Getting The Red Raider Monkey Off Our Backs

If we are to measure the success of the football program, we have to get over some of the humps that exist in the Brown coaching era. One of the most glaring obstacles in the path is never beating the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Recently, I dove into some of the reasons I feel that this team has had our number in the past couple of years. To get the monkey off our backs and move forward trusting the climb again, we are going to have to put this team to bed. So how do we do that?

One thing that we have not been exceptionally great at doing in the past few years is putting the right personnel in the right packages to achieve the best results. Even going beyond the strange obsession with subpar quarterbacks beyond their worth to the program, there have been multiple opportunities to instill playmakers into the scheme and other roles that could have benefited the West Virginia Mountaineers in previous contests. Now, the question becomes, what do you do this year against a Texas Tech team that has more hype than ever despite their slow start to the season?

Here are the keys to winning the game this Saturday:

  • Own the Clock

One of the things the Texas Tech likes to do is to take the clock management away from their opponents. This is done by overloading offensive plays and moving the chains quickly. West Virginia needs to find ways to slow down the game when we have the ball. This gives ample opportunity for our defensive play makers to get needed rest and recuperation before coming back out on the field and meeting this fast-paced group. Clock management will also be vital in ensuring that we get the appropriate substitutions in where these opportunities exist. Last week, the Oregon Ducks were able to slow down the game enough where the Red Raiders were only able to complete an average amount of plays (65-67) as opposed to 80+.

  • Find the Holes

One of the best things that we will be able to do is to establish the run quickly and early. The Red Raiders rank in the bottom half of the conference in rush defense, so establishing this point of attack will make later passing options available and more successful. The Red Raiders have yet to face a team with the rushing prowess of the WVU Mountaineers, as even the ranked Oregon Ducks were not as successful running the ball against this defensive front. Wyoming, on the other hand, put up over 175 yards on the group. If the Mountaineers want success, it will happen first on the ground.

  • Keep It Clean

So far, we’ve done fairly well in reducing senseless penalties in the games we’ve played this year. We haven’t had much pre-snap problems at all, which can be the worst in getting your offense behind the chains and struggling to make down and distance. Keeping that same focus headed into this weekend’s matchup will prove beneficial. Right now, Tech is averaging more than 50 yards a game they give off penalties against their opponents, meaning there are opportunities if we don’t give the yardage back with our own mistakes.

  • RPO and Play Action

There are no two ways around it, you are going to have Nicco Marchiol under center this weekend. Garrett Greene is still recovering, and so the package needs to accentuate areas where this freshman can excel. The offense has been very RPO heavy under Greene, and in a way, this should continue. The difference being that an outside perspective can show Nicco is more accurate in the air across the entire field, lending an opportunity to exploit play action once the rushing attack is established. Marchiol can take off on his legs, but he is not the runner that Garrett is, so it is unlikely to see many designed runs over quick passes.

Let’s see this and more come to fruition this Saturday at 3:30 PM on ESPN+

Photo Credit: WVU Athletics

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Benjamin Gilbert
Benjamin Gilbert here - panhandle resident and enjoyer of Pitt losses. First and foremost, I am a lifelong West Virginia Mountaineer fan and do my best to inspire that passion in my beautiful wife and talented kids. Unfortunately, fandom doesn't always pay the bills. I have been writing for a decade and a half for various professions and multi-faceted franchises, so writing is what I do. Combining my skills with my passion for the WVU teams, I always seek to provide fair and honest takes on our path to finding the top of college athletics. Let's Go.