MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia and Oklahoma State matched up in the second-to-last regular season game of 2019. They will share the field at Boone Pickens Stadium this afternoon in the second game of the COVID-altered 2020 season.
Coaching staffs and personnel for both teams are largely similar, but with some notable exceptions. Oklahoma State will have some firepower back on their offense that wasn’t on display at Milan Puskar Stadium in OSU’s 20-13 win on Senior Day.
“You go back to last year and (Spencer) Sanders was out. (Tylan) Wallace was out. Some of the stuff matches up and it is redundant,” said WVU defensive line coach Jordan Lesley. “You go back and look at it. Does it match? Some of it, yeah. Some of it, no. It is probably flip a coin, 50-50.”
“Defensively, they were quite a bit different last week (vs. Tulsa). You don’t know why that was,” said WVU head coach Neal Brown. “Are they going to be different? Or were they just a little bit different last week? You really look at not necessarily the schematics of it, but more the one-on-one matchups — the O-line vs. D-line, the receivers vs. the defensive backs. You go back and see how individual players did. That is kind of the way we have attacked that.
“This is a difficult prep game for us defensively. They do have a new play caller. We are unsure who is going to be quarterback. Now in this game, they do have Tylan Wallace, which is a whole different piece than when we played them last year at the end of the year. Normally it would be a good thing. I am not sure it makes much of a difference this time.”
Pump up the volume (sort of)
Boone Pickens Stadium features a normal seating capacity of 55,509. On Saturday, OSU will welcome approximately 15,000 fans in. It will be the only time the Mountaineers will play in front of a crowd consisting of more than family members until at least October 17. Next Saturday’s home game vs. Baylor is closed to the general public.
“I think our guys will be charged to see some people in the stands and play in front of,” said WVU offensive coordinator Gerad Parker. “You actually have a discussion about noise up there with the size of the stadium and the things they create. I have never had the opportunity to go up there and play. So it is going to be good for our guys to go out there and get in front of some energy. I know it will be a reduced crowd but at the same time, it will be good to see some people up there.”
“It has been a long time so we are happy about that,” said WVU defensive lineman Jeffrey Pooler. “We didn’t have a lot of fans but we had our families so it was a little bit to look forward to last week. Having more around is going to be more of a college football atmosphere.”
Hello, old friend
Josh Sills started 24 games on the WVU offensive line before transferring to Oklahoma State. He was limited to just two games a year ago in an injury-shortened season for the Mountaineers. Sills is slated to start for the Cowboys at left guard today.
“Josh has been really good for us,” said Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy. “He has come in for us and competed. It took him a while to get back in shape. He was off. Then the virus hit. He went back home and I think hunted for three months and then came back and had to get in shape again. But he has been good for us. He is a good leader. He likes to play football and he is a good person. We are certainly glad he is on our team.”
“We are going to line up and he is going to play offense,” Brown said. “Our defensive guys are going to go out there and play. We wish him the best of luck. I actually don’t want him to have a whole lot of success in this game. But after that, we wish him the best of luck.”
“We came in the same year in the 2016 class,” Pooler said. “So it is going to be fun to play against each other. We’re on different sides of the ball so we had a lot of competition in practice.”