Preview: West Virginia vs. Texas Tech

Texas Tech Red Raiders (1-3, 0-3)
West Virginia Mountaineers (3-1, 2-1)
October 24th @ 4:30 p.m.
Jones AT&T Stadium – Lubbock, Texas
West Virginia -3
Partly Cloudy, 70-49.

5 Players to Scheme Around

1. QB Jarrett Doege (6-2/208, Jr.): The other Doege has thrown for 260 yards a game, 7.0 yards per attempt, 8 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and a pretty decent rating of 137. Not great, but certainly enough to be pretty good. Not a runner at all, Doege has 16 rushing attempts with -47 yards, which means he might have been sacked quite a bit, but he is a capable athlete so don’t let the numbers fool you. He can scramble.

2. LB Tony Fields (6-1/220, Sr.): The transfer from Arizona and former teammate of Colin Schooler has been pretty good. 35 tackles, averaging 8.75 tackles a game, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 quarterback hurries, a sack, and an interception.

3. DL Darius Stills (6-1/185, Sr.) and DL Dante Stills (6-4/280, Jr.): Brothers forever. Darius is averaging about 2.5 tackles a game, has 5.5 tackles for a loss and 2 sacks. Dante averages 3.25 tackles a game, and 4 TFL.

4. RB Leddie Brown (5-11/210, Jr.): Brown is averaging 128.75 rushing yards a game and a shade under 23 receiving yards a game. Brown has been highly effective, averaging 6.36 yards every rush and 7.58 yards per catch with 5 touchdowns running and 2 receiving. Brown can break long runs and he’s got terrific size to run between tackles.

5. WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton (6-3/218, So.): Ford-Wheaton is basically a running back playing wide receiver. Terrific size and speed, averaging 15.15 yards a catch, 3 touchdowns, and only 49 yards a game, West Virginia is prone to letting lots of folks get involved. It’s not a one-man-show.

Thoughts Based on Some YouTube Video

That first pass by Doege is pretty dangerous. Double-coverage and in a tight window . . . slant plays are a killer for anyone, especially when the deep safety isn’t there and the defensive back was there for the interception, he just missed it . . . that pass right into the basket by Doege was sure pretty, that’s really ow it is supposed to work, not a complicated route or play, but good pitch and catch . . . the INT was just another bad play by the Kansas quarterback . . . this touchdown to Leddie Brown was just a flare out and good recognition of the Kansas defense not covering the running back AT ALL . . . Kansas quarterback making another really bad throw in a bad situation that he just made worse, that’s when you just know when to fold’em and throw it away . . . the WVU offensive line seems a bit porous, could be something to take advantage of . . . the Doege INT to open the second half is just terrible, it looked as if Doege had the play called and didn’t vary from it even a little bit, he was going to throw there no matter what . . . on the running back draw that goes for 86 yards, there are 11 Kansas defenders within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage and there is no one deep and that was some hella good blocking up front for about 3 seconds, that running back hit that quickly and fast . . . the Kansas quarterback is terrible . . . the play at the 5:40 point of the video, that’s a bit of a Kingsbury play, some movement, some faking, throw to an open receiver . . . Kansas’ inability to make tackles is reminiscent of a particular team that I am familiar with . . .


Back with TeamRankings. We dive in.

