Lubbock, TX (Sports Network) - Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Geno Smith, the
fifth-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers continue their assault on all comers,
and they will play their second straight game in the Lone Star State this
Saturday when they battle the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a Big 12 Conference
West Virginia is one of only a handful of teams still undefeated at this point
in the season, having jumped out to a 5-0 start, which includes a 2-0 mark in
its first season as a member of the Big 12. Both league bouts have been high-
scoring affairs, with WVU outlasting both Baylor (70-63) and Texas (48-45).
Texas Tech enjoyed a fast start to the season as well, the team winning each
of its first four games, all by double figures. The Red Raiders were really
hoping to make a statement in last week's clash with the visiting Oklahoma
Sooners, but a lackluster rushing attack and too many mistakes cost the team
in what wound up as a 41-20 loss.
This game marks just the second meeting between West Virginia and Texas Tech
on the football field, with the Mountaineers winning the first, 7-6, in the
1938 Sun Bowl.
With Smith setting the college football world on fire this season, the West
Virginia offense is averaging 52.0 points and 570.8 total yards per game.
Smith has been almost perfect in completing 81.4 percent (166-of-204) of his
passes for 1,996 yards (399.2 ypg), and his TD-to-INT ratio is an unbelievable
24-0. His success wouldn't be assured if not for the outstanding play of WRs
Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, the two combining for 107 catches, 1,372
yards and 21 TDs in only five games. When coach Dana Holgorsen decides to keep
the ball on the ground, RB Andrew Buie gets the call more times than not, and
he has responded by averaging better than five yards per carry in amassing 433
yards and five TDs.
Last week against Texas, Smith threw for 268 yards and four TDs, while Buie
ran for a career-high 207 yards and two scores to help power the Mountaineers
to the three-point victory. Austin finished with 10 receptions for 102 yards
and a TD, while Bailey caught three TD passes in tallying eight grabs for 75
yards. Buie took three passes and turned them into 66 yards.
Holgorsen took a break from his usual praise of Smith to give credit to the
guys who did most of the grunt work against the Longhorns.
"We just lined up and ran it right at them. I'm proud of Buie and I can't say
enough about the offensive line."
The UT defense was credited with as many sacks (four) as the Mountaineers had
allowed in their first four games combined. A couple of telling stats from the
game -- while West Virginia converted a mere 3-of-12 third-down attempts, the
Mountaineers made good on all five of their fourth-down tries. Additionally,
they came away with point on all seven of their trips to the red zone,
including five TDs.
West Virginia's weakness on defense is its effort against the pass, as foes
are airing the football out to the tune of 339 ypg, although they've scored
the same number of TDs both rushing and passing (11). Isaiah Bruce continues
to pace the unit with 53 tackles, and he has recovered a pair of fumbles as
well. Terence Garvin has four of the team's 14 sacks.
Texas generated 269 yards through the air against the WVU defense, but scored
only one TD that way, instead relying on RB Joe Bergeron to sniff out the end
zone, which he did four times on the day. Still, the Longhorns averaged just
3.5 yards per rush attempt in totaling 135 rushing yards.
Texas Tech, while not nearly as explosive an offensive squad as its
counterpart in this one, still manages to produce 39.0 ppg, with its effort on
the ground churning out 168.4 ypg and its aerial pursuits resulting in 341.2
ypg. QB Seth Doege has been solid in connecting on 69.4 percent of his passes
for 1,392 yards with 15 TDs and six interceptions. Eric Ward and Darrin Moore
are the team's top receivers, each hauling in 20 balls for a combined 480
yards and eight scores. As for the Tech running game, Kenny Williams has
gained 345 yards and Eric Stephens another 292, the duo combining for five of
the team's six rushing scores.
Despite throwing for more than 200 yards last week against Oklahoma, Doege was
picked of three times and failed to throw a TD pass in what wound up as a 21-
point loss to the visiting Sooners. Moore led all Texas Tech receivers with
five catches for 80 yards, while SaDale Foster paced an anemic rushing attack
with 44 yards and a TD on 11 carries. The unit as a whole finished with just
89 net rushing yards, and the Red Raiders lost the game even though they
converted 60 percent (9-of-15) of their third-down tries.
While the offense has performed well this season, the real story for the Red
Raiders has been the play of the defense. The unit is being scored upon for
only 16.8 ppg, and its effort against both the run (92.6 ypg, three TDs) and
pass (117.4 ypg, four TDs) has been exceptional. It's a good thing the unit
has been as stout as it has at the point of attack, as a glaring lack of big
plays (nine sacks, six turnovers) has to cause at least some concern for head
coach Tommy Tuberville. DB Cody Davis is the team's top tackler with 32, and
he and secondary mate Cornelius Douglas have two interceptions apiece.
Oklahoma used a methodic game plan, as it produced 131 yards on the ground and
another 259 through the air last week against the Red Raiders. The Sooners
were guilty of only one turnover, and Texas Tech failed to come up with a sack
on 40 pass plays. OU was 6-of-6 in the red zone (four TDs, two FGs). Safety
D.J. Johnson led the TTU stand with 10 tackles, nine of which were solo
efforts, while Douglas made three of his seven stops behind the line of
Following the game, Tuberville expressed his dismay with the outcome while
also giving credit to Oklahoma.
"We're not that bad a football team. We looked pretty bad at times, but good
teams can make you look bad," he continued, "They were fresh. They were quick.
They were fast. A lot quicker than I thought they would be. They made plays,
and we just dug ourselves a hole we couldn't get out of. So we'll go back to
the drawing board and get ready for next week."
The Sports Network