Can WVU Stop Mason Rudolph and Oklahoma State?
One of the nation’s top quarterbacks comes to Morgantown on Saturday and will be a tough challenge for WVU’s defense.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia faces one of its toughest opponents this season when Mason Rudolph and No. 11 Oklahoma State come to town on Saturday afternoon.
Their is no doubt that the 22nd- ranked Mountaineers will have their hands full with one of the country’s top quarterbacks.
“They have a good, seasoned quarterback; Rudolph throws the deep ball as good as anybody,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He runs the offense, he’s a big, strong, good-looking, smart guy. He’s been there forever; I’m glad he’s graduating.”
Currently, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior leads the FBS in passing yards with 2,650, while his passing efficiency of 181.1 in third in the FBS. No other quarterback is among the top three in both categories.
He has thrown 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
WVU’s quarterback Will Grier is having an impressive season and is very similar to Rudolph.
“He’s bigger, just as strong of an arm, reads defenses well,” cornerbacks coach Doug Belk said. “Probably not as good of a runner or doesn’t run as much. He had a run here for 40-plus yards a couple years ago. He’s a capable runner, but he’s going to stand in there and he gets the ball in and out of his hands. He can make all the throws from in the pocket and is a difficult challenge.”
With that being said, the question remains if the Mountaineers’ defense can stop the talented playmaker. Both teams have a lot riding on this game, a possible shot at the league title.
WVU’s defense is holding opponents to an average of 29.0 points per game, while the Cowboys are averaging 43.7 points.
At times, Tony Gibson’s dawgs look robust and at other times they appear lackadaisical. Opponents have totaled 1,391 rushing yards and 1,829 yards in the air against the Mountaineers.
Oklahoma State has rushed for 1,343 and passed for 2749 yards through seven games.
“Well, they are so explosive on offense,” Gibson said. “They have the ability to go down the field at any point. He (Rudolph) has three or four weapons to throw it to. He is a really good player. From where he was two years when we faced him out here to where he is now, they have done a great job with him. He is as good as anyone in the country.”
Stopping the Cowboys run game could be crucial for WVU.
“If we can stop the run and control the pass, then that gives us the best chance to win,” safeties coach Matt Caponi said. “We have to try to get them off the field. If they’re running the ball, they’re controlling the clock and eating up some time. They’re going to make plays. It’s them, it’s their offense, the No. 1 offense in the nation, and they’re going to make plays.
“We have to buckle down in the red zone and hold them. What we’ve been doing all year is trying to force teams to kick field goals and try to win with points-per-possession inside the 40-yard line, our offense score touchdowns and our defense hold teams to field goals. Obviously, you want to go in and stop the run and control the pass, and that allows us to do some more things in coverage.”
The Mountaineers are focused on making necessary adjustments to contain Rudolph after the snap.
“Our job on the back end is to try to confuse the quarterbacks and to try and give them different looks and be in different things, and we’ll try to continue to build on that and just do what we do and see if we can hold up,” Caponi said.
But the most important thing is to get Rudolph out of his rhythm.
” As much as we can affect him will be a great thing to do because an affected quarterback is a good quarterback for the defense,” defensive lineman Ezekiel Rose said. “We will try to affect him any way we can like sacking him. When he throws the ball, at least get in his face and show your presence. Try to affect him in any way, and we are going to try to take down on the time he gets to throw the ball in the pocket.”
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