West Virginia looks to avoid going 0-2 in Big 12 play

A week after being blown out and shutout by the Maryland Terrapins, the Mountaineers return home to battle the Oklahoma State Cowboys.  The Mountaineers looked terrible last week, and now they face a Cowboys’ team which this year is giving up just over 13 points per game to opponents.  West Virginia is definitely going to have their work cut out for them on Saturday.

After a great first start against Georgia State many fans thought Ford Childress would lead West Virginia to victory against Maryland.  How wrong they were. Childress threw for a disappointing 62 yards with two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.  Childress has to shake off his rough second outing if he has any hopes of redeeming himself against Oklahoma State.  They run a very good defense.  Already this season they’ve come up with seven sacks and four interceptions.  If Childress plays like he did last week, then this game will be over in the first half. 

And if Childress does struggle, it will be interesting to see if Head Coach Dana Holgorsen puts in Clint Trickett or Paul Millard.  Trickett might be the most viable option since he hasn’t played much, and if the Mountaineers are getting blown out then they really have nothing to lose by putting him in.  Millard seems to have fallen out of favor with Holgorsen, and probably the only time fans will see him again is if Childress and Trickett get hurt. 

While the passing game couldn't get anything going last week, the running game had a little bit more success.  Dreamius Smith continues to be stellar on the ground, with twelve carries for 74 yards against the Terps.  Whenever a running back has more yards than his quarterback it highlights just how poorly the QB played.  Charles Sims is usually the leading back, but against Maryland he accumulated only 35 yards on eight carries.  Sims was the leading receiver however, hauling in eight catches for 33 yards. 

With the running backs the only ones really doing anything last week, it would probably be in Holgorsen's best interest to use them more on Saturday. The Cowboys’ defense is giving up 122 yards per game to running backs this season, and the Mountaineers have the running backs who can put these numbers up and then some. 

WVU's receivers were practically non-existent against Maryland, with only TWO actual receivers making catches.  Ronald Carswell had one catch for twelve yards while Cody Clay also had one catch for eleven yards.  The rest of the receivers have to get open and give help to Childress when he needs it.  Daikiel Shorts needs to step up this week, since he is one of the top receivers on the team.  Shorts will attract the attention of the Cowboys’ corners and safeties so he will have to play aggressively if he wants to contribute.  Ivan McCartney, Kevin White and KJ Myers are three others who need to bring their A game on Saturday.  The three of them have been very effective this year and the Mountaineers are going to need all hands on deck this Saturday  to pull off an upset.

The defense didn't play well, seeing how they allowed 37 points.  They did play often, and Maryland ground them down with a variety of tempos and offensive sets to the point that they didn’t seem to be in any rhythm at all.  Even though the defense gave up a ton of points, one little positive is that they were able to come up with two fumble recoveries.  These didn’t amount to anything, but the fact that they were able to play tough even when there was little hope for the Mountaineers to come back and win this game, shows that the defense will not give up.  The defense better get back in rhythm this week since Oklahoma State is averaging 176 yards rushing and just over 300 yards passing per game.  If they don’t get it together fans may witness another blow out.

While the Mountaineers' rush defense is decent, the secondary got destroyed last week and you can guarantee the Cowboys watched that tape to see how to exploit them.  One player they will target to do this is wide receiver Josh Stewart.  Stewart has twelve catches for 185 yards and only one touchdown.  He may not be too impressive in the touchdown category, but he is a threat to advance the ball down the field and pick up first downs when they are needed.  If the secondary plays like it did last week there is no doubt he will put up over 100 yards receiving and adding to his touchdown total.  However, if the secondary gets back to the way they played earlier this season then it could be a long day for Stewart.

The bottom line is this, the Mountaineers will need a miracle if they hope to win this game and the way things have been going it doesn't look like that will happen.  There are few positive things to say about last week’s game and many fans are feeling the same way about Saturday’s game.  Saturday’s game is also designated as the Gold Rush game and it will be taking place at noon, which a lot of fans aren’t too happy about, but that is a complaint for another day. 

Prediction:  WVU-17  Oklahoma State-42

WVU Player of the Game:  Charles Sims  15 carries  102 yards  1 TD

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