Morgantown, West Virginia – The West Virginia Mountaineers (2-2) welcome the Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-1) to Milan Puskar Stadium today. Both teams are coming off losses – West Virginia suffered a heartbreaking 16-13 loss at #4 Oklahoma and Texas Tech was crushed 70-35 at Texas – and this is a very important conference game for the Mountaineers and the Red Raiders.
Here’s how our experts think the game will play out today:
Tucker Via, Writer, The Voice of Motown (2-2 on the season)
West Virginia has a chance to redeem themselves today against a truly down bad Red Raider squad. Coming off a 70-35 loss and starting quarterback is injured? West Virginia takes care of business today. The defense shines per usual and the offense gains some momentum. I predict 7 second half points instead of 3.
WVU 26 Texas Tech 13
Rosanna Scott, Writer, The Voice of Motown (0-0 on the season)
Today’s match up against Texas Tech sees the Mountaineers favored by 7, while also holding the 5-4 record in matches between the two since joining the Big 12. The Red Raiders are currently 3-1 on the season, after suffering a pulverizing 35 point loss to the Texas Longhorns last weekend. The game also saw starting quarterback, Tyler Shough, suffer a collarbone injury in the second quarter that will sideline him for the next six weeks. WVU stands 2-2 for the year after their heartbreaking loss to the Sooners during the final moments of last week’s contest. Each team will be looking for redemption during their 10th meeting, and each desperately needing a morale boost after last week.
Texas Tech is actually a much better team than their game last week reflects.Prior to that dismal performance they had held opponents to fewer than 300 yards in two of three weeks. Perhaps most impressively, they still managed over 500 total yards for the second week in a row. Even though they are without their starting QB this week, they have the advantage of backup Henry Colombi who stepped in to go for 324 yards on 23 attempts after Slough left the game. (In comparison Jarrett Doege who played the majority of the game for the Mountaineers only had 160 yards passing, with one interception.)
The Mountaineers defense stepped up in a huge way last week by holding a potentially dangerous Rattler led Sooner offense to only 313 total yards. Which was arguably the brightest moment of the game for WVU fans, as there were no real offensive success stories to talk about. I stand firmly by the statement that WVU has the best defense in the Big 12. As great as they are, though, they cannot continue to carry the weight for the entire team. It is unfair and unrealistic to expect them week after week to perform when we do not hold the same expectations for the offense.
I realize that I’m about to sound like a broken record stuck on repeat but bare with me a moment. Last week I suggested that Neal Brown move toward a two quarterback approach, and despite the bad snap last week and Greene’s issues I still fully support this statement. As mentioned previously Jarrett Doege continues to struggle, each week seems to be getting worse. By now every team in the nation knows that our quarterback situation is the “Achilles Heel” of Mountaineer football. It is well documented, and will continue to be exploited week after week by opponents if we do not do something to remedy the situation. I realize that there are those out there who will say if we did not try this approach last week the bad snap would not have happened. However, to that I say, perhaps if there was more familiarity with both quarterbacks it wouldn’t have happened either.
To be a truly rounded team every position must have depth. At any given time you must have someone who is fully capable and competent to step into a starter’s shoes and fulfill that role. If nothing else Greene and Crawford both need opportunities to further develop their skills in game situations if for no other reason than “what if”. For instance, looking at the situation that arose for the Red Raiders last week with the injury of Slough, I cannot help but think having a backup with experience on WVU’s sideline is more important than ever. As it stands now I do not think the Mountaineers would fare nearly as well if a similar situation happened to Doege.
In a similar situation many other teams would have already moved to make a change at the quarterback position. Perhaps Doege will dig deep and use the adversity as fuel to silence those who question his abilities, in turn proving what Neal Brown has said all along. However, if we were talking about a car that was losing performance week after week, and continued to have issues everytime we took it on a trip, most people would say it’s time to have some work done to it or buy a new car. I’m not saying that it’s time to bench Doege completely, but I am saying that it’s past time to start looking towards the future and making moves to address the issue before it gets any worse.
On a similar note, if WVU gets the lead today, Neal Brown must fight the urge to shut down and revert to “safe mode”. We have seen him do this multiple times throughout his career. It’s almost as if he thinks “if we get to such a point lead” then we can just maintain for the remainder of the game. This often ends up costing WVU, most recently, almost costing them the game against Virginia Tech. I’m not sure where this mentality comes from, or why it happens. I understand not feeling the need to take the risk of players being injured, however, as I have mentioned about the quarterback position, use this as an opportunity to gain depth in all positions. Give your second or even third string players some playing time. Encourage them to go out there and continue to play with the same intensity that you pushed your starters with, call the big plays, take the risks. At this level, it’s okay to finish strong, you don’t have to be ashamed of a solid performance by limiting your players or shutting down at a certain score.
Winning is great, and each game every team should hit the field wanting to win, and expecting to win. However a win isn’t always defined by a “W” or “L” in a column. Sometimes a win can simply be breaking a losing streak on a road, or to a specific team, or with a solid performance. At this point I think, even though I fully believe that WVU will beat the Red Raiders on Saturday, if there is some sort of offensive improvement , and a solid performance for four quarters then regardless of the final score it will be a win in the eyes of many.
WVU 20 Texas Tech 17
Brad Smith, Senior Writer/Owner, The Voice of Motown (4-0 on the season)
Texas Tech’s defense is bad, giving up 33.5 points and 377.8 yards of total offense per game, including 125 yards per game on the ground. West Virginia’s offense, howeer, isn’t much better, particularly with Jarret Doege behind center.
With that said, Garret Greene should see more action and Leddie Brown should have a monster game.
Although Henry Columbi completed 17 of 23 passes for 324 yards with three touchdowns last week against Texas and single-handedly beat the Mountaineers last season, West Virginia’s defense has been tremendous against far better mobile quarterbacks than Columbi this season.
I like the Mountaineers in a shut out.
WVU 31 Texas Tech 0