High praise for the Texas Longhorns (5-5, 4-3) highlighted No. 24 West Virginia (7-3, 5-2) head coach Dana Holgorsen’s meeting with the media Tuesday.
Among those kudos was calling the Texas defense the best the Mountaineers have faced this season; the latest in a long line of stout defenses that WVU has faced this year. According to the head coach, as well as assistant coaches and players, WVU has its work cut out for them this weekend, and it starts when going up against the Longhorn defense.
Holgorsen highlighted the front six or seven of the Texas D. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital spoke highly of the secondary.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us, offensively,” Holgorsen said. “It’s the best defense we’ve faced.”
The head coach talked about the experience of the Longhorns on that side of the ball – noting that UT defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has, “Fifteen juniors and five seniors.”
Listed on the depth chart is a total of 17 upperclassmen, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t more waiting on the sideline. Spavital talked about the number of blitz packages that WVU could have to defend, coming from all areas of the field. Based on the talk Tuesday, Orlando should remind West Virginia fans of their own defensive coordinator, Tony Gibson, in that both will blitz on any given down if it feels right.
QB Carousel, Part 2
For the second week in a row, Gibson and company enter the week scratching their heads about which opposing quarterback they see. This week, though, it may be more of a matter of when than if.
According to coaches, listed starter Shane Buechele is more of a passer with a big arm that can run when needed. Listed backup Sam Ehlinger, who has started half of the Longhorns’ games this season, is more of an athletic quarterback that can hurt teams with his arm.
Asked how that affects game planning, Holgorsen said it can create a challenge, but mainly if the difference in quarterbacks dictates a different play calling need or strategy to stop him versus the other option.
Highly Praised Punter
Without being asked about him, Holgorsen talked about Longhorn punter Michael Dickson.
Dickson, out of Sydney, Australia, is a majority of the reason that Texas leads the nation in net punting (44.7 ypg) and is averaging over 48 yards per punt with a hang time, according to Holgorsen, that’s nearing five seconds.
That prompted Holgorsen to say this:
“Dude needs to go pro right now,” Holgorsen said. “He’s just a junior, but he needs to hurry up and get his degree and go pro. He’s that good.”
Still Looking for Consistency
When asked about his own offense, Holgorsen echoed some of the sentiments he made known after Saturday’s game, saying he wants the offense to be more consistent.
Tuesday he continued by saying that he’d like to see more consistent results on offense no matter who the Mountaineers are facing, and no matter what facet of the game you’re talking about – be it passing game, run game, blocking, etc.
Saturday’s game against Texas will be the final home game for the 20 seniors on the Mountaineer roster.
One oddity of this year’s senior class is that it’s split right down the middle. There are 10 fourth- and fifth-year seniors, and 10 junior college transfers. The best example of that split is with the White brothers, Ka’Raun and Kyzir. The former came to Morgantown after two years at Lackawanna College, and the latter has only played college football in the Old Gold and Blue.
“This is the end of the White era. That is sad,” Holgorsen said.
Holgorsen said his two “main guys” with this team have been Al-Rasheed Benton and Elijah Wellman, adding that the White brothers have also been special, but saying that all the seniors have been, not wanting to single or leave anyone out.