The West Virginia University Mountaineers have jumped back into the Top 20 following the loss to LSU and a huge win over Bowling Green State.
The 16th-ranked Mountaineers will finally begin conference play on Saturday as they welcome the Huskies of the University of Connecticut to Morgantown.
This will be WVU’s first intra-league test and Paul Pasqualoni’s first game against the Mountaineers since he left Syracuse in 2004.
As with every game, there are things that will play key roles for both teams.
What adjustments need to be made, what players will get most of the playing time and what the other team will do?
Here are five “keys to the game,” the teams will consider—going into Saturday’s game.
Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney are proven leaders up the field.
However, Dana Holgorsen has quarterback Geno Smith keeping an eye on Ryan Nehlen and Brad Starks for those throws to the back of the end zone.
The Huskies must not allow any of these guys to get in front of them, especially in the middle of the field.
During the Mountaineers’ last two games, they finally began to make an impact while running the ball.
Andrew Buie and Vernard Roberts seemed to be the go-to guys, but Dustin Garrison showed us—during last week’s game—that he can give them a run for their money when it comes to getting the ball and getting the yards. Garrison will get most of the carries.
However, he must hold on to the ball and make the UConn defense chase him a long way if he wants to be the dominate back.
I will simply quote myself:
“West Virginia special teams have yet to show that they are special. From making field goals to making tackles—the special teams have a long way to go in order to make their marks. WVU must concentrate on the play of the special teams if it expects to continue to win."
The guys up front need to continue to do a good job guarding Geno Smith as he looks for an open receiver.
They have done quite well the last two games.
If the O-line continues to mature for the Mountaineers, expect to see a season-scoring record for WVU.
West Virginia must keep the bleachers hopping.
Holgorsen and his heroes know that if the Mountaineer Faithful get upset, it may be a long night.
The fans of the old gold and blue will cheer on the Mountaineers until the cows come home.
However, if the team can’t give them a reason to roar—it might as well chalk up a loss.
WVU must keep the fans going on offense and defense if they are expected to play a role.