WVU Has to Take Advantage of Chance to Gain Ground in Big 12
It will not be easy, but WVU has the favorable matchup compared to their Big 12 counterparts.
This is a big weekend for the Big 12, everyone is in a win or go home position. The Mountaineers are in a three-way tie for second place in the Big 12(Oklahoma state owns tiebreaker), which means at this point WVU controls their own destiny with three games left in the season.
TCU will travel to Norman to take on Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners. Both teams are tied for first place in the Big 12, which makes this the game of the week in the conference, but do not overlook the other matchups. Iowa State will be at home against Oklahoma State, and with both those teams tied for second with WVU, this will inevitably break the tie between the three teams. Then there is the Mountaineers game against the Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan this Saturday. Although K-State is not ranked, and has suffered some tough losses throughout the season, this is still a well coached Bill Snyder team.
Jesse Ertz has not had the most stellar season with only seven touchdowns and 930 passing yards. Very underwhelming compared to his counterpart Will Grier who has 3,068 yards, 30 touchdowns, and ten interceptions. Ertz may not have the stellar numbers, but is a very competent quarterback who has a great understanding and experience in the K-State offense. Behind Ertz is the Wildcats leading rusher Alex Barnes. Barnes has 102 carries for 587 yards and five touchdowns this season. The Wildcats are sixth in the Big12 in scoring, but have formulated a way to put points on the board. The combination of Ertz dual threat ability, and Barnes ability to get yards after contact have helped the WIldcats have meaningful drives. Meaning, even if they do not score a touchdown, they will at least put a field goal on the scoreboard, as K-State has the second leading kicker in the Big 12 as far as points in Senior Matthew Crane.
On defense the Wildcats are not spectacular; just like their offense, but still solid. Fourth in scoring defense in the Big 12 led by Senior linebacker Trent Tanking. Kansas State was able to slow down a high powered offense in Texas Tech in their last game, and WVU brings forth a better offense than Texas Tech, but Will Grier and the WVU offense cannot play the way they did in the second half of last weeks game against Iowa State, where they were shutout at home.
Granted it is a new week, and it is hard to expect an offense that has been able to find as much success as the Mountaineers, that they would struggle on offense two weeks in a row. Expect Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital to carry the same game plan as last week into this week. Maybe not the exact game plan, but the same mindset. Last week Spavital made a noticeable effort to feed Senior running back Justin Crawford. Crawford carried the ball almost twenty times in the first half last week. As Crawford was having success on the ground it kept Iowa State’s defense honest, which opened passing lanes for quarterback Will Grier. In the back end of the game you can expect to see more of running back Kennedy McKoy, who has been keeping Mountaineer drives alive at key points in fourth quarter of games this season.
On defense you can expect that Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson will do his best to keep pressure on Ertz who has only thrown three interceptions this season and does not make many mistakes.
That automatically means a damn near flawless performance with no turnovers may be the only way to defeat a well coached Bill Snyder team. I do expect the Mountaineers to put up less points than usual, but nonetheless more than Kansas State. But! And a big but. As I said earlier WVU cannot put forth the same kind of effort on offense on the road like they did last week in the second half.
WVU 39 KSU 33