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What does WVU have to do in order to come away from Lubbock with a victory and remain undefeated?
1. Offense must keep Texas Tech defense guessing
Through the first four games of the season, WVU's offense has shown several different methods of exploiting the defenses that they've faced. A wide open passing game with screens, short crosses, deep balls was the early methodology. Then in the Texas game, WVU showed the ability to absolutely gash the defense with the run game. This is the most diverse offense WVU has ever featured and it has the ability to exploit whatever the defense gives it. With Tech's ability to stop the pass, this game may need all of that diversity. Staples added this stat in this week's power rankings:
When the Mountaineers keep running the ball, they win. Only twice in Holgorsen's tenure have the Mountaineers attempted fewer than 25 rushes. In both of those games (against LSU and Syracuse last year), West Virginia lost. Against Maryland -- West Virginia's worst offensive performance of 2012 -- the Mountaineers attempted only 25 runs. Against Clemson in the Orange Bowl, they attempted 43. Against Texas on Saturday, they attempted 42.
2. Geno and the receivers continue doing what they do best
Tech does an excellent job defending the pass, coming into this game ranked 1st nationally. What Oklahoma exposed last week was their missed tackles. Thankfully this is an area where Geno and the receiving corps excel. Geno gets the ball to the receivers with uncanny timing and positioning of the ball, allowing their natural slipperiness to take effect. How well Tech tackles could go a long way to determining the outcome.
3. WVU Defense must get the 3rd down stops
This is a broken record, but it bears repeating. Tech is converting almost 58% of their 3rd downs thus far this season. WVU does do well in pressuring the quarterback, but the coverage must be there too. Definite improvement was made last week against Texas, but the linebackers need to help the cause here too, as they were the victims of a couple big blown coverages in Austin.
4. Kicking game has to improve
Having two kicks blocked in a single game and still coming out on top against an extremely talented team is impressive. The result was Holgorsen going for it on fourth down for the rest of the game and winning those gambles. The Mountaineers can't be expected to be perfect on fourth down every game. Or can they? The percentages played into his favor, but a reliable basic kicking game is essential to the long term success of this team.
5. WVU can't get caught looking ahead
One thing that I've learned to love about this year's team and Coach Holgorsen is their ability to focus on the task at hand. It all starts with the head coach and I believe he and the staff do an excellent job of keeping the team focused. That said, these are still college kids, but I don't think keeping these specific kids focused is as much a task as other WVU teams in the past. This team seems to "get it."