All of Mountaineer Nation is well aware of the problems that have haunted the WVU football team in the past few seasons. The next two weeks could very well show whether those past problems are just that, in the past. The WVU defense has risen to the challenge the first two games of the season by shutting down the dangerous triple option offense of Georgia Southern and building momentum in a win over underdog Liberty. However, now Maryland and Big 12 conference foe Oklahoma are around the corner.
WVU will host Maryland (2-1) this upcoming Saturday and will be tested in all aspects of the game, specifically on special teams. Maryland return man William Likely has developed quite a reputation through the first 3 games of the season and will look to add to that against the Mountaineers. Likely started the season against Richmond breaking Big 10 records with 233 punt return yards including an 67 yard touchdown return. Likely wasted no time the following week when he picked up where he left off the week before on his first chance. Likely returned Bowling Green’s first punt 85 yards for a touchdown. Yesterday saw South Florida contain Likely in the return game which is something the Mountaineers will have to do next weekend.
The following week will open the Big 12 slate for the Mountaineers with a trip to Norman to take on the #16 Sooners. WVU has played the Sooners very well since joining the Big 12 but last season the WVU defense was exposed in the trenches and it’s a blueprint that Oklahoma will surely look to duplicate. Freshman running back Samaje Perine ran all over the Mountaineers to a total of 242 yards and 4 touchdowns including 3 touchdowns in the 2nd half. The size of Perine, 243 lbs., clearly gave the Mountaineers defense difficulties but WVU has spent the offseason fixing this problem and the 2015 results are much better so far. WVU has yielded only 287 total rushing yards on 85 attempts for a 3.37 yard per attempt average but to compare, this unit allowed 4.4 yards per carry last season it is an improvement. Even with all the improvements on the defense, Mountaineer fans are still haunted by what Perine was able to do last season and hope for better results in 2 weeks.
The WVU football team has made strides through the first two games of the 2015 season but the biggest test are on the way. If the Mountaineers are able to defeat both the Terrapins and the Sooners over the next two weeks then gear up Mountaineer Nation as the Mountaineers will become SERIOUS contenders in the national landscape.