Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Texas running back Johnathan Gray busts loose in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma during the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl Stadium.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A deeper look at the suddenly invigorated Texas Longhorns and the matchup problems they’ll present for West Virginia inside a striped stadium:

THREE-HEADED BACKFIELD
Johnathan Gray ranks second in the Big 12 in rushing (90.5 yards per game), but it’s Malcolm Brown who’s coming off a four-TD game against Kansas. The play of those five-star recruits has been so stellar that Joe Bergeron, who burned WVU for four touchdowns last season, may be an afterthought Saturday.

“I mean it just kind of shows you the talent at Texas that we have,” Brown said. “This team has just been blessed so much to have so much talent on this team and so many selfless guys that whoever scores, it doesn’t really matter.”

The Longhorns have become a run-first offense, bailing on early plans to use the uptempo spread attack.

“They tried to spread Iowa State out (on Oct. 3), but then the last three weeks they’ve used multiple tight ends, broad blocking surfaces, unbalanced (lines), running the power game,” WVU defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. “And they’ve got the backs to do that.”

After watching TCU throw it nearly 60 times last week, Patterson theorized Texas “might run it 60.”

Even after stuffing TCU’s run game, West Virginia still ranks only seventh (176 yards per game) in the Big 12 in rush defense.

“They’ve got the three great running backs in there, plus they’ve got the great offensive line,” said Mountaineers nose guard Shaq Rowell. “We have to be the most physical guys up front. If not, they’re going to run the ball down our throat.”

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Case McCoy has steered Texas to the top of the Big 12 standings.

 

THE NEXT McCOY
Though he’ll never match big brother’s hero status, four straight wins as a starter (and David Ash’s concussions) have given Chase McCoy a chance at a conference championship legacy, something he and this group of Texas seniors have never accomplished.

McCoy continues to play through rough patches, having thrown five interceptions and only three touchdowns the past three games. That has drawn constructive criticism from a certain San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback.

“(Colt) always has some interesting things to tell me, and he’s pretty hard on me, too,” Chase said this week.

Linebacker Jared Barber sees an opportunity for West Virginia to fluster McCoy into more mistakes: “Once we get after him, hopefully he’ll get a little frustrated and we can bother him a little bit.”

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Texas defensive end Cedric Reed (88) celebrates a stop during last week’s 35-13 win over Kansas.

 

THE ‘OTHER’ END
Bednarik semifinalist Jackson Jeffcoat has the NFL bloodlines and the team lead in sacks, but it’s Cedric Reed on the opposite side having the best all-around season. His 54 tackles lead the team, making him the only defensive lineman in the Big 12 to do so. He also has forced a team-high three fumbles, one shy of league leader Brandon Golson.

“I’ll put him up for the defensive player of the year award in the Big 12,” said Longhorns cornerback Quandre Diggs. “He’s always in the right place at the right time. Everything is happening for him, and heck, he’s leading the team in [pass breakups].  He does a little bit of everything. He can stop the run, also, and he gets after the passer.”

The 6-foot-6 junior with the even lengthier wingspan is seventh in the conference with 9.5 tackles for loss.

“With him, being a long guy, he’s able to use his length to his advantage,” said Jeffcoat, whose six sacks are one more than Reed. “He just sticks his arm out there, keeps linemen at bay, keeps them away from him, pushing them back into the quarterback.”

USA Today photo

Quandre Diggs has returned to cornerback after working at nickel back in the Longhorns’ 3-3-5 scheme.

 

A QUANDRE FOR WHITE
After TCU’s Jason Verrett blanketed him into submission, West Virginia’s Kevin White will face a matchup against another NFL-caliber cornerback, Quandre Diggs.

The brother of longtime NFL standout Quentin Jammer, Diggs started the year switching to nickel back—the position previously manned by first-round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro. But with Texas playing more 3-4 recently, Diggs has returned to cornerback the past two games.

He’s also been outspoken about critics who panned Texas after its 1-2 start.

“We live life and we pay attention to things just like everybody else,” Diggs said. “At the beginning of the year everybody doubted us, nobody believed, and now you have people saying we’re playing some of the best ball in the country.”

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Comments

  • Benedict

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  • fuz

    DWM. no.

  • DWM

    I noticed that the NY Football Jets aren't using Geno this weekend. Wouldn't it be a good idea to sneak him into a Blue and Gold uni, I think it would heal our passing ills.

  • GoEers

    Saturday will be a historic day in WVU athletics as we welcome fellow Big 12 conference member Texas on their first visit to Mountaineer Field.

    I will be at the game, but it will be a great day to be a Mountaineer wherever you may be!!!

    Let's Go Mountaineers!

  • Mister Man

    Welcome to WV Texas fans. Good luck, but go Mountaineers!!

  • greg

    if they run a 3-3-5 defense, take a lesson from Boston College or Syracuse and line up with 2 tight ends. Pound them into submission and hit a tight end down the seam every so often. how many times did they do that when WV ran the 3-3-5?

  • Mountaineer fanatic

    As fans we were told that if the team beat TCU we would be honored with a bowl game. No game is a sure thing. We need to beat Texas and then we can worry about beating the next two teams. For now it is Texas. We need both O and D.
    LETS GOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS!!!!!

  • Jason

    If Sims gets 25-30 touches we win. If not then we lose. My prediction 31-21 Texas and Sims has 18 touches.

  • Hop'sHip

    Maybe we could get the Longhorns to make like Ducks and spot us a 26 point lead into the 4th quarter, and see if we can hold on. We have definitely been remarkable in our clock management this year.

  • big tom

    please people, you make too much out of beating a bad team like tcu,,,, remember the quality of the opponent, and the level of competition.... beating a bad team, you guys get carried away thinking we're something we are not...

    now this texas team will tell us somethings,, beating them ,well, we can say or use all the bragging rights, but beating tcu,, well , let's hold off trying totell the world how great we are.

  • Tyler

    Not sure if we have a chance in this one. But, I guarantee the fans will show up full force and be crazy and loud. The players seem to respond to the home field advantages more than ever this year. You just never know what will happen in Morgantown at night ;)

  • tw eagle

    like most football games , the outcome of this contest will swing on whether the WVU safeties read the opponents plays correctly . . .being a bone crushing run stopper is only part of the safeties responsibilities . . . lending support to the LB's and corners in pass D is just as important . . .biting too soon on play action has left giant holes and wide seams in the secondary for their opponents to take advantage of . . .film study usually turns up the 'keys' to getting your play reads on the right page . . .IT IS THE FUNCTION of the coaching staff to break down the films and go over them with the players till the players can see and understand what will be coming at them . . .

    like strother martin once said . . .it seems we have a failure to communicate here . . .

    Let's Gooo Mountaineeerrrsss ! ! !

  • Tim C

    Tough one....we have to play our best game and not get down early. The fans need to act like they have rabies the whole game. The players feed of of that.

  • ducks in a row

    Kick their tails and burn their ugly flags that seem to fly over everything. Don't ever allow the tall hat, highfalutin foes from their self proclaimed republic grace the hallowed ground nearest heaven, and depart victorious. Beat'em down like it were the Alamo! Let's Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ^^^ Sorry. I got a little excited there...

  • Doug

    I don't put everything on Kevin White but when you play against cornerbacks like that, you have to have a QB that can put the ball in small space that only our receivers can catch. We don't have a QB that can do that. Trickett is only good for about 15-20 yards accurately