After falling to No. 6 Oklahoma this past weekend, the West Virginia football team will now look forward and set their sights on Texas Tech for this weekend’s matchup back in Morgantown in the Mountaineers Big 12 home opener.
The Red Raiders are coming off their first loss of the season to Texas on Saturday getting demolished by the Longhorns in a final score of 70-35. Texas Tech’s defense was exposed on the day giving up 639 total yards of offense to the Texas offense. Individually, the Red Raiders defense was led by a couple players who only came up with four tackles of their own in defensive backs Eric Monroe and Adrian Frye.
The first three victories of the year for Texas Tech came against Houston, Stephen F. Austin and Florida International University. The most impressive of the three was probably the Houston win in which running back Tahj Brooks carried the Red Raiders to victory with two touchdowns and 134 yards on the ground.
Since the Mountaineers and Red Raiders have been matching up in Big 12 conference games West Virginia has the overall edge in the series winning six games as opposed to Texas Tech’s four victories. However, the Red Raiders have taken the last two games in 2019 and 2020 and will look to make it three years in a row of Tech wins.
“The hope is you learn from this and the next time you get in this opportunity which we will,” WVU HC Neal Brown said. “Our league there’s going to be a ton, you saw the scores today there’s going to be a ton of games that come down to the end and we’ve got to figure out how to win them.”
Texas Tech is coming off a shortened 2020 season in which the team finished 4-6 overall and 3-6 in Big 12 action. The most recent bowl game appearance that Texas Tech played in was the 2017 Birmingham Bowl in which the Red Raiders fell to South Florida, 38-34.
At the quarterback position, Texas Tech will now be missing starting junior Tyler Shough to a broken collarbone which was suffered in the loss to Texas last weekend. Shough previously played his best game against FIU this season when he tossed four touchdowns and 399 yards to lead his Red Raiders to victory.
With the departure of Shough from the starting role for at least six weeks, Texas Tech will most likely hand the snaps over to senior Henry Colombi. The senior connected with receivers on eight touchdowns for 1,065 yards last season.
For receiving options on offense, Colombi has a number of quality Big 12 targets including junior wide receiver Erik Ezukanma who leads the team with 406 receiving yards this season while senior tight end Travis Koontz has caught four touchdowns on the year to lead Texas Tech. Wide receiver Kaylon Geiger also leads the Red Raiders receiving corps grabbing 232 passing yards and a lone touchdown through four games.
In terms of rushing the ball, Texas Tech is led in that realm by sophomore Tahj Brooks who has pranced into the end zone four times and rushed for 284 yards on the ground. Junior Xavier White has also put the ball into the end zone one time this year and gone for 151 yards on the ground.
The Red Raiders defensive side of the ball is ranked No. 14 this season in defensive touchdowns with a pair of scores through four games. Senior linebacker Colin Schooler leads Texas Tech in total tackles with 29, followed by senior linebacker Riko Jeffers 20 tackles and Monroe’s 19 takedowns. Jeffers and Monroe have also each snatched an interception through four games along with four other Red Raiders.
This will certainly present a challenge for West Virginia’s offense and the team will have to find holes they can target to produce the most scoring possible.
West Virginia and Texas Tech will kick off on Saturday, October 2 at 3:30 pm ET and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
(Top Photo: Bryan Doughtery)