LUBBOCK, Texas — Dravon Askew-Henry has witnessed two West Virginia victories at Jones AT&T Stadium.
He hopes Saturday brings the hat trick.
“It’s sorta wild there,” the Mountaineers safety said. “I remember all the crazy stuff the fans were saying. They were into it.”
Askew-Henry was in street clothes for the 2016 game, rehabbing a knee injury that kept him out all season. West Virginia dominated that one 48-17.
Two years earlier, Askew-Henry was among the players who had fun with fans in postgame after Josh Lambert’s walk-off field goal delivered a 37-34 win.
While West Virginia (3-0, 1-0 Big 12) is best known for Will Grier’s passing barrage, the defense has been a pleasant surprise. It is tied for the FBS lead in points allowed (12.3), which is a fraction of what Texas Tech’s insane offense has averaged (52.0).
With true freshman Alan Bowman making the most of an injury that elevated him to starting quarterback, the Red Raiders top the nation in total offense (623.5).
“They move fast, they get a lot of first downs,” Askew-Henry said. “I feel like if we win on first down that will be the key for us.”
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, on the hot seat after a season-opening loss to Ole Miss, has won three straight in the interim to steer his team back into the AP top 25. The lightly recruited Bowman is his latest passer to generate mind-boggling stats. Two weeks ago the newcomer threw for 605 yards and five scores in a 63-49 victory over Houston.
“Not surprisingly, he found himself another young quarterback that is as good as advertised,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Ever since (Bowman) stepped in against Ole Miss, they’ve been playing at a very high level offensively. Kliff is doing a great job of mentoring that kid, training him, getting him ready to go, protecting him.”
But Texas Tech (3-1, 1-0) is coping with its perpetual defensive shortcomings, at least until last week’s 41-17 upset at Oklahoma State.
Holgorsen credited the return of senior safety Jah’Shawn Johnson for the strong showing in Stillwater, when Texas Tech yielded only 386 yards and limited OSU to 3-of-13 on third downs.
“Those are the kind of things we wanted to do,” Johnson said. “We knew that if they couldn’t throw it around the middle of the field that we had a good chance of defending the deep ball so that was good on our part.”
Don’t expect WVU’s Grier to replicate Taylor Cornelius’ 18-of-38 passing, however. The nation’s No. 2-rated quarterback led the Mountaineers to 29 unanswered points in the second half of last year’s 46-35 victory in Morgantown.
Both teams feature a run-by-committee ground game with several backs who could turn up pivotal moments.