Coming off a disappointing loss to Syracuse last week the Mountaineers head to New Jersey to take on the Scarlet Knights. Although that is easier said than done since Rutgers is 2-1 in the Big East and has been playing some great ball recently.
Last week against Syracuse the Mountaineers' defense allowed a season high 49 points. They also allowed three touchdowns to Syracuse’s tight end. If there is any hope for the Mountaineers this week their defense will have to step it up. Rutgers' offense is ranked 53rd in passing and 112th in rushing, while those aren't superb stats the Mountaineer defense will have to plug up the holes and do a better job covering if they want to keep the Knights on their toes. Another area the defense has to focus on is turning the ball over and sacking the quarterback. As of right now the Mountaineer defense has six interceptions and very few sacks, if they want to improve on these two areas they will have to be faster coming off the line and have the quarterback make some bad decisions.
Geno Smith had a forgettable game last week by throwing for 338 yards two touchdowns and two interceptions. The whole offense just looked gassed and it looked like nobody really seemed to care after a while. Dustin Garrison and Shawne Alston didn’t really contribute much except Alston did have one rushing touchdown. The only receiver that stepped up was Stedman Bailey who had seven receptions for 130 yards and one touchdown. Their offense will have to get it together if they want to produce better and their offensive line will have to give Geno more time in the pocket in order for him to throw accurate passes. The offensive line will also have to create better holes for the running backs so that they can get more than two or three yards a carry.
Special teams also suffered at the hands of the Orange. They allowed a 98 yard kick return for a touchdown. Special teams have been one area that the Mountaineers have been struggling with this year. Mainly on defense, their ability to get around blocks hasn’t been very good and they seem to have problems tackling the return man. This has to be fixed and soon because teams will start capitalizing on these weaknesses. However, on offense special teams has been quite productive. They may not return many kicks for touchdowns, but the return men have been gaining big yards off very little returns. Against Syracuse Brad Starks racked up 78 yards on kick returns. If these players can get better blocking and find holes they will have no problem finding the end zone.
Based on these two teams performances this game looks like it could come down to the wire. If the Mountaineers are able to get the upper hand then they will be fist pumping back to Morgantown with a win.
Prediction: Rutgers-20 WVU-24
Player of the Game: Geno Smith 24-40 350 yards 3TDs 1INTBack to the West Virginia Mountaineers Newsfeed