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West Virginia Offense/Defense Preview

Photo: Bethany Hocker-USA TODAY Sports
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Last year’s game between Texas and West Virginia was a nail-biter in Austin that came down to a two-point conversion. West Virginia left Austin with a win, but the Longhorns hold a winning record in Morgantown. With a new head coach at the helm for the Mountaineers, the West Virginia offense and defense look to show new wrinkles. Or do they? Let’s take a look at the two sides of the ball heading into Saturday’s matchup in Morgantown.

Offense

New West Virginia head coach Neal Brown is an air-raid descendent who is attempting to replicate what Dana Holgorsen did during his tenure in Morgantown. Unfortunately for Brown, Holgorsen did not leave much behind for him to work with after bolting for Houston. The Mountaineers lost most of their production on offense to the NFL, including QB Will Grier. Replacing Grier is Oklahoma transfer, Austin Kendall. Kendall has thrown for 871 yards and 6 touchdowns compared to just 3 interceptions through the first 4 games of 2019. Kendall has struggled with accuracy when throwing downfield and is averaging slightly above 6 yards per pass attempt, proving the lack of effort to get the ball downfield.

West Virginia running back Kennedy McKoy should be a familiar name for Texas fans. McKoy has had several good games against the Longhorns in the past but has yet to find much room to run in 2019, averaging only 3.1 yards per carry. 

Redshirt Freshman Sam James has been about the only receiving threat West Virginia has shown through the first 4 games of the season. James ranks first on the team in catches with 26 for 263 yards, while McKoy is second with 16 catches. After James, one of the biggest threats will be TJ Simmons, who has 13 catches for 125 yards.

Defense

The West Virginia defense is one the Longhorns should be able to move the ball against. The Mountaineers have several talented individuals, but the unit as a whole is simply not extremely talented. DE Dante Stills has collected 4 sacks already this season and will be one of the better pass rushers the Texas offensive line faces this season. 

The West Virginia secondary is littered with transfers, but they have struggled at times this year. Kansas and Missouri both moved the ball in big chunks at times through the air without much resistance. West Virginia is also undersized on the backend, so if Collin Johnson returns from a hamstring injury it will be a great chance for the senior to ease back into action. 

With the current state of the Texas offense, the Longhorns should have ample opportunity to put up points on Saturday afternoon. If the Longhorns surpass the 30 point mark, they will have an excellent chance of leaving Morgantown with a victory assuming the Texas defense is able to build off of a solid performance against Oklahoma State. 

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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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