We’ve had too much fluky BS happen to us over the last four years to apologize for any of the things that happened last Thursday. Here’s what you should focus on - the lads had their backs up against the wall and responded (again), and they had approximately three opportunities to quit on Neal Brown (and the season) and they didn’t. This team still believes in their coaches, and I still believe in this team. The nature of the Big 12 this season means that just about every weekend is going to be a coin flip. Let’s get behind these dudes and win a couple of those flips in a row.
Date: October 22nd, 2022
Kickoff: 3:00PM EST
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium - Lubbock, TX
Tickets: General Public
Channel: Fox Sports Networks (yikes)
Online Streaming: FoxSports app with a valid cable subscription
Radio: Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG (Radio Affiliates) | SiriusXM Channel 200 | WVU Gameday App (Apple | Android)
Radio Announcers: Tony Caridi (PBP), Dwight Wallace (analyst), and Jed Drenning (sideline)
Reminder: It is against site policy to post links to illegal streams in the comments.
Spread: WVU +6.5 on FanDuel (-114)
ML: WVU +188, Baylor -230
Over/Under: 64.5 over -114/under -108
I have no issues with this line opening at WVU +4.5, but what the hell does everybody know that I don’t that it moved to +7.5? I don’t care that it’s come back down to +6.5, I just want to know who’s running the propaganda campaign against our football team?
As an aside, over 64.5 seems a safe bet.
Clear - 83 degrees at kickoff - Wind 18 mph
F*!king Lubbock. Absolutely classic West Texas bullshit with this forecast, gang. Run the ball, Graham.
Where are they from? Lubbock, TX. See above.
All-time Series: 6-5. Tech has won three on the trot after we took five straight from 2014-2018.
The Last Time We Played: Texas Tech 23-20 West Virginia. Last year’s contest marked the low point of the season for me. Our flattest performance of the season, at home, against a backup quarterback, coming off a hard-fought loss in Norman. I’m not proud of the way I behaved following this game.
Head coach: Joey Maguire (1st season, 3-3). Everybody seems to love this dude. I get it, but I’d be extremely cool with us ruining their season this weekend.
2022 record: 3-3. This feels about right for Tech. They pulled the Texas win out of the deep recesses of their anus, while they probably played well enough to win against Oklahoma State.
KEYS TO THE GAME
WHEN TECH HAS THE BALL - ANNIHILATE THE LOS, TURN THEM BOYS LOOSE
87 - Plays run per game but the Texas Tech offense. Considering their time of possession, that translates to roughly one play every 21 seconds. Both of those numbers are tops nationally. They want to go fast.
57.5% - Percentage of plays on which Texas Tech passes the ball. Not as high as you’d expect, right? They lead the nation in passes per game, but a lot of that is a product of how many plays they run.
107 - Pressures allowed by the Texas Tech offensive line this year. Only Indiana has allowed more. Some of this is again a product of how many plays they run/passes they throw, but consider that the second highest number in the Big 12 in Iowa State's 67. That’s a big gap.
The observation that it bodes poorly for us that Tech throws the ball more than anybody and for more yards than anybody but Washington has been well-documented this week. And maybe our secondary is bad enough that it really is that simple this weekend, especially if we just sit back and let them do their thing.
However, if I were selling you reasons for optimism, which obviously I am, I would also note that Tech fields the worst offensive line in the conference and doesn’t push the ball down the field with anything approaching the effectiveness of the teams that’ve hurt us throwing this year. They rank just 61st nationally in 20+ yard completions despite their prolific passing volume, and their 7% explosive pass percentage isn’t even half of Texas’ 14.4%. Both of their quarterbacks who’ve played significant snaps this year have an ADOT under 10 and average around 7 yards per attempt. This is very much a rhythm and timing-based passing attack, with the ball generally coming out quickly to a receiver less than 10 yards down the field. In my opinion, the best way to disrupt an attack like that is to disrupt the timing.
Which brings us back to the offensive line. Consider the aforementioned 107 pressures allowed, and the comforting fact that it’s not just one guy. LT Caleb Rogers has been the worst of the bunch, with 33 pressures and 13 sacks allowed (!!!), but his opposite number Monroe Mills has allowed 18 of his own while the interior GCG trio of Wright, Wilburn, and Peterson has combined to allow 42. If there was ever a week where we should expect to not only control the LOS, but absolutely live in the backfield, this is it. Tony Gibson turned the dawgs loose on Tech in Raleigh earlier this year and had great success knocking their passing game out of its rhythm, and I think that’s the recipe we should attempt to replicate this weekend.
WHEN WE HAVE THE BALL - DO WHAT WE DO AND POSSESS THAT BALL
4.7 - Yards per carry allowed by the Texas Tech defense against FBS opponents this year, good for 104th nationally.
31 - Pressures generated by Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson. This dude is a legit first round talent and we need to be aware of where he is every time we’re planning to throw the ball.
6 - Turnovers forced by Texas Tech, tied with us for 110th nationally.
We’ve established a bit of an identity offensively where we’re not overly explosive, but we stay on schedule really well and are extremely balanced. I dig it. Those things were on full display against a very solid Baylor defense last week, and they should be just as effective against a marginally less solid Texas Tech defense this weekend.
The Red Raiders’ defensive strength is a familiar cast of characters in the front 6 that includes defensive linemen Wilson, Jaylon Hutchings, Tony Bradford, and Philip Blidi, and linebacker Krishon Merriweather. That group has accounted for 78 pressures and 15 sacks this season, but they’ve struggled a bit against the better rushing attacks the Red Raiders have faced, allowing a combined 494 yards on 69 attempts (7.2ypc) against Texas and Kansas State. I like our chances to run the ball on them, and if our hogmalies up front are able to dominate the line of scrimmage the way they did last Thursday it will open things up downfield for Bryce and KP against a pair of corners that have graded out fairly poorly this year. I think the gameplan should be exactly what it’s been - get those backs rolling, stay on schedule, and chunk them in the intermediate passing game.
STANDING X-FACTOR - MARGINS
may be is going to be the standing X-factor for these previews going forward. Basically, we have less margin for error than any team in the Big 12 besides Iowa State (and maybe Texas Tech?). Winning the field position and turnover battles, avoiding ill-timed drops and penalties, getting off the field on third down, turning quality possessions into touchdowns - all of those things were important before and are absolutely critical now. Our backs are against the wall here, gang. There is no more room for error.
HOW CONCERNED SHOULD WE BE?
6 out of 10. Expect at least a 6 out of 10 the rest of the way against what is most likely a string of six coin flips. In the Red Raiders’ case, the concerns (their passing game against our secondary) are very valid, but I also think that we have the better team.
We ain’t losing four in a row to these chumps. I get the passing thing against our secondary, and that is very likely going to be a problem, but I also think that our offense is as bad a matchup for them as theirs is for us. It’s good on bad on both sides of the ball. The kicker for me is that we should be better than them in the trenches. On paper I think we should be able to run the ball and control the clock on offense, and we should be able to apply pressure to Behren Morton on defense. If we check both of those boxes we’re flying back to Morgantown with a W. LFG.