The Texas season reached a new low last Saturday when the Longhorns suffered a home loss at the hands of Kansas, who had not won a Big 12 road game since 2008. Now, Steve Sarkisian's team has to hit the road to take on West Virginia. The Mountaineers have had a disappointing year but are still fighting for bowl eligibility and will be surely fired up to host Texas for what might be the final game in Morgantown for the Longhorns as members of the Big 12 conference.
The West Virginia offense has struggled the last few weeks, putting up 3 points against Oklahoma State and 17 points against Kansas State. Quarterback Jarret Doege is in his second season as the full time starter and has struggled with turnovers for much of the season (10 interceptions). Doege struggles with accuracy when pushing the ball down the field so he will do the majority of his damage in the short and intermediate passing game. The big wildcard is the return of backup QB Garrett Greene, who missed last weeks game against Kansas State. Greene is used as a changeup and can move the ball with his legs (303 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns on the season). It is widely known how much the Texas defense struggles agains the QB run, so expect to see quite a bit of Greene Saturday afternoon.
RB Leddie Brown has been at West Virginia for a while and continues to be one of the most steady running backs in the conference. They love to throw the ball to him out of the backfield (30 receptions this year). Brown has 751 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. One interesting note is Brown has been relatively quiet throughout conference play, averaging only 69 yards a game, but he gets the benefit of playing a porous Texas run defense this week and will surely carry the ball 20+ times. One of the reasons for Brown's struggles has been the inconsistent offensive line play in front of him. The offensive line is young (2 sophomore starters and a true freshman at RT) and has struggled at times. West Virginia is allowing almost 3 sacks per game.
The Mountaineers do have some solid weapons on the outside. Winston Wright, Sam James and Bryce Ford-Wheaton all have over 30 receptions on the season. Wright is targeted early and often out of the slot and will be someone Texas needs to keep an eye on all game.
West Virginia ranks in the middle of the pack in most Big 12 defensive categories. The player to watch up front is DT Dante Stills. Stills is a future NFL player who is very strong against the run. He will be a lot to handle for the interior of the Texas offensive line. Defensive end Taijh Alston is having a good year as well and ranks second on the team with 5 sacks.
The Mountaineers have a veteran secondary that is led by safety Sean Mahone, who ranks second on the team with 65 tackles. Fellow safety Alonzo Addae was second team All-Big 12 in 2020 and is having a solid year. West Virginia can give up yards in the passing game but does a nice job of not giving up explosive plays over the top and tightening up their defense in the red zone.
It is anyone's guess what the mentality of the Texas team is heading into this game. If Texas is checked out, West Virginia has the athletes on offense to put up 40+ points and run Texas out of the stadium. If Pete Kwiatkowski is able to find a way to get the Texas defensive line to play at their capable level against a suspect West Virginia offensive line, the Longhorns have a chance of slowing down the West Virginia running game and putting the game in the hands of a turnover prone Jarret Doege. Both of these teams are fighting for bowl eligibility and it will likely be clear quickly who wants to be there and who is ready for the offseason.