First Look: West Virginia

Powerful duo, potent offense waiting for Sooners in Morgantown

It’s hard to think about West Virginia and not remember the last time Oklahoma went in to Morgantown.

For those that don’t recall, it was one of the worst defensive performances in school history. The Mountaineers put up 778 yards of total offense, and without a late touchdown, Oklahoma would have – and probably should have – come home as losers.

But Geno Smith is gone and so is Tavon Austin, who had 572 all-purpose yards in that game.

West Virginia’s offense isn’t as potent as it was two years ago, but the Mountaineers have proven through the first three games of the season, that their attack is something for Oklahoma to be worried about in the Big 12 Conference opener.

“We know we’ve got to get seven or six against West Virginia,” Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard said after the Sooners settled for two red-zone field goals in the first quarter against Tennessee. “They put up a lot of points. So, we’re moving on to the next week.”

Smith and Austin, who are both playing in the NFL, might be gone, but this year’s team has its own talented duo.

Senior quarterback Clint Trickett, who has already thrown for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns this season, and wide receiver Kevin White, who might be the best offensive player on the Mountaineers roster, make for quite a tandem.

The two hooked up 13 times for 216 of Trickett’s 511 total passing yards, an amount that helped him earn the Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week award.

“I barely even did anything,” said Trickett, emulating the mantra Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight is trying to take on. “I’m throwing it two yards to those guys, and then, they take it 90 yards and they make me look good – just facilitating those guys that are the ones making the plays and deserve all the credit.”

West Virginia survived last week against Maryland, watching a 28-10 lead evaporate before hitting a game-winning field goal as time expired. Two weeks earlier, the Mountaineers didn’t quite take Alabama to the final whistle, but they sure puckered the Crimson Tide for a bit.

Both games, and especially the pace of the victory against Maryland, will have prepared a much-different West Virginia team than last year’s four-win bunch for the Big 12, which opens for both teams Saturday.

“The game was back and forth with a lot of plays and very up tempo – it’s what the Big12 is going to be about and we all know that,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.

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