With the West Virginia Mountaineers set to face the Texas Longhorns in WVU’s first Big XII road test, Ken Durbin, editor of HailWV.com, sat down with Chris Flanagan, editor of HookemHeadlines.com, to discuss the key aspects of this week’s match-up.
Ken Durbin: I’ll start with a question for you: Given what you have seen from the Longhorns so far this season, is it more important for WVU to stop the running game of Gray and Bergeron or the passing attack of David Ash?
Chris Flanagan: Shut down David Ash. Our rushing attack is consistent but it hasn’t reeled off any big runs. The passing is there because the teams are playing David Ash like it’s 2011 and he just is a different quarterback. So if West Virginia can stop David Ash, they will have a good chance of winning.
Is Baylor’s offense that good or is West Virginia’s defense that bad?
KD: Baylor’s offense is pretty solid. Terrance Williams is going to be playing on Sundays in the near future. That being said, our defensive backs have come up short this season. Blame it on the new scheme if you like, but I think it’s a lack of sound tactics. You got to challenge receivers at the point of attack and our DBs haven’t done a good job of that recently. If Ash has time to throw, we could be in for another shoot out.
Speaking of secondaries, do the horns have anybody that can handle one of the best receiving duos in the nation, Bailey and Austin?
CF: Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndum are two of the best corners in the country in terms of takeaways but that leaves them vulnerable to missed tackles. Kenny Vaccaro is one of the better safeties in the college game. I think after watching them against Oklahoma State, I think they will try to rush the passer more since Geno is not much of a runner which will get more pressure on Geno and rush some throws.
What are the expectations of West Virginia coming into their first Big 12 road game?
KD: The Mountaineers expectations have never been higher than they are this season. We have Geno Smith torching kids. Of course, we have been playing teams like James Madison (FCS), Marshall(115th in total defense), and Baylor (120th in total defense). When we have played a top defense like Maryland (8th in total defense) we were slowed but still able to put up 31 points. Looking at your Longhorns, they check in at 63th in total defense. So I would expect WVU to at least be able to put up 31 against your defense and maybe more. Given the way both our teams were involved in shoot outs last week, I would expect this to be somewhat of a track meet. I think Las Vegas has set the over/under on punts at 4.5.
Time to get to the meat of the argument: how do you see this game going down?
CF: I think the game goes a lot like the Oklahoma State game. Austin doesn’t get many big time games since the Longhorns play the Sooners in Dallas. So the fans are excited and ready for the Longhorns to prove they are elite. David Ash doesn’t have that deer in the headlights look anymore and will lead the offense to some points. I think the defense will try to bring pressure with blitzes and give them yards between the 20s but when it’s in the redzone, hold WVU to Field goals. At home, I don’t see the Longhorns losing.
Texas wins 45-35
How about you?
KD: I agree with you that the game will be high scoring, but I can’t pick against the Mountaineers and future Heisman trophy winner Geno Smith. The Longhorn defense is not an elite defense and I think Geno will have time to find his targets. I expect the Mountaineers to pull some gadget plays to throw the defense back on their heels. I look for Geno to have a great game, but I think Tavon Austin will shine in his namesake town. The Mountaineers defense struggles again with pass coverage, making this game a close high scoring affair. I like the Mountaineers to pull out a 48-44 victory and for Austin to rename Tavontown (at least for the night).
One last bonus question before I let you of the hook(‘em): for the thousands of Mountaineers coming to town this weekend (including the HailWV.com staff), what is the can’t miss bar/restaurant?
CF: For the mountaineer fans coming in, you have to try Texas BBQ. My personal pick would be the Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX. If you want to put more miles on the rental car, head to Lockhart, TX which is less than an hour south on 183. That is considered the BBQ capital of Texas. You can try to get Franklin’s BBQ but its a long wait and they only serve at lunch.