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THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: West Virginia relies on dominant defense

Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions.

DOMINANT DEFENSE

The West Virginia football team has been relying on its dominant defense for years. Last season the Mountaineers had the top defense in the Big 12, leading the conference in points allowed per game with 20.5, average yards allowed per game with 291.4, average yards allowed per play with 4.7, and touchdowns allowed with 23. The statistics were nationally competitive, as well, putting the WVU defense in the top five in yards allowed per game, top 10 in yards per play, and top 25 in points per game. The Mountaineers also only allowed 159.6 passing yards per game and 12 passing touchdowns, which were conference bests.

Through four games this season, WVU is in the top 25 nationally in points allowed per game with 16.8, average yards allowed per play with 4.6, average rushing yards allowed per game with 89.8, average yards allowed per rush with 2.5, and average rushing touchdowns allowed per game with 0.25. The Mountaineers are also leading the Big 12 in touchdowns allowed with seven.

With an offense that is struggling to score after the first quarter, and especially in the second half, WVU has its defense to thank for the win over Virginia Tech, and for preventing bigger losses to Maryland and Oklahoma. The defense has done everything it possibly can to keep the Mountaineers competitive in its three games against power-five opponents, and in the losses to UMD and OU one more touchdown from the offense in each of those games could have rewarded the defense for its incredible effort.

NEW YEAR, NEW FACES

The West Virginia men’s basketball team is going to have a lot of new faces on the court this season. Head coach Bob Huggins is preparing to have seven newcomers this year, following the departures of All-Big 12 selections Miles “Deuce” McBride and Derek Culver.

Many of the new Mountaineers will bring experience to the team. Dimon Carrigan, Malik Curry, and Pauly Paulicap are all fifth-year transfers. Carrigan is a forward from Florida International, where he averaged 6.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game and had a team-leading 60 blocked shots last season. Curry is a guard from Old Dominion, where he led the Monarhcs in scoring at 15.7 points per game, assists with 71 total, and steals with 37 total last year. Paulicap is a forward from DePaul, where he averaged 7.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game last season.

The other four newcomers are freshmen. They include guard Kobe Johnson from Canton McKinley High School in Ohio, forward Jamel King, forward James Okonkwo from Beckley Prep in West Virginia, and guard Seth Johnson from Lorain High School in Ohio.

The Mountaineers are also bringing back fifth-years Gabe Osabuohien and Taz Sherman, seniors Sean McNeil and Kedrain Johnson, sophomores Jalen Bridges, Taj Thweatt, and Seny N’Diaye, and redshirt freshman Isaiah Cottrell.

WEST VIRGINIA ROUNDUP

  • The #4 West Virginia men’s soccer team remains undefeated this season after a 4-0 win over St. Bonaventure on Saturday afternoon in Morgantown. Fifth-year senior defender Kevin Morris scored in the 33rd minute to give WVU a 1-0 lead at halftime. Shortly after the second half started, freshman defender Frederick Jorgensen found the back of the net to put the Mountaineers up 2-0. Senior forward Yoran Popovic and sophomore midfielder Ryan Crooks gave WVU two additional goals in the final minute of the match. Popovic was also named the Mid-American Conference Player of the Week.
  • The West Virginia volleyball team earned back-to-back home wins over Oklahoma to get back on a winning streak following its first loss of the season to #14 Penn State. This was the first time WVU had ever swept the Sooners in regular season play. The 12-1 Mountaineers return to action on Thursday and Friday this week with back-to-back matches at #1 Texas.

AROUND THE BIG 12

  • Two upsets headlined the Big 12 scores this week. Baylor knocked off then-#14 Iowa State, 31-29, to improve to 4-0 this season. The Cyclones are now 2-2 and unranked, while the Bears moved to #21. Oklahoma State defeated then-#25 Kansas State, 31-20, at home. The Cowboys are now 4-0 and ranked 19th nationally, while the now-unranked Wildcats are 3-1 on the year.
  • Following a blowout win over Texas Tech, Texas quarterback Casey Thompson has been named this week’s Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. He was joined by fellow Longhorn Xavier Worthy, who was the conference Newcomer of the Week. Baylor running back Trestan Ebner was the Special Teams Player of the Week. His teammate Garmon Randolph shared the Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors with Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez.

AROUND THE NCAA

  • It looks like #8 Arkansas might be a legitimate SEC contender this season. The Razorbacks moved up in the rankings after another big victory, this time over then-#7 Texas A&M. The Hogs got out to an early lead and were able to hold on to a 20-10 win. The Aggies are now #15 after the loss.
  • The Fighting Irish put up 31 points in the fourth quarter to run away with a 41-13 blowout win over then-#18 Wisconsin in Chicago. Notre Dame is now in the top 10, at #9, while the Badgers fell out of the national polls.
  • The biggest upset in college football this past week was NC State’s win over then-#9 Clemson in Raleigh. The electric crowded cheered the Wolfpack on to a 27-21 double-overtime win. The Tigers are now 2-2, but are somehow still ranked.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker made an NFL-record 66-yard field goal off the crossbar as time expired to give Baltimore a 19-17 win over the Lions in Detroit. Quarterback Lamar Jackson had 287 passing yards and one touchdown for the Ravens, but was sacked four times and threw an interception.
  • The 49ers thought they won the game after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led a touchdown drive to put them up 28-27 with 37 seconds left. But quarterback Aaron Rodgers got the Packers into field goal range and kicker Mason Crosby hit a game winner as time expired to give Green Bay a 30-28 win at San Francisco.

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