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West Virginia - Offensive Preview

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Kansas will face West Virginia’s “Air Raid” offense on Saturday. What can we expect?

Justin K. Aller
OFFENSE

The most improved unit in the Big 12 this season very well may be the West Virginia offense. One thing is for certain on Saturday, they will throw, and they will throw a lot. WV throws the ball 54% of the time for 9.3 yards per pass (12th in the nation). What they don’t do well is run the ball (worst rushing attack in the Big 12, 2.8 yards/game, 110th nationally) or take advantage of their scoring opportunities (62.5 redzone scoring percentage, 116th nationally and still double the Jayhawks output).

The Mountaineers are averaging 90 offensive plays per game and ran 108 plays against Maryland a few weeks ago. This prompted Terrapin coach Randy Edsall to complain that "…there's a problem in college football...with that many plays".

The transformation in the WV offense can be directly related to Clint Trickett. The senior QB has taken a giant leap forward learning the system and adjusting to defenses at the line. He is completing 72% of his passes this season (53% last season) and already has more touchdowns in 4 games (9) than in 8 last season (7).

Twelve different players have been targeted in the passing game but none more prolifically than Kevin White. The senior WR has hauled in nearly one-third of all passes thrown to the tune of 15.1 yards/reception and 3 touchdowns and leads all Mountaineers with 633 yards from scrimmage.

WHO TO WATCH

WV’s running backs will feature heavily in the passing game. Particularly, keep an eye on sophomore back Wendell Smallwood as the Mountaineer is averaging 16.1 yards per reception and is a home-run threat in space. Also, look for WV to try and spark their running game early with Smallwood and fellow tailback Rushel Shell seeing plenty of action.

KU’s DEFENSE VS. WV’s OFFENSE

  • Opponent offensive efficiency – 5.4 yards/play before garbage time (270 yards on 50 plays, 324 yards on 60 plays, 378 yards on 70 plays).
  • Opponent turnovers – Force at least two turnovers before garbage time.
  • Opponent redzone efficiency – Under 50% touchdowns on all redzone trips before garbage time.

REVIEW OF TEXAS GOALS

Let's take a look back at the goals from last week's game. The game was over John Harris found the endzone with 3:52 seconds remaining in the 4th.

  • (Opponent offensive efficiency goal, 5.0 yards/play). Actual – 4.7 yards/play. Pass, 3.1 yards per rush and 6.4 yards/pass.
  • (Opponent turnover goal, at least 2). Actual – 1 takeaway. Fail. KU averages 1.3 takeaways per game, 76th in the nation.
  • (Opponent redzone efficiency, under 50% TD's)Actual – 75%. Fail.

I'll check back next week to review the goals for West Virginia and preview Oklahoma State.