After beating No. 15 Virginia Tech, the West Virginia football team will open conference play against No. 4 Oklahoma on the road, as they travel to Norman, to face the Sooners on Saturday night.
West Virginia (2-1) comes into this game after defeating a Virginia Tech team at home last weekend. The Mountaineers were able to hand the Hokies their first loss of the season in large part due to West Virginia’s ability to run the ball.
Senior running back Leddie Brown rushed 19 times, for 161 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run on West Virginia’s second play from scrimmage. Included in the run game is quarterback Garrett Greene. Last week, Greene rushed four times, for 28 yards, while rotating with Jarret Doege.
Doege will also be a big storyline if West Virginia wants to have a chance at winning this game. Doege’s decision making and feel for the game has been criticized by many this year. Last week, Doege threw for 193 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Although he looked good at times, the interception came at the worst possible moment in the game, and almost lost the game for the Mountaineers.
Despite both quarterbacks having vastly different play styles, offensive coordinator Gerad Parker feels playing both Greene and Doege can play to West Virginia’s advantage when other teams have to prepare for their offense.
“We’re doing what some defenses do when they become multiple,” Parker said. “Now [defenses] are having to spend some time on some things too. I think there is great merit in it.”
For the defense, West Virginia will have their hands full with Oklahoma’s potent offense. Oklahoma is led by quarterback Spencer Rattler. This season, Rattler has thrown for 761 yards and throwing seven touchdowns in three games this season.
West Virginia knows they will have to be prepared for Rattler’s ability to throw the ball as well as his ability to create plays and be versatile.
Head coach Neal Brown knows Rattler’s skillset and is prepared for what Rattler can do to a defense.
“The thing about Rattler is his arm talent is so unique. He can move, he extends plays, they can run him if they want to run him,” Brown said. “He has one of the strongest arms and quickest releases that I’ve seen.”
Defensively, West Virginia knows they will have to be able to step up to the challenge.
“Oklahoma always brings a challenge not just for us, but for everyone in the country,” senior LB Josh Chandler-Semedo said.
Chandler-Semedo added what makes Oklahoma’s offense special is the way they are able to disguise simple plays, that can then trick the defense.
“They pretty much run the same plays that everyone else in the country runs, but they just make it look ridiculous,” Chandler-Semedo said. “They could run the same configuration we would just outside of a different formation, the running backs are in a different spot, the recievers are in a different spot, but they’re the same routes.”
West Virginia will be led by Brown as well as wide receiver Winston Wright. Wright has been very impactful on kickoff returns this season for the Mountaineers, and Brown has been a steady workforce in the backfield.
On the opposite side of the ball, West Virginia will look to players such as reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week Jared Bartlett, as well as continued contributions from Akheem Mesidor.
The Mountaineers and Sooners will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. from Norman, Oklahoma, with the game set to be televised on ABC.
Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography