West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders Preview

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Mountaineers brew another upset in Morgantown and exact a bit of revenge for last season? Here's a look at what they're up against.

Kliff Kingsbury brings his undefeated and 15th/16th ranked Red Raiders into Morgantown for the first time and their first trip to the Eastern Time zone since 2008. West Virginia will be looking to get back on track after a much needed week off following a curb-stomping at the hands of Baylor. The Mountaineers will also be looking to avenge last season's loss in Lubbock (coincidentally also their homecoming last year).

The Red Raiders are coming off of a close victory against Iowa State where Davis Webb threw for more than 400 yards in his first start. While Tech is experiencing similar quarterback issues as WVU with injuries to Baker Mayfield and starting freshmen, they are getting much better production from their young signal callers. Mayfield returned to practice this week, but his game status is still uncertain at the time of this writing. Kingsbury has them going at a blistering pace as well, averaging over 100 plays on offense the last two games.

Whomever the starting quarterback is, he will have plenty of targets to throw to, starting with the obvious one in Jace Amaro (47 for 606 yds & 1 TD). West Virginia hasn't been able to cover a tight end as long as I can remember, dating back to the early Nehlen years and Amaro will give the Mountaineer defense fits all day. Other receivers of note include Eric Ward (34 for 404 yds & 3 TDs), Jakeem Grant (30 for 394 yds & 3 TDs) and Bradley Marquez (25 for 342 yds & 5 TDs).

Kingsbury, like his mentor Holgorsen, will also make a point to run the ball behind a thin-in-numbers yet effective offensive line who may only play 5 or 6 different players. The rushing game is led by DeAndre Washington (53 for 207 yds & 4 TDs) and Kenny Williams (58 for 198 yds & 4 TDs).

One reason for Tech's early successes has been their defense's ability to get off the field on 3rd down. They are allowing only a 27% conversion rate, good for 7th in the nation. This doesn't bode well for a Mountaineer offense only converting 29% of their attempts (113th in the nation).

As far as special teams go, Texas Tech looked solid all around until last week when they experienced a couple of kickoff return breakdowns and punt return breakdowns. Changes have reportedly been made, but this is an area that WVU must try to exploit.

As far as our Mountaineers...the starting quarterback will be a game time decision between Clint Trickett and Paul Millard (Childress is out indefinitely after aggravating his torn pectoral muscle in practice this week). WVU also will be with the services of LB Nick Kwiatkoski and WR Ivan McCartney after they have missed time with injuries.

As I stated in our blogger conversation this week, for WVU to win, I believe this game comes down to these three factors:

  1. Controlling the line of scrimmage (on both sides of the ball)
  2. Winning the turnover battle
  3. Reversing the 3rd down conversion trend

None of these will be an easy task, mind you. But, if WVU can do those three things, good things should happen.

FOX Sports 1 has your television coverage beginning at noon (ET) with their Saturday morning pre-game show, FOX College Saturday, broadcasting live from the Coliseum beginning at 10:30 am.

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