Texas took one on the chin in Lubbock this past Saturday as they fell to Texas Tech, 37-34 in overtime. Now the Longhorns must regroup as they prepare to welcome West Virginia to Austin. The Mountaineers are 2-2 on the season with wins over Towson and Virginia to go along with losses to Pitt and Kansas.
JT Daniels will be making his second start at DKR on Saturday. Daniels started for USC back in 2018 when the Trojans traveled to Austin. The Longhorns defeated USC, 37-14. Daniels transferred to West Virginia after spending last season as a backup at Georgia. Despite a strange journey, he still possesses very good arm talent and is having a good start to the season (956 yards and 7 touchdowns). Luckily for Texas, Daniels will be the first QB they face this year who is not a true dual threat. Daniels has -26 yards rushing through 4 games.
Bryce Ford-Wheaton is the primary receiving threat for the Mountaineers and he leads the team in catches (27) and yards (319). Ford-Wheaton stands 6'3 and is a primary redzone target for Daniels. Fellow outside receiver Kaden Prather stands 6'4 and has 20 catches on the season for 220 yards. Redshirt senior Sam James, who has seemingly been at West Virginia forever, operates out of the slot and has 13 receptions for 219 yards.
Freshman running back CJ Donaldson has been one of the biggest surprises in the Big 12 so far. Donaldson, who is a true freshman, arrived on campus as a tight end but is now the best RB on the roster. He is averaging over 7 yards a carry and already has 6 touchdowns on the season. Redshirt junior Tony Mathis will receive carries as well.
The West Virginia offensive line is a solid group. Center Zach Frazier and RT Doug Nester have a lot of experience and anchor the line. The Mountaineers have only allowed 5 sacks in 4 games.
For the second straight week, Texas will face a defensive front that is experienced and very active. Nose tackle Jordan Jefferson is a very good player and when paired with defensive tackle Dante Stills (yes, he's still at WVU), the Mountaineers could give Texas some problems up front. JUCO transfer LB Lee Kpogba leads the team in tackles with 24.
In the backend, West Virginia is breaking in a lot of new faces. At corner they have James Madison transfer Wesley McCormick and Colorado State transfer Rashad Ajayi. True freshman Jacolby Spells is also seeing time at corner and has played well the last few games. At safety, Murray State transfer Marcis Floyd leads the team in pass breakups with 3 and is second on the team in tackles with 19. The Mountaineers have been vulnerable to some big plays through the air.
West Virginia is a very similar team to Texas Tech. The biggest difference is JT Daniels is likely better than Donovan Smith and the West Virginia secondary might not be at the level of what the Red Raiders showed last week.
For Texas, this game is all about fixing the issues that plagued them in Lubbock. The Longhorns have to get off the field on money downs (3rd and 4th down) and sustain drives on offense. If Texas can't come out with the focus and intensity necessary to beat a pretty average West Virginia at home, it does not bode well for the rest of the season.