This Saturday, West Virginia heads to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on the 15th ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Mountaineers are currently in the midst of five-game losing streak to the Cowboys, and will be seeking every opportunity to finally snap their misfortunes.
Today, we give you our KEYS TO THE GAME for the Mountaineers, and what we feel is their best path to victory this weekend:
- Stop Chuba Hubbard – simple enough, right?
For the first time in what seemed like forever, Cowboys running back Chuba Hubbard was held under 100-yards rushing last week. Tulsa’s defense seemingly lived in Oklahoma State’s backfield for the entire game. While Mike Gundy and company were able to flex their talent superiority over the Golden Hurricanes, this will not be the case when they play West Virginia. If the Mountaineer defensive line can disrupt Hubbard and once again make his life a living hell behind the porous Oklahoma State offensive line, the team will be in good shape to win.
- Run the damn ball…and then run it some more:
If West Virginia can successfully slow down the Cowboys’ offense, it will all but likely slow the entire pace of the game. The Mountaineers had a plethora of success running the ball against Eastern Kentucky, and they need to recapture that success if they wish to beat Oklahoma State. Slowing the game down and putting it in the hands of Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield sets West Virginia up the best to grind out a 2-0 start.
Tulsa finished with 3.5 yards per carry against the Cowboys last week. If West Virginia can average at least 4.5 yards per carry on Saturday, and keep the ball on the ground 50 times at the minimum, it will all but surely swing time of possession in their favor. The best way to stop Hubbard is to keep him off the field, and the Brown-Sinkfield duo have the ability to do so. Grind it out, run the ball, and play keep away.
- “Pooch” Kick on Kickoffs:
This one may seem out in left field somewhere, but it makes all the sense in the world. West Virginia had all sorts of problems covering the EKU kickoff return unit. The Mountaineer special teams even gave up a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown that was luckily called back due to penalty.
The Cowboys have more talent than the Colonels – especially on special teams. Having Staley kick it to Oklahoma State’s up-men during kickoffs will be the Mountaineers’ safest bet to avoid surrendering a short field to Hubbard and the Cowboy offense. Field position battles are crucial in matchups like this, and West Virginia has to be careful to limit Oklahoma State’s explosiveness in the third aspect of the game.
- Hit on Your Deep Shots:
During his meeting with the media today, Quarterback Jarret Doege stated that the Mountaineers must “make them pay” when the Cowboys play man coverage. When Oklahoma State lines up in man-to-man against the West Virginia offense, it will give players like Sam James and Bryce Ford-Wheaton to take the top off of the defense.
If Doege can hit on deep shots when the Mountaineers take them, it will knock the Cowboys defense off balance enough to open lanes for the all-important running game.