The West Virginia University football team will face off against the Texas Tech University Red Raiders on Saturday in Morgantown. If there was ever a team and a coach in need of a victory, it is head coach Dana Holgorsen and his Mountaineers.
Kick-off is slated for noon and the game will be televised on Fox Sports 1. With a week off, which Mountaineer football team will show up on Saturday?
Will it be the team that was shut-out and embarrassed against Maryland? The one that allowed Baylor to score 73 points in another embarrassing blowout loss? Or, will it be the one that gutted out a win over then highly ranked Oklahoma State University?
The two embarrassing losses were on the road and the gutsy win was at home; providing hope for Mountaineer Nation.
Holgorsen has watched his offensive line struggle to control the line of scrimmage and open running lanes for his running-backs, or provide pass protection for his quarterbacks. TTU head coach Kliff Kinsbury has watched his offensive line struggle too, he just watches through a pair of designer shades.
Kingsbury even has his own bobble-head complete with those designer shades and a five o'clock shadow. TTU is riding a six game winning streak and Kingsbury is the former quarterback come home to lead his team as head coach. The coach with the million dollar smile that has Red Raider Nation oohing and awing over every picture taken and every play called.
Once it was Holgorsen and his Air Raid offense that was the toast of the Big-12, now it is Kingsbury.
Strange that two coaches with such a passing acumen may find that it is their offensive line play, defense, and running game that could be the key to a victory on Saturday.
The Mountaineers' average 147.5-yards per game rushing and are ranked 85 for rushing yards. The Red Raiders average 135.2-yards per game and are ranked twelve spots lower. The WVU defense, particularly the front seven, should be able to hold their ground against TTU and force the Red Raiders to become one dimensional on offense.
The Red Raiders average 408.8-yards, and are ranked third in passing yards per game. The Cowboys came to Morgantown with similar numbers and left in defeat. The OSU offensive line could not control the Mountaineer defensive line. The same defensive line that was embarrassed by Baylor almost two weeks ago.
Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson's players have something to prove Saturday.
Both head coaches know each other well and the offenses they run are based on the same principles. If there is an opposing coach that knows Kingsbury it is Holgorsen. Flip the names and the statement is still true, to paraphrase Ron White, they've met. It is Holgorsen's blue collar team against Kingsbury's flash and dash.
The only way Holgorsen and the Mountaineers come out on top Saturday is to be the tougher team. To hit harder, control the line of scrimmage, and harass the Red Raider quarterbacks. A script straight out of a Don Nehlen game plan. Unfortunately, the Mountaineer offense simply cannot match Kingsbury's passing attack score for score.
Worse, Holgorsen's team has not shown the ability to play a smash mouth brand of football either. Perhaps that is the biggest difference in the two teams. Kingsbury's team has an identity and Holgorsen's does not.
Of course, should the Mountaineers somehow find a way to win on Saturday that allusive identity the team has been searching for all year could present itself.
For the fans of Mountaineer football a blue collar team would do just fine.