Can the Mountaineers Stop Sam Ehlinger?
As a freshman, Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buchele were embattled in a quarterback battle. Towards the end of the season Ehlinger seemed to have won the job. Last year, Ehlinger was named the starter and had a very good sophomore season. This year, with two years experience and a full year as being “the guy”, Ehlinger has taken his skills to the next level. He has 15 touchdowns to 1 interception this year. He is 6th in the nation in passing touchdowns and 25th in the nation in passing yards. If the Mountaineers plan to come away with a win, they will need to find a way to slow down Ehlinger.
Can Austin Kendall Stretch The Field?
While Ehlinger is enjoying the fruits of two years of starting, Austin Kendall is struggling with having sat behind Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray for three years and this being his first year since high school to see the field consistently. Kendall has been solid for the Mountaineers, but he hasn’t been able to stretch the field or hit the big plays fans and players are used to since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12. Kendall has been lucky that when he has thrown deep, he hasn’t been intercepted, despite the fact that at least four of his throws could have been picked. The Longhorns are 13th in the nation in scoring and its going to require the Mountaineers to score in order to keep pace.
Can The Defense Slow Down the Longhorns?
As we just pointed out, the Longhorns have a top tier quarterback in Sam Ehlinger and they are scoring points at will. The Mountaineers have only scored over 30 points once this season in a game where they just eventually wore down the N.C. State Wolfpack. They failed to break 30 against Kansas and JMU. If the Mountaineers plan to win, it is going to be with their defense. Dante and Darius Stills have been wrecking balls (shoutout to cowboypopup for the alliteration, now its all I can see...) on the defensive line and combined they have 7 sacks. The Fairmont brothers will need to add to that total if the Mountaineers want to stay in this game. Keith Washington, who has both of the Mountaineers interceptions, will need to steal another from Ehlinger to help give the Mountaineers additional possessions.
This Game Will Determine October
The Mountaineers begin a four-game stretch against the four-best teams in the Big 12: Texas Longhorns, Iowa St. Cyclones, Oklahoma Sooners and Baylor Bears. The Mountaineers are fighting for bowl eligibility this season and right now Kansas State and Texas Tech are winnable games. That would put the Mountaineers at 5 wins but they need to get a sixth. It may take winning one of these four games to secure bowl eligibility. If the Mountaineers can win against Texas, at home, bowl eligibility almost becomes inevitable at this point, but if they lose, then the fight for a sixth win becomes an uphill battle.
Even if the Mountaineers lose, if they lose in the last second and fight against the Longhorns, you can feel good about what they are bringing to the table, but if they get blown out or just look like they don’t belong, then you have to wonder just how well this season is going to go.
Texas & WVU Highlights
2012 - Tavon Austin and 4th Down (and Karl Joseph Kills A Man)
2015 - November Redemption
2016 - Kyzir White Kills a Man
2018 - Will Grier Lobs It in the AIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR