West Virginia Football: 7 Keys to Winning the Texas Game
Texas will prove to be the first real road test for the Mountaineers in the 2012 season.
Winning in Austin is never an easy thing to do, especially with the fast, explosive defense the Longhorns have.
Still, it's a very important game for West Virginia as it proves that it is a worthy opponent in the strong Big 12 Conference.
In the only meeting between the two schools, WVU won 7-6 in Austin. That was over 50 years ago, however.
The Mountaineers will need to do certain things to win in a rowdy atmosphere such as Texas.
Here's a look at the keys to winning a pivotal road game in Austin.
Get to the Quarterback
Whether it's David Ash or Case McCoy at quarterback, the Mountaineers must get pressure on them. Texas has a solid football team, but the inexperience and disaster at the quarterback position is still alarming for Longhorn fans.
Last season McCoy threw for 1,034 yards with seven touchdowns and four picks. His completion rating was a bit over 61 percent.
Ash didn't have as strong of a season. He threw for more yardage with 1,079 yards, but his completion rating was almost 57 percent. In addition, he had only four touchdowns and his eight interceptions made life difficult for the Longhorns.
WVU must get some sacks and make Ash or McCoy think a little. If that happens, then the Mountaineers have a strong opportunity to leave Austin with a win.
Don't Sleep on the Running Game
The Longhorns had a mixture of guys who could run the ball last season.
Sophomore Malcolm Brown led the way with 742 yards and five touchdowns.
Joe Bergeron had five touchdowns himself, adding 463 yards on the ground. Both Bergeron and Brown will be tough for WVU to stop, but the Mountaineers have to respect the run game.
The Longhorns have a balanced rushing attack led by the sophomore duo of Brown and Bergeron, but other guys such as five-star freshman running back Johnathan Gray and senior Jeremy Hills can also be productive.
Let the Experience Guide You
While there is reason to be concerned about West Virginia's defense, the Mountaineers have the experience on offense to pull out a win against Texas.
WVU returns 16 starters, including nine on the offensive side of the ball. The entire backfield is back, and there are two stars at the receiver position. A senior Heisman candidate at the quarterback position is always nice to have as well.
The Mountaineers have the firepower to win crucial games in the Big 12 as could be seen in last year's Orange Bowl. While Clemson may not be as competitive as some Big 12 teams, it was still a BCS game and a 70-33 victory.
Is the hype a bit too high? Perhaps, but the Mountaineers have the experience and firepower to win some competitive games this season.
Use Baylor as Preparation
The first home conference game for the Mountaineers is against a potent Baylor team. While Robert Griffin III is not the starting quarterback anymore, Nick Florence is still a solid replacement.
The receivers are dangerous as well with Tevin Reese and Terrance Williams. The West Virginia cornerbacks will have their hands full with those two guys.
WVU will be at home, but Baylor is still more than capable of a mini-upset. The Bears have the firepower to compete with the Mountaineers.
If West Virginia wins this game, the team's confidence level would be at an all-time high going up to Austin.
Try to Make Plays Against Tough Defense
The Longhorns will have one of the best defenses in the country.
The defensive line has two potential All-Americans in Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor.
The secondary will be tough for the Mountaineers as well with nearly everyone returning. WVU will have a tough time finding guys to make plays, but with the experience the Mountaineers have, opportunities will arise.
The defense won't be the main concern for the Longhorns this upcoming season. The offensive situation is a bit more serious, however.
Winning in Austin Would Prove Doubters Wrong
Will 83 percent be wrong again? WVU is used to the doubt in the nation's mind regarding BCS games.
The nation doesn't think highly of the Mountaineers winning the Big 12 Conference, so the Mountaineers will be playing with a chip on their shoulders this season.
Consistency will be most important, but this first tough road game against Texas could prove the critics wrong.
For a team that is 3-0 in BCS games, you would think West Virginia would get a little bit more credit than it does.
There are some reasons to believe that WVU may have a difficult time adjusting to a superior conference, but at the same time, this is one of the best Mountaineer teams in recent times. Some may even go to say that it's the best team since the Pat White days.
Winning in Austin isn't easy. The nation knows this. If WVU were to steal one against Texas, the country might just change the way it thinks about West Virginia.
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