There's no question that the West Virginia Mountaineers pose the biggest threat to Oklahoma's defense that we've seen to date. WVU's average of 39 points scored per game are the fourth most in the Big XII Conference and Clint Trickett's 1,224 passing yards are the most of any quarterback in the conference. While I would think OU's defensive game plan to sharply mirror what we saw against Tulsa, the player on the field will need to be as sharp as ever as a mistake against the Mountaineers could quickly result in points being placed on the scoreboard.
Here's how I would expect Oklahoma to game plan against West Virginia's offense.
Force the Mountaineers to double-team up front - It all starts with Jordan Phillips doing what he does best in the middle of the line. He has to continue to get a good push to allow Oklahoma the opportunity to blow a play up from the front instead of off the edge. From there WVU will be forced to consider using a double-team on Phillips which will result in either Charles Tapper and Chuka Ndulue being left one-on-one. Who wouldn't like those odds?
Stop the run game without extra support - We saw this as a part of the Tulsa game plan. The Mountaineers won't run the ball as much as they'll throw it and what Oklahoma wants them to do is basically waste a down every time Trickett hands the ball off. To do this, not only will Phillips need to do his thing, but middle linebackers Jordan Evans and Dominique Alexander must flow to the ball and meet the runner in the gaps. Oklahoma's linebackers will have to react quickly and get their point of attack to be on or near the line of scrimmage.
Take away the short and intermediate passing attack - We like to use the term, "Dink and Dunk" but Dana Holgorsen prefers the phrase, "moving the ball." Short crossing routes and flare passes are what makes the WVU offense tick. They use those to set up the deep ball and when everything is clicking then they can be downright scary. Everything in Oklahoma's game plan is geared at forcing Trickett to hold the ball just a little bit longer. Obviously this allows more time for the defensive pressure to get there.
Taking away the short and intermediate passing routes will not only result in Trickett holding the ball longer but it will also disrupt the rhythm of the offense. Oklahoma's linebackers and safeties will be put to task on this one as they'll have to know their reads and zones in order to not have a guy sit down in the middle or cut out to the flat.
Body up Kevin White and give over the top support - Kevin White is to West Virginia as Sterling Shepard is to Oklahoma. His 32 catches are eleven more than anyone else on the team and he's certainly their biggest down field threat with an average of 14.4 yards per catch.
Oklahoma won't switch off on him, rather they'll cover him with whichever corner he lines up across from. However, he's not a receiver that you can beat by just putting a body on. You also have to give the defender extra support with a safety and also have enough pressure on the quarterback to cause him to rush the throw.
Getting to Clint Trickett is the primary key for Oklahoma's defense on Saturday night. He's been sacked more than any quarterback in the Big XII and the Mountaineers have yet to face a defensive front like the one Oklahoma is going to bring. If the Sooners can get to Trickett with regularity then they'll be in good shape to win this game.