BearsIllustrated spoke with Jonathan Martin, publisher at BlueGoldNews.com, to get some insight on the West Virginia Mountaineers. The 2nd ranked Bears will host the Mountaineers at 11 am, on Saturday, at McLane Stadium.
1. The QB position is an important one for this offense. How would you rate the player of Skyler Howard through the first part of the season?
Skyler Howard's performance this season has been questionable at best. He seemingly cruised through the first three games of the year but has struggled of late.
Dana Holgorsen has noted, on several occasions, that Howard gets too excited early in games and it affects his performance. The idea has been tossed around that backup quarterback William Crest could see action on Saturday, but that's only likely if Howard continues to struggle.
2. Who are some other players on offense, that Baylor fans should know about leading in to the game Saturday?
West Virginia is thrilled with the performance of junior running back Wendell Smallwood -- and future opponents should take notice. On the season, he's rushed for 589 yards and five touchdowns. He's also versatile out of the backfield, and can slide over to slot receiver if needed.
The Mountaineers also have two young receivers, Shelton Gibson and Jovon Durante. Both are downfield targets who've combined for eight touchdowns.
3. With the unfortunate injury to Karl Joseph, how have things changed in the defensive secondary for the Mountaineers?
West Virginia has been extremely fortunate to have depth on the defensive side of the ball -- and it's showing with the recent injury to Karl Joseph.
His backup, Jarrod Harper, filled in nicely against Oklahoma State last week, recording six tackles and two pass-breakups.
The Mountaineers will use as many as six different defensive backs in effort to keep bodies fresh.
4. Last year, WVU had a great game plan and really slowed the Baylor offense. How do you see the defense approaching the game this year, with the Baylor running attack becoming more potent?
If nothing else, West Virginia has the cliff notes on how to beat Baylor. The best way to limit the potent offense attack of the Bears is to keep them off the field -- and that's exactly what they did.
I expect the Mountaineers to try and sustain long offensive drives and run the football. That, potentially, will keep the Bears limited on offense.
5. What are some things WVU will need to do to win this game, and how do you see this game playing out?
After rushing out to a 3-0 start and breaking the top 25 -- the Mountaineers have struggled of late, losing to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The beauty of college football, though, is anything can happen.
In their last two games West Virginia has turned the ball over multiple times. That cannot happen against Baylor. If the Mountaineers can win the turnover battle they have one of the few defenses that can potentially contain the Bears offense.
It's not going to be easy, though. I expect Baylor to pull away in the second half and send the Mountaineers to their third straight loss.