WVU Offensive and Defensive X-Factors against Texas

Morgantown, West Virginia – The West Virginia Mountaineers (2-2) currently sitting as a 10-point underdog as they head to Austin, Texas this weekend to face the Texas Longhorns (2-2). The biggest question going into this game, is who will be starting at quarterback for Texas? Quinn Ewers who was named the starter right before the season opener suffered an injury in week 2 while the Longhorns hosted the Crimson Tide.

This past weekend, Texas faced Texas Tech and going into the game, Ewers was listed as the “co-starter”. Reports of the injury have stated anywhere from 1-8 weeks as the time-frame for an Ewers return. Who starts at quarterback will be significant but it will not change how the Mountaineers game-plan for the upcoming road trip.

The West Virginia secondary has struggled more often than not this season. Thankfully, the last two quarters of game time have been the best of the season for the young secondary. And this weekend, they will have their hands full, especially if Xavier Worthy plays (he is day-to-day at the moment). Worthy has the ability to take the top off of the defense and make big time plays. How can WVU answer? I don’t see the defense stopping Xavier but I do think the defense can get enough pressure on the quarterback to slow down the passing attack.

Not only will they be able to slow down the air raid, I believe they will also disrupt Bijan Robinson in the running game, if his blockers struggle to get to the second level of the defense. Texas likes running the ball off-tackle, which means the West Virginia’s Sean Martin will be wherever the ball is. And Sean definitely has the ability to make big time plays and change the game. As Dante Stills continues to draw double teams and Jordan Jefferson plugs up the nose, Sean Martin has been causing havoc and will be the difference for the Mountaineers defense.

Even if the defense plays to their potential, the offense will still have to move the ball down the field and score points. That hasn’t been too big of an issue so far, as JT Daniels has been efficient and CJ Donaldson has been nothing short of amazing. Now, there’s plenty of film for the two newcomers and defenses are going to keep learning how to slow down this offense lead by Graham Harrell. Texas has a solid pass coverage, especially in corner back Ryan Watts who transferred from Ohio State. Watts is very solid in man coverage and will more than likely be lining up across from Bryce Ford-Wheaton, who is the best wide receiver for the West Virginia offense. It’s going to be a very intriguing matchup and I would not be surprised to see another receiver leading the Mountaineers this weekend. With that being said, tight end Mike O’Laughlin (who is just getting healthy) could be the most crucial player on offense, if WVU wants to win this one. He can play as an extra blocker on the edges, which could help the duo in the backfield get going. He also has enough athleticism to make the defense worry about him running routes and making catches. That’s if the offense gives him some targets because I am sure he will be the lead block more than a few times.