West Virginia and TCU could be preparing for a defensive battle this week. WVU head coach Neal Brown believes that TCU head coach Gary Patterson is “the best defensive coach in the country.” Patterson also has a lot of respect for the Mountaineer defense, stating that “They have one of if not the best defensive line in the league.” The Mountaineers are statistically the best defense in the Big 12 this season, allowing only 271 yards per game.
Should West Virginia have gone for it on fourth down? Did the Mountaineers get the short end of the officiating stick? Will Isaiah Esdale emerge into a late season contributor? The answers to these questions and more are addressed on this episode of “Three Guys Before The Game.”
Redshirt junior Isaiah Esdale was one of West Virginia’s most productive receivers in Saturday’s loss at Texas. The junior college transfer tied for the team lead with six receptions, including a highlight reel snag in the second quarter. Esdale is now earning the respect and attention of his coaches, teammates, and WVU fans.
Despite only finding the end zone on their opening possession of the game, West Virginia had an opportunity to leave Austin with a win that could have kept the Mountaineers very much in contention for a spot in the Big 12 Championship game. WVU however could not come up with a big play when needed in the fourth quarter, falling to Texas 17-13 on Saturday.
Much like in their last trip to Austin, the Mountaineers had an opportunity for late-game heroics. In this game however, a pair of fourth quarter trips to the red zone produced no points for West Virginia. In both of those failed possessions, Neal Brown opted to go for it facing fourth-and-one. The results were similar, with a pair of incomplete passes.
For the 2020 college football season, the identity of the West Virginia offense has been the rushing attack. In recent games, quarterback Jarret Doege and the Mountaineer passing offense have developed into a consistent force. However, in three losses, the WVU run game has been well short of its dominance that has defined the Mountaineers. Through seven games, West Virginia averages 154 yards per game as a team on the ground.
Before last season began, Bob Huggins expected to have a team that could score from the perimeter, considering the Mountaineers brought in a pair of transfers to do just that. Still, West Virginia ranked last in the Big 12 in three-point shooting for the 2019-20 campaign, making just 28.6 percent of their attempts and averaging five three-pointers per game. As a new season nears, an optimistic Huggins thinks things will be different.
A physically stronger, more mature Jalen Bridges gives West Virginia a pair of competent small forwards with Emmitt Matthews Jr. returning for his junior season. WVU head coach Bob Huggins was so impressed with Bridges’ development last year in practice playing every day against his guys that he might rethink sending some of his future developmental players to prep school.
The West Virginia men’s basketball team checked in at #15 in the 2020-21 Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll. The Big 12 Conference has five of its 10 teams in the top 19, including #2 Baylor, #6 Kansas, #14 Texas Tech, WVU, and #19 Texas.
The West Virginia volleyball team defeated Iowa State by a final score of 3-0 on Saturday night to complete the weekend sweep. Next week, the Mountaineers will host #1 Texas at the WVU Coliseum starting on Thursday at 6 p.m. and coverage will be on ESPN+.
After helping the Mountaineers improve their overall record to 7-5 on the year, senior middle blocker Briana Lynch of the West Virginia volleyball team has been named the WVU Student-Athlete of the Week.
Around the Big 12
The dates and matchups are set for the second year of the men’s basketball Big 12-Big East Battle. The 2020 matchups were jointly determined by the two conferences. The home school will determine the venue of its game. Check out the matchups here!
Looking at the Big 12 Conference this week, a couple of curious trends are developing. There are only three teams with losing league records right now among the ten Big 12 schools. The top half of the conference also features five teams that have all suffered league losses and have survived other close games.
A pair of Cyclones picked up accolades as Iowa State’s Breece Hall was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, while Mike Rose collected the Defensive Player of the Week award. Oklahoma State’s Tom Hutton and TCU’s Derius Davis shared the Special Teams Player of the Week honor. Texas running back Bijan Robinson was named the conference Newcomer of the Week.
Around the NCAA
Notre Dame’s big win against Clemson established the Irish as the best team at the moment in the ACC, even though they are in the conference for only one season. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 got its season started with wins from its only ranked teams, Oregon and USC. Big 12 leaders Oklahoma State and Iowa State pulled out big wins and Ohio State continues to dominate in the Big Ten.
The first College Football Playoff rankings come out in 15 days. Barring a major upset, these four teams will lead the rundown. Here is a breakdown of the top four, with help from coaches who have scouted or faced each squad.
Many big-name college football programs are struggling to be dominant this season. Here is a breakdown of why big-time teams, such as Penn State, Michigan, and Georgia, are facing issues this year.
Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justine Herbert are the top rookie quarterbacks that could make this class look legendary as their careers progress in the future.
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