1. Spread it to run it? - One of the things that stood out more, in my opinion, in last Saturday's win over Baylor was WVU's ability to run the football -- even running more power plays than you'd imagine an offense like this would run. WVU does a tremendous job spreading defenses the full 53 yards of the field and then finding a way to run "zone kick" out of a broken diamond, for example.
Furthermore, WVU QB Geno Smith will check off to a quick screen or bubble screen at the LOS if he sees that the defense has seven in the box, which puts Texas defense in a tough predicament.
2. 7s not 3s - In other words, the West Virginia defense can bend but not break. Teams MUST put sevens up on the board if they want to stay in the game against WVU's offense. The game's tempo can change on a dime if WVU can score a TD, hold Texas to a 3 and then score another touchdown on a successive drive; it's 14-3 and Texas would have to chase the rest of the way. It's seemingly simple math, but inside the red zone, the Joe DeForest-led defense must tackle better than it has all year and not let the Texas running game to drive it on that defense into the end zone for touchdowns.
3. Chip the edge, get all day to throw - Geno Smith has been slinging it all over Morgantown this season and it's seemingly been easy. But, it's easy at home; the team's first road trip is to one of the most storied locations in college football.
Regardless of where WVU plays, he'll need plenty of time. When he's had time to throw, he picks defenses apart like a heart surgeon. But, Texas has the best exterior pass rush that West Virginia has seen. DEs Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat are a problem for WVU so the WVU RBs must help on those two, chipping on them before heading on into routes to slow them down. But…
1. …On the move - I'm convinced that defensive tackles need not apply when facing West Virginia. Put the interior guys on the bench and put the 3 or 4 best pass rushers on the field no matter the size.
That said, Texas should move its star DE inside to DT as often as the situation dictates. Okafor has played inside before, move him and Jeffcoat inside on occasion to get heat up the middle. Smith hasn't felt any heat this year at all from inside. See how he reacts. Put two speedy OLB at DE and dare WVU to run it more than it throws it.
Now, don't think that because Texas' defense plays small that'll it produce small. The heat from Okafor and Jeffcoat is paramount to a win; it just may need that heat to come from inside.
2. Tackle anything that moves - I made this comment on my show yesterday, God gave you two arms…USE THEM. Religious affiliations aside, the point is that Texas' back six/seven tackled horribly against Oklahoma State. Safety Adrian Phillips hit but didn't wrap and that was a killer. Tackle someone and live to see another down.
There is no more important mantra for the Texas defense this week than that. WVU WRs Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, in particular, will kill you after the catch. Stop the murder.
3. Utilize the full arsenal - I was incredibly impressed with the way Texas co-OC/play caller Bryan Harsin called plays against Oklahoma State last week. He kept OSU guessing all night. He had Texas QB David Ash throw the ball to all levels on the field. He called for some Wildcat. He got the ball to nearly every single running back on the roster. He called power plays. He called speed sweeps. And, most importantly, his offense executed. West Virginia's defense can't handle the full weaponry if Texas deploys it like it did last week.
The win Texas had last week was impressive on a number of different levels, especially offensively, but the defense was a joke. (You want me to be honest, right?) Oklahoma State is legit offensively, but WVU is even better. I think that Texas defense will bounce back and give the ball back to the Longhorns offense. Not so much with turnovers, but with stops on third down.
Baylor couldn't get Smith and the Mountaineers off the field on third down, but Texas MUST. And, for this all too important game in the Big 12 race, it will as the Longhorn offense wins this boat race.
Texas - 45 vs. West Virginia - 31