Breaking Down the WVU-Kansas Matchup By Position
WVU comes in to Lawrence as a big favorite once again.
By Franklin Markel
The Mountaineers won in style last weekend against the Delaware State Hornets and head into Lawrence, Kansas to take on the Jayhawks this Saturday. The Jayhawks are 1-2 and coming off a 42-30 loss to the Ohio Bobcats. Kansas football is not the powerhouse their basketball team is, they haven’t had a winning season since 2008. The Mountaineers should leave Lawrence with a win Saturday, here’s where the Mountaineers and Jayhawks have their advantages:
West Virginia Advantages
Will Grier is good, really good. After coming off a season and a half of not playing, he’s come back to lead the Big 12 in touchdowns over the first three games. He has passed for over 900 yards, 11 touchdowns and is putting up Heisman-like numbers. His counterpart this game is Peyton Bender who has had a tremendous campaign for the Jayhawks and is a huge bright spot on this team. He’s passed for 1,030 yards this season and six touchdowns. The former Washington State and junior college QB has found a home in Lawrence. When you pair him with the great WR corps you have an impressive passing game. Bender is good, Grier is better. The Mountaineers have the advantage under center.
Justin Crawford had another 100-yard game and added three touchdowns on just 15 carries. He continues to light the opposing defenses on fire. As if Crawford isn’t good enough, Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway can also rack up carries. This RB group is stacked from top to bottom for WVU. You can’t really say the same for Kansas. Freshman Dom Williams and and junior Kahili Herbert split carries and combine for 257 yards and five touchdowns. The bottom of the depth chart does not really see the field that much. The Mountaineers have more talent and depth, they get the advantage.
The Mountaineers offensive line has been great so far. The running game is clicking and Grier has time in the pocket. This is behind the outstanding play of Kyle Bosh and Colton McKivitz and it’s why the Mountaineers have the advantage in OL game. For Kansas, experience tops talent as the offensive line has racked up an combined 89 starts heading into this game. A big piece is Alabama transfer Charles Baldwin at right tackle. Both groups are experienced but the Mountaineers have more talent.
This is a unit where the Mountaineers have strength and when David Long comes back next week it will see huge improvement. For now, the two headed monster of AL-Rasheed Benton and Xavier Preston have held down the fort well with 33 combined tackles this season. For the Jayhawks, this is a inexperienced group combining for 4 starts heading into this season. Emmanuel More is a starter and was a wide receiver last year. This is a weak spot for the Jayhawks and where the Mountaineers have one of their biggest advantages.
The Mountaineer defensive backs have had a confusing start. There are times when they look great and times when a team like Delaware State can throw 81-yard passes. One of the more constant players for WVU is Kyzir White. Pair him with Devon-Askew Henry and this is a corps to be reckoned with. For KU, Hessan Defense is a JUCO transfer whos last name gives you a good idea at what he does well. KU’s best defensive back is Tyrone Miller Jr., who started eight games last year. This is a weakness for the Jayhawks and look for Grier to expose it on Saturday. Advantage WVU.
Kansas Jayhawks Advantages
For the second time this season I give the opponent the advantage at wide receiver. WVU has a good top of the depth chart with David Sills V, Gary Jennings, Ka’Raun White and Marcus Simms. They have combined for over 800 yards and 11 touchdowns. Great numbers, but they don’t have any depth. For Kansas it’s the opposite. They don’t have all around superstar talent in guys like Steven Simms and LaQuvionte Gonzalez. The place where they have the advantage is the depth as they return seven of the top eight. The Jayhawks have the slight advantage here.
You should get used to seeing the Mountaineers lose the DL battle this year. Reese Donahue and Adam Shuler haven’t gotten the job done and the DL is arguably the weakest group on the team. The Jayhawks are in a completely different spot. They have lots of talent at this position and it is a strength for them. Dorance Armstrong is the leader of the pack, starting 12 games last year, and Deissac Davis started 10 and adds talent. The Jayhawks have the advantage here and it’s not even close.
The WVU special teams are getting better. They finally have a kick returner in Simms who can bust a few open. The problem is the actual kicking, Mike Molina and Billy Kinney need to improve. For KU Liam Jones is a true freshman kicker but he is splitting kicks with Gabriel Rui. Their best advantage is in Punt and Kick Returns. Steven Simms and Quan Hampton are two of the Big Twelves best. The Jayhawks squeak away with the advantage.
The Mountaineers are favored big time on Saturday. I have to disagree somewhat, this KU team has more talent than people think and they have the all important home field advantage. A conference road game is never easy for a team. With that said, WVU is the better team and takes it by ten. 31-21 Mountaineers.