Keys to the Game: West Virginia

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WHITE-OUT

West Virginia Senior Kevin White may be the most dynamic receiver in the country. The transfer from Lackawanna College has raked in 1,075 receiving yards, third-highest total in the nation, and eight touchdowns.

Junior corner Duke Thomas will likely line up across the superstar receiver, as senior Quandre Diggs continues to line up over the slot receiver. Opposing quarterbacks will pick on Thomas regardless of who he faces, and West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett could have a field day if Texas cannot find a way to neutralize the Mountaineers’ best offensive weapon.

Thomas and company will have to make sure that they are just as strong after the catch as before. White has the elusiveness to tear through the Longhorn secondary all game long if the Texas defensive backs cannot bring him down on
first contact. 

START STRONG

The Texas offense tends to sputter for a series or two before settling in for sustained drives, but that approach will not be enough Saturday. The Mountaineer offense is explosive enough to score from anywhere on the field, and it has too much talent to falter as the game goes on.

The Longhorns will need to start scoring early and often if they want to hang with a top-25 team like West Virginia. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, West Virginia has excelled on opening drives. The Mountaineers have only given up two opening-drive scores this season, and opponents are averaging a scant 4.4 points in the first quarter.

The odds are against the Longhorns, but the offense has enough talent to light up the scoreboard when firing on all cylinders. Texas will have to do just that if it’s going to knock off the Mountaineers. 

KEEP SWOOPES CLEAN

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has the arm of an All-American, but he has struggled mightily to make accurate throws against disruptive pass rushes. Swoopes has a tendency to flinch in the face of oncoming blitzes, leading to wobbly passes that force his receivers to break stride and do all they can to prevent interceptions.

In recent weeks, Swoopes’ best asset has been his deep ball, but it takes time for deep routes to develop. He has yet to show the ability to consistently check out of his first option and accurately hit receivers on short routes over the middle when the deep ball is not there.

The Mountaineers will light up the scoreboard regardless of the opponent. Swoopes is the key to turning this game into a shoot-out, rather than a blowout, and the offensive line will have to give the youngster enough time to do so.