The West Virginia Mountaineers have given the Texas Longhorns fits since joining the Big 12 eight years ago and have won the last two in Austin. The Mountaineers are coming off a 37-10 win over #16 Kansas State at home, but have yet to win a road game this season. HornSports caught up with Ashley O’Brien from Blue Gold Sports and asked her five questions about the upcoming matchup at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
HornSports: On the surface, it appears West Virginia has had an up and down start to the season. The win against Kansas State was certainly impressive, but they also struggled against a bad Baylor team, lost soundly to Oklahoma State and fell to Texas Tech. What has been the biggest difference in year 2 under Neal Brown and where is the program at as a whole?
Blue Gold Sports: Hands-down, the run game and the defense. The run game was nothing short of a joke last season, so to see the improvement Coach Brown has put together in year two has been a site for sore eyes. Leddie Brown had made quite the name for himself this season. The defense was hit with a coaching shake up this summer, which left people wondering what this defense would be like. Looking at the defense in game time and on paper, it’s one of the top defenses in the country. Despite the coaching changes, this defense is a single, solitary unit that shows up & will find holes in most of the offensive lines they face.
HornSports: When looking at the Mountaineers defense, the first thing you have to mention is the Stills brothers. Texas struggled to contain them in Morgantown last year and both are off to strong starts this year. Is there a way to slow these two down and how do you see the matchup playing out between a strong WVU defensive line and a Texas offensive line that has not been good?
Blue Gold Sports: Saturday’s game will come down to how many points the Longhorns offense can score against Darius, Dante and the rest of the defense. If the Stills brothers and crew show up like they did against Kansas State, Sam Ehlinger and the Texas offense are going to have to get creative in the ways they reach the end zone.
HornSports: Sticking on the topic of defense, a lot of Texas fans are familiar with LB Tony Fields, who chose West Virginia over Texas as a grad transfer. How has Fields looked this season and what type of impact can Texas fans expect him to make?
Blue Gold Sports: So far, Tony Fields has lived up to every expectation that fans had of him coming from Arizona. Fields is dynamic, energized and is constantly looking to make plays. Expect an explosive, fast player with his eyes set on the ball.
HornSports: Texas did not see Jarret Doege last year as they faced the Mountaineers early in the year before the Austin Kendall experiment ended. Doege is off to a good start this year and threw for over 300 yards against the Wildcats. How has he progressed as a passer and what challenges does he present?
Blue Gold Sports: Doege’s year one to year two growth has been great. He used his time during the spring at home to continue to work on his skill sets and accuracy as a passing; sharing to his social media numerous times videos of himself and his mom running routes and working on his improvement. Despite a few shaky moments (Texas Tech game) Doege’s accuracy and stats have been near the top of the conference. If he performs like he did against Kansas State, the offense will not have an issue scoring points.
HornSports: The Mountaineers have won four of five in Austin and hold the series edge over Texas 5-4. What’s your prediction for Saturday?
Blue Gold Sports: The West Virginia-Texas games have been known to be eventful, from offensive showdowns to Grier’s finger injury to the 2018 game in Austin; this matchup is one that’s circled on plenty of calendars in the fall. Both teams are coming off big wins last week, and West Virginia will be coming to Texas to show that they can in fact play well on the road in the Big 12. It seems at times that Texas will play down to their opponents following big wins, and I can see that happening Saturday. While Sam Ehlinger is an excellent quarterback, I think West Virginia’s defense continues to trend upward and be the determining factor this weekend. Both teams score some points, but I think West Virginia shows up with a major desire to prove themselves. West Virginia 35, Texas 31.
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