WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

Mountaineer Matchups — my weekly look at the head to head battles for WVU football — still runs in the print product even though we no longer do the weekly Mountaineer Gameday section anymore. Matchups needed a home online, so here we are. Lots more after the jump:

 

WVU PASS OFFENSE vs. NC STATE PASS DEFENSE

West Virginia quarterback Austin Kendall had six passes dropped in the first game and was hit 20 times in the second game — it’s hard to do much in the pass game when that’s the case. N.C. State, meanwhile, has a decent pass rush and secondary, allowing an average of 163 passing yards per game. Junior cornerback Chris Ingram has the Wolfpack’s only interception of the season and is second on the team with 10 total tackles.

EDGE: NC STATE

 

WVU PASS DEFENSE vs. NC STATE PASS OFFENSE

Defensive tackle Darius Stills has been great rushing the passer so far this season with three sacks to lead the Mountaineers, and this week is going up against an offensive line that has allowed six sacks in two game. The secondary has held up for the most part, allowing 153 passing yards per game. NC State is still breaking in first-year starting quarterback Matt McKay. The redshirt sophomore has completed 43 of 65 pass attempts for 508 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

EDGE: WVU

 

WVU RUN OFFENSE vs. NC STATE RUN DEFENSE

Let’s keep it real here: West Virginia has been awful when it tries to run the ball so far in 2019. The blocking has been bad all around, and the running backs have not done themselves many favors. WVU coach Neal Brown said to expect sophomore Alec Sinkfield to see more of the ball this week against an NC State defense that has been among the nation’s best against the run so far. Redshirt freshman linebacker Payton Wilson is third on the team with nine tackles including two for losses.

EDGE: NC STATE

 

WVU RUN DEFENSE vs. NC STATE RUN OFFENSE

There has been room to run on this WVU defense so far in 2019. Sophomore linebacker Josh Chandler leads the team with 21 tackles, but zero of those have come behind the line of scrimmage. For the Wolfpack, freshman running back Zonovan “Bam” Knight has transformed from spring game phenom to legitimate game-breaker. Knight averages nearly six yards per carry and leads NCSU with 161 rushing yards so far this season.

EDGE: NC STATE

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker Evan Staley missed his only field goal attempt for West Virginia in last week’s 38-7 loss on the road at Missouri, putting him at .500 for the season with two made and two missed. Sophomore kicker Christopher Dunn has been perfect so far in 2019 on field goal attempts for North Carolina State, connecting on all four of his attempts — though none have been longer than 34 yards. Neither WVU or NC State have done much worth noting in the kickoff or punt return games.

EDGE: NC STATE

 

INTANGIBLES:

WVU has designated this its “Gold Rush” game while first-year coach Neal Brown and his staff figure to have their hands full against a pretty good North Carolina State team on Saturday. Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren has turned NC State into a consistent winner in the ACC and now he has the Mountaineers’ former defensive coordinator, Van native Tony Gibson, helping coach his team this season. Depth, as has been the case, continues to be a concern for WVU

EDGE: NC STATE

 

PREDICITION: Gibby’s homecoming a happy one for his Wolfpack. NC State 31, West Virginia 10.