After a disappointing home loss to Louisville, the Mountaineers take on the Bearcats in Paul Brown Stadium. This is a must win game for the Mountaineers since they are currently fourth in the Big East with Cincinnati sitting in first.
Last week it seemed like only a few offensive players stepped it up. The receivers couldn’t catch the balls thrown in their direction and their top running back only had 64 yards on the ground. Geno Smith looked like the only player that was trying; he had 410 yards passing although he should have had a lot more. If the offense wants to redeem themselves they will have to learn to catch the ball as well as establish a running game. They have perfectly good running backs they just don’t give them the ball, part of that is because Dana Holgorsen’s system focuses more on the pass, but it doesn’t mean you completely abandon the run game. In the wide receiver department they have to do a much better job at catching the ball. Stedman Bailey dropped multiple passes and could have gotten at least another touchdown. Bailey even dropped a few passes when he was wide open. This is unacceptable, hopefully during practice this week he was more focused and will be prepared to make plays when his number is called.
The defense had a great start to the game, but began to fizzle away after halftime. They did record four sacks and an interception, but they allowed 38 points. The defense has allowed 27.4 points per game which is 65th overall. While four sacks in a game is good for the Mountaineer defense they need to make it a more consistent action if they want to keep the opposing team off the scoreboard. Their secondary needs to increase their speed in order to keep up with the receivers and be able to pick off a few passes while they are at it. The biggest area the defense has to focus on against the Bearcats is getting to their quarterback. If they can get to him like they did against Louisville’s then they instill some fear into him when he drops back to pass.
The biggest concern for the Mountaineers is the entire special teams. Over the last couple of games they have been pitiful. The punters have barely been able to kick the ball inside the twenty at all this year. Tyler Bitancurt has missed a few easy field goals and an extra point. The biggest problem is the tackling of the defensive special teams. They have allowed huge yards to punt and kick returners all season. The offensive special teams has done an ok job, Tavon Austin has had some big returns and a couple of touchdowns. The special teams will greatly have to step up their game if they want to contribute to a win.
This will be a tough game for the Mountaineers especially the way they have been playing lately. If the Mountaineers have any hope of winning the offense, defense and special team will all have to build off one another if they want to win this game.
Prediction: Cincinnati-31 WVU-21
WVU Player of the Game: Geno Smith 30-45 425 yards 3TDsBack to the West Virginia Mountaineers Newsfeed