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WVU/Norfolk St. Game Preview

The Mountaineers return to action Saturday, following a short week of preparation, to face the Spartans of Norfolk St.  While the Mountaineers are facing a seemingly over-matched FCS school, there are still definite goals for the Mountaineers:

  • Stay healthy
  • Fine tune the offense that was beginning to click when the game was halted last Sunday
  • Improve the overall blocking and the corresponding running game
  • Get the defensive backfield tested against a team that has a propensity to throw

The Spartans utilize the same 3-3-5 defensive scheme employed by Jeff Casteel's unit, so the offense should be plenty familiar with the looks they are likely to see, even with the short practice week.  But, Coach Holgorsen is used to teams changing things up on him:

"(Norfolk St.) may come out and do something completely different, which most teams do," Holgorsen said. "But it shouldn't be a problem figuring out what they're going to do based on the familiarity we have with our own defense." - Daily Athenaeum

The Mountaineers will likely be without the services of running back Andrew Buie, who suffered a bruised shoulder during last week's game.  Trey Johnson is on pace to return, but that is still not definite.

Offensively, the Spartans are also very similar to the Mountaineers.  They use a spread attack as well, again aiding the WVU coaching staff with a bit of familiarity.  They do, however, use a bit more motion and empty sets.  Norfolk St. is led by Chris Walley, who passed for 255 yards in their season opener against Virginia St. last weekend on 25 of 29 passing.  Linebacker Doug Rigg had this to say regarding their offense:

"You see it in practice all the time, so you're really just playing against your own offense," WVU linebacker Doug Rigg said. "Look at the same keys, and we'll be able to play against this team." - Pittsburgh Tribune Review

This is the last real chance for the offense to iron some of the kinks worked out, as a road trip to Maryland looms next week and then the big test against LSU the following week at home.  If the Mountaineers can stay healthy and improve in what looks to be a wet environment tomorrow, we all should come away happy.