively.
"I think if West
Virginia can up early, get the fans in the game, it's homecoming, a lot of fans
are going to be there, they're going to be excited, especially after what
happened last year down there in Lubbock. So if West Virginia can get on the
board early, be able to contain this Tech offense, possibly rattle one of the
young freshman quarterbacks, the guy that ends up starting, force him into some
mistakes because this is their first real road test, I guess you could say. But
then you can kind of build some momentum and win the game there."
Worst-case?
KC: "I think it's exactly the opposite. Tech comes out, they
score, get up on West Virginia early, force West Virginia to try to be
one-dimensional, once that happens I think things will kind of tumble downhill.
West Virginia has been night and day defensively the first five games compared
to last season, and in the Baylor game, some of that stuff popped up again that
you saw last season. Guys running free down the middle of the field, that kind
of stuff can happen. I think West Virginia is going to have to control the run
game for Texas Tech. I think if Texas Tech is balanced, it's going to be along
day for West Virginia."
Final prediction?
KC: "I think this is an interesting game. I think both of these
teams know each other very well, I think one of the X-factors I talked about
early is going to be Texas Tech, I want to see how their quarterbacks respond on
the road. I know they've played very well this season but I'd like to see how
they handle that environment. Coming into this game, I think it's really hard, I
think you can go either way with this one.
"I think West Virginia is going to
bounce back and play better, but Texas Tech has played really good football this
season, and until I see how they're going to defend them once the game begins,
I'm going to have to go probably Texas Tech 35, West Virginia 28."
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