Howdy. It was a heady week in Mountaineer country as we all digested the first regular season victory over a top 5 team in over a decade. But it's time to settle down and look ahead to the next challenge: a road trip to Stillwater to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys. I've been fooling around with format for this preview so I'm going to keep tinkering.
First I'll throw out a couple quick things I've found about the Cowboys, then we'll get to the part that you really came here for, the Q & A with Jed Drenning - which to be honest is just me being selfish. I mean I love you guys but I just enjoy he heck out of talking football with Jed. If you missed the preview last week you should take a look, because he completely nailed it. Undisciplined team that takes penalties? Check. Crappy on third down? Check. I enjoyed that upset so much more because of the insight I went into it with, so I thought I'd give Jed a ring again and pick his brain about the Pokes.
Grown Ass Man Alert
A look back at the numbers put up by Okie State's conference opponents #1 receiver for the past 4 games is enough to make Kevin White drool. TCU's Josh Doctson, Kansas' Nick Harwell, Iowa State's E.J. Bibbs and Texas Tech's Bradley Marquez have combined for 5 touchdowns, averaging 7 catches and 122 yards a game. Across the line of scrimmage, White enters the game averaging nearly 10 catches and over 145 yards per outing. This would seem to favor the Mountaineers. Ready the troops, Cowboys. We are at GrownAssManCon 2.
A Passing Fancy
While we're talking about the Oklahoma State pass defense, let's look at some more numbers. Currently the Pokes stand at 119th nationally in pass defense, giving up 288.4 yards per game. The opposition is completing 57.9% of its passes for 2019 yards. Furthermore those yards have come in big chunks. The Cowboys have given up 78 plays for 10 or more yards - 114th nationally. They've given up 27 plays of 20 or more yards (103rd nationally), 14 plays of 30 or more yards (109th), 8 plays of 40 or more yards (106th), 7 plays of 50 or more yards (125th) and 3 plays of 60 or more yards (102). For a Mountaineer team that's made it's money off big plays, those are comforting numbers.
OK, that's enough out of me, let's see what the man himself has to say.
@abpriddy: So let's get right to it. West Virginia will seemingly be facing a team in a tailspin when they head to Stillwater. What do you see when you look at the Oklahoma State Cowboys?
@TheSignalCaller: It's going to be interesting to see how they respond to what they're dealing with. Right now OSU is a program that viewed themselves as a cut above the TCUs of the world and they just got handed their worst loss since 2008. After the last few years they simply aren't accustomed to that. But they're in a transition year and making the best of a bad situation at QB and. You just can't lose as many guys as they've lost to injury and not miss a beat. But don't forget, a week ago this was a 5-1 team ranked 15th in the country. Now they have one bad game and everybody - media and their fans - have jumped off the wagon.
@abpriddy: So this is a defense giving up some big plays - what are the reasons you're seeing for that?
@TheSignalCaller: The big plays against TCU (77 and 84 yard TD passes to Josh Doctson) were the result of overactive safeties in quarters coverage. On the first play Doctson was just better than the corner and the safety is out of position. The second big one they're in the right coverage this time but the safety simply doesn't make the play. He mistimes his jump - that's inexperience.
@abpriddy: On the offensive side what do you see?
@TheSignalCaller: Well they're pretty clearly missing Joe Wickline. He was the heart and soul of that offense and had a tougness that's hard to replace. But they've still got Tyreek Hill and he's a special, special talent. He's dynamic and explosive but they just don't know how to use him. They aren't getting him the ball enough.
@abpriddy: So what do you see from them at the QB position?
@TheSignalCaller: Daxx Garman is talented, but on the stat sheet and on tape he's clearly regressing. But in all fairness part of that could be the competition - not the least of which was a ticked off TCU. I mean, would you want to face those guys the week after they gave up 61 and blew a 21 point lead?
@abpriddy: Good point. So what do you think about the job coach Mike Gundy is doing with this squad?
@TheSignalCaller: He's doing a good job with these guys. This is a young team, an inexperienced team and a team that's had some injuries. What I see this year is him going with the "arm around the shoulder" approach. He's trying to stay positive and not get after them too much. You saw that this week. I mean, this thing could go a certain kind of way for them but he's doing the right things.
@abpriddy: So do you think Tony Gibson will be dialing up pressure like we saw him do last week?
@TheSignalCaller: I don't entirely know. You have a QB who's struggling and a coach who wants to run the ball to protect him, so you don't want to lose numbers in the box. It's really going to depend on what they do. But I'll be watching for it on the field. That was a big thing last week - if you know the position and you know QBs you could see how uncomfortable Bryce Petty was. His feet told the story, you could just see how much heat he was under.
@abpriddy: So bottom line - what do you see with this game?
@TheSignalCaller: Well it's a tough environment and it would sure serve WVU well if they could jump out to a lead and take the crowd out of play. This isn't an Oklahoma State team that's built to come back from a deficit like some of those other teams we've seen.
You know what this is, though? This is the game that makes the Big 12 the Big 12. You're playing an unranked team but it's a notoriously difficult place to win. But this is also the perfect time for WVU to really prove itself in a larger sense. For years the indictment of WVU was "fine, you can win one bowl game, but let's see you survive the week-to-week grind of a major conference. These are the games they never said we'd survive. Here we are. This is the embodiment of every criticism of WVU's ability to compete. Well now we find out.
@abpriddy: Well I think that's just about got me fired up and ready to go. Thanks as always for the time and we'll be listening!
@TheSignalCaller: See you at the fifty!
Be sure to check out Jed, Jeff Culhane, Dale Wolfley and more on the IMG pre and post game shows. Coverge starts 11:00 on Saturday