  • The key to WVU’s success has really been defense. This probably doesn’t sound like a ton, but the difference between points per play is staggering. WVU is allowing .325 points per play and Texas Tech is .517. That’s a lot and that may be too much to overcome. Texas Tech’s offense is slightly better than WVU’s in the same metric, Texas Tech is scoring .422 points per play while West Virginia is averaging .312.
  • The other staggering statistic is that West Virginia is really holding onto the ball, they have a time of possession advantage of 53.76% over opponents compared to 42.31% for Texas Tech. The Mountaineers are really holding onto the ball, while Texas Tech’s string of 3-and-outs have been an issue.
  • Despite West Virginia holding onto the ball, Texas Tech averages more yards per run, 4.7 to 3.6, but WVU averages 6.6 yards per pass to 6.0 for Texas Tech.
  • A possible advantage for Texas Tech would be that WVU allows a sack on 6.11% of all plays. The problem is that Texas Tech only sacks opposing QB’s 2.75% of the time. Conversely, WVU sacks opponents at a rate of 12.63% and Texas Tech only allows a sack 2.17% of the time. Perhaps having Columbi at quarterback mitigates that advantage for WVU.
  • West Virginia is running the ball 47.6% of the time and throwing the ball 52.4% of the time. Pretty balanced overall. Texas Tech is throwing 63.6% of the time, while running 36.7% of the time. I think some of these stats are skewed because of how the offense performed against Iowa State, but I think a strength of the team is running the ball.
  • West Virginia is only allowing 2.8 yards per run and that’s been a problem for Texas Tech when it is that much in favor of the opposing defense. The offensive line has to be better at opening up holes for the running back.
  • WVU isn’t a great third down team, only converting 33.3% of the time, compared to 38.64% for Texas Tech. When West Virginia gets into the red zone, they score 100% of the time.
  • Defensively, WVU does shine on third downs, allowing only a rate of conversion of 30.23%, compared to 40.48 for Texas Tech. The Mountaineers are also only allowing teams to score 50% of the time when opponents enter the red zone, compared to 94.12% for Texas Tech.
  • Despite Texas Tech billing itself as a fast offense, West Virginia is averaging 11 more plays a game. 72.7 for Texas Tech and 83.3 for West Virginia.
  • West Virginia is only allowing 251.7 yards a game, compared to 465.3 for Texas Tech. Woof.

General Thoughts and Prediction On the Game

This seems like a tough one. In fact, this seems incredibly tough given the situation. There should be a couple of caveats here before we begin. The West Virginia defense is statistically very good, but they’ve also played 3 Big 12 teams in Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas that rank last in offensive yards per play. So they have done quite well against very poor offensive teams. I’d also add that West Virginia’s offense hasn’t been great, it ranks 6th in yards per play on offense, while Texas Tech, who has been terrible offensively is 5th. However, West Virginia has also played 2 of the top 3 defenses in terms of yards per play, Oklahoma State and Baylor. West Virginia has only played 1 game on the road, the Oklahoma State loss so they’ve played at home for 3 of their 4 games.

I keep going back to the idea that Texas Tech’s best aspect is their wide receivers and for 4/5’s of the Iowa State game, they hardly participated because Bowman couldn’t get them the ball. I’d even be more specific in that Bowman played the game-plan exactly as was directed, but Bowman followed that plan literally and there was no creativity in the offense. Columbi adds that creativity I think, the question is if his grasp of the offense is sufficient to be more efficient. I think he will, so I’m not too worried about that.

Maybe the biggest part of what’s not being discussed, which is how the Texas Tech defense will match-up with the West Virginia offense. We’ve already mentioned that they’ve had to play the statistically good defenses, but just watching that video with Kansas, you can’t help but think that Doege could be prone to make mistakes and that’s something that Texas Tech has to take advantage of from the beginning.

My general keys to the game?

    • Put the ball in the hands of your best players away from the line of scrimmage. Bowman’s biggest fault is that once the first read was gone, he looked to dump to Thompson who had no room. It’s almost as if Iowa State knew exactly what would happen. Columbi isn’t on script as much and I think that’s to Texas Tech’s benefit.
    • The Texas Tech defense has to stop some people. Crazy. DC Patterson said that the defense has done a better job of stopping the big plays, which is true, but the converse has been that they’ve died via paper cuts and small, but consistent plays hoping that offenses will make mistakes that never happened. Get the fits and make some plays.
    • Stop letting special teams ruin games. It’s that simple.

I’ll take Texas Tech in a close game. I don’t think that West Virginia is as good as the record indicates. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good, but on the road, second straight week to play, Texas Tech has had a bye week to prepare for the game. The spread is only 3 and that makes me think that this is going to be closer than expected. Crazy? Yes.


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