The West Virginia Mountaineer football team invades Norman for the first time this weekend since 1982. The last trip out there was a memorable one. How will this one fare?
With last week's uninspiring performance against an FCS opponent behind us, our Mountaineers jump right into league play against one of the perennial favorites in the league. The Sooners are led by a freshman quarterback, Trevor Knight, who ran for more yards than he threw for. This ain't your daddy's Sooners. They're more like the old wishbone editions back under Switzer, but with fancier formations. They have a stable of running backs, all of whom will carry the ball during the game. Damien Williams is the number one guy and the workhorse. Brennan Clay will also carry some of the load and is more of a threat to catch the ball from the backfield, while Roy Finch can fill both roles. Isaiah Bruce and the Mountaineer defense will have their hands full trying to slow down their run game.
Yes, they look different on the defensive side of the ball as well. After being gashed by Tavon Austin and several others late in the season, Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops revamped his defensive attack against ULM last week revealing a six DB alignment. For the uninitiated, ULM is known for it's high flying, high scoring offense...much like WVU last season. Oklahoma shut them out and limited them to 166 yards of total offense.
If our Mountaineers are to have a chance at victory, the offense must be more efficient than it showed against W&M. I think Charles Sims will be able to showcase more of what makes him special against OU. He was a prolific pass receiver when he was with Holgorsen before. We also have Wendell Smallwood and Dreamius Smith to help lighten his load. Might we finally see a true diamond formation with all three in the backfield?
At last report, Kevin White was still listed as "day-to-day" with a lingering foot issue, but he is traveling with the team. His presence and the emergence of Daikiel Shorts would be a wonderful boost to the passing game. Mario Alford also seems more healthy than he has been to date and he provides more of a Tavon-esque option for the offense. It would also be nice to be able to count on Ronald Carswell as a deep threat and stretch this defense out.
Paul Millard gets the nod again at quarterback, but we could still see Clint Trickett get some action as well.
I actually have some confidence in the defense this game, despite the national pundits. I think it hinges on whether or not the offense can get on track. Winning the turnover battle would do wonders to help our cause. The current line is 21, but I think we'll make a game of it. This is a big opportunity for this young team looking for an identity. Now it's a matter of taking advantage of that opportunity.
National coverage begins at 7 pm ET on your local Fox affiliate with Gus Johnson handling the play-by-play.