West Virginia (3-2) looks to defend home turf Saturday when it hosts No. 24 Texas Tech (4-1). It’ll be the second-straight ranked opponent, and third overall this year, for the Mountaineers.
As WVU attempts to halt its losing streak against ranked teams, to whom it’s dropped each of the last nine games, we take a look at the squad it’ll try to stop it against.
Moving the ball through the air still remains as Options 1, 2, and 3 for Kliff Kingsbury and Texas Tech.
First-year-starting quarterback Nic Shimonek has led one of top offenses in the nation to an impressive start to the year.
Behind Shimonek, the Red Raiders have the highest scoring offense and the second-best passing attack in the Big 12.
They also like to spread the ball around. Five TTU receivers have caught at least 10 passes this year. For comparison, WVU has just five wideouts with at least five catches.
Keke Coutee is Texas Tech’s leading receiver. He’s hauled in 39 catches for nearly 600 yards. Cameron Batson, Dylan Cantrell have each caught at least 22 passes. Derrick Willies has been a big-play threat, averaging a team-best 17.8 yards per catch.
Improving the Ground Game
Fourth-year offensive coordinator Eric Morris has possibly followed Dana Holgorsen’s lead in recognizing how important a good running game can be.
Justin Stockton paces the TTU rushing attack with nearly 400 yards total this year, good enough for 77 yards per game.
Desmond Nisby leads Texas Tech with six rushing touchdowns.
Defense still not a strong suit
The mark against Texas Tech for years has been a lack of defense in Lubbock.
Despite improvements on the defensive side of the ball, it’s still not a group Red Raider fans should be hanging their hat on.
TTU is surrendering the eighth-most points per game in the conference, and ranks among the bottom three teams in both rush and pass defense.
A large number of one-on-one matchups on the outside, with undersized DBs no less, could be responsible for some of the underperformance by TTU.
Defensive players to watch out for
Jordyn Brooks (42) and Jah’Shawn Johnson (40) are the leading tacklers.
Kollin Hill and Eli Howard pace the Red Raiders in tackles for loss, and are two of the six players with at least two stops behind the line of scrimmage. Howard also leads the way in sacks with 2.5.
Holgorsen mentioned at his Tuesday press conference that Texas Tech punter Dominic Panazzolo punts with an Australian rugby style, which can be difficult for return men.
Panazzolo is averaging 40 yards per punt and has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line five times.