On its brief two game winning streak, West Virginia’s offense has come to life. If they want to continue that win streak, they will have to defeat a talented Oklahoma State defense.
Last week, in West Virginia’s 38-31 defeat of Iowa State, the Mountaineers had 492 yards of offense, while scoring five touchdowns, and converting 9-of-15 third downs.
This type of performance, however, will be hard to come by against Oklahoma State this week. The Cowboys ranks first in the Big 12 in opponents points per game (18.0), first in rushing defense (94.9 yards per game), and second in passing defense (200.1 yards per game). They are putting up these numbers, while also having forced seven interceptions, and recorded 22 sacks on the year.
West Virginia head coach Neal Brown knows this unit is an experienced and talented unit.
“Defense they’ve been lights out. They’re one of the top teams in the entire country defensively,” Brown said. “It’s nine seniors and two juniors that start and those guys have played a ton of football over there.”
Offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said the Oklahoma State defense is special because the way they act as a unit.
“[An] attacking mentality, versatile, multiple in what they do in coverage and front,” Parker said on what makes their defense unique.
The Mountaineer offense will also be having to attack this Cowboy defense with a new weapon. It was announced Monday, tight end Mike O’Laughlin would be out for the rest of the season. T.J. Banks will now have a prominent role in this offense, and last weekend showed what he could do.
Banks finished with 34 yards on three receptions, and Parker thinks that is just the beginning for him.
“He did a great job catching the football, finishing runs vertically and protecting the football the right way. It was really good to see him break some tackles and play physical with the ball in his hand,” Parker said. “In the run game he did a great job keeping his feet in the ground with hat placement, ball get off, and really protected his gap. I think he did both those phases well.”
As for the Mountaineer defense, they will have to deal with running back Jaylen Warren. Warren has rushed for 850 yards and six touchdowns this season. He is another top tier running back this Mountaineer defense will have to prepare for, and they know they will be upon for yet another challenge.
Defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley is not only impressed with Warren, but the group of running backs West Virginia has faced in the recent weeks, and will continue to face heading towards the end of the season.
“This run of running backs, I don’t see [many] more talented running backs than the run of guys we’ve seen,” Lesley said. “These guys are the same mold, same type of backs. Just as good, just as explosive, just as powerful.”
West Virginia will look to beat Oklahoma State for the first time since 2014, when the Mountaineers won 34-10. West Virginia and Oklahoma State are set to kickoff at 3:30 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium, and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Photo by Bryan Dougherty, Blue Gold Sports