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Defensive Preview: West Virginia

The West Virginia defense has several weaknesses that should be exploited by a Texas offense that is progressing every week

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Ben Queen, USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Texas took advantage of a Will Grier injury to dominate on the defensive side of the ball while the Longhorn offense put together just enough to pull out a victory in Morgantown. Texas kept things simple for true freshman QB Sam Ehlinger for most of the game, especially after his 4th quarter pick six almost cost the Longhorns the game. The 2018 Texas offense has taken a huge step forward, and the Mountaineers defense has problems they can exploit. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the West Virginia defense:

Defensive Line

The 3-3-5 West Virginia defense features a defensive line that has struggled to generate consistent pressure in the backfield. The 3 starters have combined for just 3 sacks. Senior Kenny Bigelow Jr. anchors the middle of the line at nose tackle and is the biggest lineman at 307 pounds. DE Jabril Robinson is a graduate transfer from Clemson, where he served as a backup on one of the best defensive lines in the country. He has stepped into a much bigger role with the Mountaineers, but Texas has the talent at tackle to hold him in check.

Linebackers

David Long is the best player in the West Virginia linebacker corps and the stats back it up. Long has 13 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and leads the team in tackles with 65. He was named to every major award watch list prior to the season and has performed like an All-Big 12 player. Middle linebacker Dylan Tonkery is an outside linebacker who was forced to move to the middle last year because of need. If there was ever a game for the Longhorns to assert their dominance with the ground game, this is it. The front 7 for the Mountaineers allowed over 6 yards a carry to David Montgomery several weeks ago in Ames. Keaontay Ingram matches up very, very well against this group.

Defensive Back

A pair of junior college transfers hold down the two cornerback spots. Josh Norwood and Keith Washington aren’t too special, but they have likely seen what Oklahoma State did to disrupt Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey last week.

Kenny Robinson is only a sophomore and is one of the most underrated safeties in the Big 12. His two interceptions are tied for the team lead and he also serves a physical presence in defending the run game.

The West Virginia secondary can be beaten for the big play, but if the Texas offensive coaching staff is smart, they will set up big plays down the field by pounding Ingram and Watson between the tackles.

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Jameson McCausland is originally from Frisco, Texas, where he grew up a Longhorn fan. His two favorite sports are football and baseball, both of which he covers for HornSports. He enjoys spending time with family and friends in his spare time. Jameson is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

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