I said earlier in the week that I believe this is the best West Virginia team that Oklahoma has faced since that fateful January night out in Tempe following the 2007 season. While there are many Sooner fans out there who are approaching this game with some skepticism towards the Mountaineers, I have to say that I believe that they are as advertised. Sure their schedule isn't enough to force you to take a double-look or anything but they've dominated it and that's all you can ask.
We should have a great ballgame on our hands tomorrow morning and, keeping with the game week tradition, we reached out to the guys over at The Smoking Musket for a little more info on the Mountaineers.
CCM: I think the biggest thing that stands out to me about WVU, on the offensive side of the ball, is that they are running more than they're passing. What gives?
TSM: Honestly, Holgo has to be the least Leachy Leach disciple out there. He's always made it a goal to try to establish the run and he finally has the backfield depth to pull it off.
Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell aren't dazzling runners, but they're both averaging more than 5 yards per carry, forcing teams to pack the box really opens up the passing game.
CCM: People look at WVU leading the nation in scoring defense and say, "but they haven't played anyone yet!" How would you respond to that?
TSM: It's not the sexiest noncon slate, admittedly. The biggest thing I point to is that we absolutely rocked a solid Georgia Southern team that is killing everyone since and always gives anyone in front of them a hard time. Maryland is a dumpster fire, but any time you can do that to a rival looking for revenge, it's good.
You can only play the guys in front of you, I suppose.
CCM: With all the positives surrounding the Mountaineer defense, opponents are still averaging 4 yards per carry. Is this possibly something that Oklahoma could exploit?
TSM: Yeah, it's our Achilles heel and the key to beating this team. Our offense thrives on momentum so keeping it off the field mitigates that risk. No one has been able to truly exploit it thus far, but it is a weakness and the Perine/Mixon duo scares me.
CCM: There are a lot of comparisons being drawn between WVU quarterback Skyler Howard and OU quarterback Baker Mayfield. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the Mountaineer signal caller?
TSM: Skyler does a very good job of taking care of the ball. He has one turnover dating back through last year. Beyond that, his running skills open up a lot that we haven't seen in Holgo's offense yet. Having to account for all of those receivers really opens up lanes.
In terms of weaknesses, he has a bit of a problem with overthrows. We think he gets too hyped up early because it's always more of a problem in the first half as opposed to later on in the game.
CCM: Prediction time, tell us how you see it all shaking out on Saturday morning.
TSM: You guys aren't going to like this, but I have to be honest with it. I think WVU makes a statement in Norman. I think Gibson and Durante can make a lot of big plays early and if we get a quick big lead , our defense will hold a hell of a lot better than Tulsa.
The key is getting that early lead, and if we don't this will be a fight that comes down to the end.
You can read the other side of the Q&A, where I answer questions for TSM, right here.