I’m down bad, gang. If we lose to these dudes I’m recycling 5+ on next weeks pod and possibly hanging up my boots entirely. Side note: with “give up 150 and 3 tuddies in the 4th quarter” and “commit targeting on your own player” now taken, I’m just a “pick 6 for the loss” away from suicide bingo. Wish me luck.
Date: October 28th, 2023
Kickoff: 12:00PM EST
Where: The Bounce House (???), DisneyLand, Florida
Streaming: Fox Sports app
Radio: Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG (Radio Affiliates) | 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: West Virginia +7
ML: WVU +220
Bet the over. If you’re feeling froggy, feel free to tail me and parlay it with WVU ML.
Sunny - high 85/68 low - Wind 13 mph
Should be a nice day for football. A little hot if anything. Florida and Texas have no chill, man.
Where are they from: Orlando, FL. Also somehow one of our more proximate conference foes.
All-time Series: 2-0. We swept a home-and-home with the Knights back in 03-04.
The Last Time We Played: West Virginia 45-20 UCF. We boat raced the Knights in Orlando behind 5 touchdowns from Rasheed Marshall (4 passing, 1 rushing). ‘Member when football was fun? Yea, me neither.
Head coach: Gus Malzahn (12th season, 98-51). I wish we ran Gus’ offense.
2023 record: 3-4 (0-4). The Knights were the nation’s most explosive team during out of conference play but have found it tough to gain a foothold in the conference. No time to get right like hosting the OGnB for homecoming, eh?
WOMEN LIE, MEN LIE, NUMBERS DON’T
21.4 - Combined yards per reception for Kobe Hudson (21.7 per) and Javon Baker (21.2) on 50 catches!! These dudes rank 8th and 10th respectively in FBS in yards per reception. Explosive AF.
6.5 - Combined yards per carry for running backs RJ Harvey (110 att, 624 yds, 6 TD) and Johnny Richardson (57/431/1) and quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (25/184/2). Explosive AF.
52.9 - Percentage of JRP’s dropbacks that feature play action, the 3rd highest number in FBS. Malzahn is a wizard when it comes to spreading you out and running it down your throat... and then hitting you down the field in the passing game.
14 - Tackles for loss by edge Tremon Morris-Brash, by far the most in the Big 12 and 3rd most in FBS. TMB also leads the league in sacks (7.0).
4 - Passes completed in 17 targets against cornerback Brandon Adams this year. That 23.7% is the best number in P5 among corners who’ve been targeted more than 10 times.
1 - Missed tackle by middle linebacker Jason Johnson in 457 snaps. It defies logic that their defense has struggled the way it has when you consider that they have legit dudes at all three levels.
One for the good guys...
9.0 - Garrett Greene’s 9.0% big time throw rate ranks 5th in FBS among quarterbacks with more than 100 dropbacks. Dude is becoming who he was born to be.
WHEN WE HAVE THE BALL - RIDE THE HOT HAND
Mountaineers to Watch: QB6 Garrett Greene, RB4 CJ Donaldson, RB22 Jaheim White, WR5 Devin Carter, TE87 Kole Taylor
Kniggits to Watch: DE3 Tremon Morris-Brash, DT2 Lee Hunter, DT5 Ricky Barber, LB1 Jason Johnson, CB31 Brandon Adams
The Knights have fielded the worst defense in the conference through 4 games. Full stop. However, the run defense has been especially bad, and with our offensive line back to full strength, you figure if there was ever a week when our ground game explodes, this would be it. Two points of emphasis I’d like to see there:
First, continue to involve Garrett Greene with designed touches. Dude is our best player, and Dillon Gabriel, Jason Bean, and Will Howard were all able to do some things in the running game against UCF.
And two, ride whoever is running the hungriest. Justin Johnson was a breath of fresh air last week because he appeared to want to, you know, actually gain yards when we gave him the ball. If he comes out with that same fire under his ass, ride him. If the threat of lost playing time reignites CJ, ride him. If Jaheim gives us a spark, ride him. Perhaps a bit of competition for touches will do everybody good.
As for if and when we throw it, it has to be said that UCF has been statistically solid against the pass this year, but when you’re giving up 250+ per game on the ground you have to wonder how much incentive there really is for your opponents to air it out. I certainly don’t expect Garrett to throw it 40 times, but I do expect him to have success when he does, particularly between the hashes against an extremely mid group of linebackers and safeties.
WHEN THEY HAVE THE BALL - I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO START
Knights to Watch: QB10 John Rhys Plumlee, RB7 RJ Harvey, RB0 Johnny Richardson, WR1 Javon Baker, WR2 Kobe Hudson, WR3 Xavier Townsend
Mountaineers to Watch: DE91 Sean Martin, DE3 Tomi Durojaiye, LB1 Lee Kpogba, CB11 Beanie Bishop
It’s not great here, gang. I’m just going to come out and say it - this is a brutal matchup for our defense in its current state. The Knights had the best offense in the country during out of conference play, and even though they’ve come back to earth a bit in conference, they’re still maybe the most balanced and explosive group we’ve played to date.
And aforementioned playmakers aside, it’s the scheme that causes as many problems as anything. There’s tons of space, dudes running every which way pre-snap, and multiple options built into every play package. It’s fun to watch, hard to defend, and JRP (even though Garrett Greene has surpassed him as prophecy foretold) is the perfect guy to execute it - explosive in his own right, calm under pressure, and willing to take shots when opportunities present themselves. This a group that is capable of breaking us down in multiple ways if we continue to play like we have these past two games.
X-FACTOR - WIN EARLY DOWNS
This has low-key been the biggest difference between Pitt/Texas Tech/TCU and Houston/Ok State. We had a top 15 third down defense in FBS in September, allowing conversions on just 27.8% of our opponents’ opportunities in large part because we were consistently knocking the bad guys off schedule on first and second. In October our third down defense ranks 111th (47.8%), mostly because the opposite has happened. UCF averages 5.7 yards per carry and 9.5 yards per pass attempt on early downs and converts 40.4% of their third downs, so, ya know, not exactly a get right game there. If we win tomorrow, it’s because the September Mountaineers showed up a couple of times in critical situations.
7 out of 10. I hate the matchup for our defense, but I love the matchup for our offense. Good on bad on both sides of the ball.
Hard to see anything other than a high-noon shootout in this one, right? Am I crazy to think we’re decently equipped to win one of those? Should be an entertaining weekend either way.