Matt: In about a paragraph, give me a rough summary of what makes this OSU team tick. What are the main strengths and weaknesses?
Gerald: I hate to sound super cliche, but they're all really scrappy, young guys who have talent. This will be Mason Rudolph's ninth game and each game has been better. Our history isn't deep, but he's one of the few quarterbacks with multiple 400+ yard games, if that tells you anything. Defensively, this may be the best group Gundy has had in his time here. Ogbah and Bean keep quarterbacks from wanting to throw while the defensive tackles were supposed to be a weakness but have been a strength. The pressure the line gets certainly helps the defensive backs, but they're pretty sturdy. They may have a bad quarter here or there, but always pull out great second halves.
The strengths are definitely passing and defense. The weakness is unquestionably the offensive line play from the guards and center. Paul Lewis and Brad Lundblade have Rudolph running around like a chicken with his head cut off half the time, which isn't good. The running backs are good, but when you've got two or three defenders in the backfield when you take the hand off, you're not going anywhere.
Matt: We have some unfortunate similarities in the "devastating injuries to leaders" category this week. How will the Cowboys look to replace senior linebacker Ryan Simmons?
Gerald: Chad Whitener should step in and do well. Now, he's no Ryan Simmons. Simmons has the "I've been here starting forever so listen to me," presence in the locker room and also off the field. In Simmons' season, he had 14 tackles and not much else. Whitener showed last week against KSU that he's a pretty good backup, picking up nine tackles, four for loss and two sacks. He was a three-star recruit who went to Cal in 2013 before transferring here this year as a walk on and got a scholarship this summer. The team can live without Simmons, but it is definitely a huge blow in the moral and leadership point of view. We'll see how it goes this weekend.
Matt: West Virginia's secondary should stil be a position of strength even with the Karl Joseph injury. Team that can run the ball and keep it out of our offenses hands still worry me, though. How do the Cowboys stack up in that regard?
Matt: Not good. They haven't ran the ball well really at all this year. Now, they'll still run it 30 or more times just because they like to bang their heads against the wall to see if the light will turn on. Childs is much improved, he's able to turn a two yard gain into eight if the line gives him any time, and Carson is a very patient runner who follows his blockers extremely well. As I mentioned above, if the line gets a good push, the Cowboys could have a good running game. If not, it's a long day.
Matt: Anyone outside of the household names that WVU fans should be watching for on Saturday?
Gerald: I'd watch for Vincent Taylor. With all the pressure that Ogbah and Bean put on the edges, Taylor can sometimes sneak through and bring down the quarterback, he's done it 2.5 times this year. He's a pretty big force, standing at 6-3, 200 pounds as a redshirt sophomore, but no one really knew what he could do until this year. His six TFL is third on the team and for some reason, people always forget about him.
Matt: How do you feel this one shakes out?
Gerald: You know, I've been taking WVU since the schedule came out, but the more I watch of that OU game, I just don't know. OU pressured Howard and got away with a win. I think if OSU can get the pressure on Howard again, he could turn the ball over a few times, resulting in an OSU win. However, if OSU can't run it, they're going to be forced to throw against one of the better secondaries in the nation. But since it is on the road in a crazy environment after two emotional wins, I'll take OSU by seven. However, I would not be a single bit surprised to see it go the exact opposite way.
Matt: *Bonus* Who would win in a race between Sonic the Hedgehog and The Flash?
Gerald: That's a tough question. I'll refer to this video here and say neither. Oh that's not an option? Well, I'll go with Sonic because the Flash was out drinking last night.
Thanks again to Gerald from CRFF for taking the time to help us preview this weekend's game.