Given the current state of the Kansas Football program, no one can be blamed if they haven’t paid much attention to other teams around college football. But regardless, there is an opponent to face this weekend, and as fans we should at least be prepared for the onslaught that is coming.
To that end, I reached out to our friends over at The Smoking Musket, the SB Nation site covering the West Virginia Mountaineers. Matt Kirchner was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.
RCT: It seemed that West Virginia was not expected to be relevant nationally this year, as SB Nation's Bill Connelly said this was going to be a rebuilding year, but what did fans of the team expect to see this year?
TSM: WVU has always had weird relationship with advanced stats. They matter, but we always seem to be the exception that proves the rule, for better or for worse.
Fans had higher expectations than most this year, with the Summer of Grier coming off a ten win season. I think most, however, saw the losses on defense and the problems that come with a first year quarterback and expected a small step back from 10-3, gravitating in the 8 or 9 win range, finishing as the best non-Oklahoma school in the Big 12.
RCT: Will Grier was obviously a huge piece that was added to this team, but he isn't the only new piece. What other newcomer has either exceeded expectations or lived up to some really high ones?
TSM: He's not truly a newcomer, as he was with the program two years ago before taking one last shot at QB at the JUCO level, but Lane Kiffin wonderkid turned WR David Sills has been a key cog on offense and one of Grier's favorite targets.
Defensively, Dylan Tonkery has filled in ably at OLB as David Long missed the first couple weeks with an injury and should be key depth when Long comes back, which could be as soon as this week.
RCT: The West Virginia secondary is well-documented as the weak aspect of the defense. But given the KU offensive line issues, it seems more pertinent to ask about the strength of the defensive front. Is Kansas likely to be able to challenge the secondary, or is the WVU defensive line going to be roaming free in the backfield all day long?
TSM: The defensive line was my biggest question mark coming in to the season, but on the whole, has outperformed my expectations.
The secondary, however, has shown a tendency for letting people get behind them once or twice a game even against inferior teams. If Bender has time, he'll have a couple big play opportunities.
RCT: With West Virginia being a 21.5 point favorite, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Kansas pulls off the upset. But if that were to somehow miraculously happen, what would that look like? What disaster would have to befall the Mountaineers?
TSM: Again, it's big plays. WVU has sleepwalked through ECU and Delaware State, so an early road game could get dicey if KU connects early.
I just don't think Kansas can keep up all day.
RCT: Prediction Time! How bad does the game get? How long will it take for WVU to get up by 3 TDs? Which 2nd stringer is Kansas likely to make look like a superstar?
TSM: I predicted a 49-10 WVU win that's likely out of hand at halftime. We'll run twos and threes for most of the third quarter and hibernate.
RCT: Bonus - Megaman or Pac-Man?
TSM: Megaman is severely underrated in the gaming pantheon. Nothing beats killing things and taking their best stuff.
A big thanks to Matt for helping us out today. For more coverage of the game, don’t forget to head over to The Smoking Musket.