Photo By Steven Chapman

Choice Cuts: West Virginia Week

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, safety Jah'Shawn Johnson, cornerback Justis Nelson and linebacker Malik Jenkins (pictured above) met with local media following practice on Tuesday. Senior writer Joe Yeager, who was on-hand, breaks down what was discussed.


Practices have been focused. The “pouting” is over and done with. The Red Raiders are excited to play a Top 20 team on Homecoming.

Defensively, Kingsbury expects West Virginia to come at the Red Raiders the same way they did last year, which was quite effective. They will blitz from a variety of angles and will hope to tackle well in space, which they did in 2015 against Tech. The Red Raiders will have to do a better job of making the Mountaineers miss, and overall play better.

My Take: Without Jakeem Grant and DeAndre Washington carrying the mail, making the Mountaineers miss more than last year could be a pretty tall order.

DaLeon Ward does a great job of running the ball, but needs to get up to speed in pass protection. He’s a tough runner, loves to play football and is great on special teams. As Kliff gets more comfortable with Ward being on the field, he will likely get some touches.

My Take: I'm just curious to see what Ward can do. Productivity at running back has declined somewhat from last season, which would seemingly mean there's opportunity for a player such as Ward to make his mark.

Paul Banks had some good plays against K-State, and also some problems that come with not having played in some time. He played with confidence and should get better and better for the rest of the season.

My Take: Paul Banks has the potential to be Tech's best cornerback outside of Justis Nelson. He could really make a difference for the defense.

West Virginia will test how much Tech has improved in handling the deep passing game because the Mountaineers have some fast receivers and they like to throw it downfield. So far the defense has done a “fairly decent” job in this area.

My Take: WVU's Skyler Howard is no Joe Montana, but he will be the best passer Tech has seen so far this season.

West Virginia’s running game has been good because they have a couple of good backs who run tough and finish runs, and an offensive line that shoves people around.

Derrick Willies just did walk-throughs today and his status is “day-to-day.”

K-State’s base defense has bracket coverage of the “number three receiver” [in this case, Jonathan Giles], which means other players have to step up, which for the most part they did against the Wildcats. But yes, Giles did receive extra attention from KSU’s defense.

My Take: Given the gaudy numbers Giles was putting up, it was inevitable that defenses began focusing on him; it's a sign of respect. It will now be up to Giles to take it to the next level, making plays even when the defense zeroes in on him. If he can do that, he will be a truly great receiver. 

The deep passing game is an important and beneficial thing for Tech’s offense, and Devin Lauderdale is becoming a big part of that. Reg Davis is another player who can make those sorts of plays, but so far Tech hasn’t been able to get him the ball. After Lauderdale’s absence, he is beginning to come around and synch up with Pat Mahomes.

Mahomes shoulder is good, better than last week.


Kolin Hill

Coach Kevin Patrick felt like the defensive line played “pretty good” last week. As a unit, they are coming together and making plays.

My Take: I would agree. The defensive line and defense in general, although far from perfect, played well enough for Tech to beat K-State. 

West Virginia’s offense is similar to Tech’s in that they don’t use the tight end much. The offense is more fast-paced than K-State’s.

WVU will run counters and powers, and will try to run downhill against Tech.


Justis Nelson

Skill players are the strength of WVU’s offense. The receivers and running backs are big and fast. They will be a challenge and the defense will have to play their best game.

The defense will emphasize “keeping everything in front of them.”

My Take: Look for soft coverage from the corners. That crash you heard was Jarret Johnson punching his head through a sheetrock wall.

Malik Jenkins

West Virginia’s offense forces you to “make plays in space.” The fact that the defense plays an offense similar to WVU’s every day in practice should help.

My Take: In part, because of the defense's familiarity with this type of offense, I expect Tech's defense to have quite a bit of success against the Mountaineers. 

Every player will try to play up to “their full potential” against West Virginia.

The game against West Virginia will be “very physical.”

Saturday will be Jenkins’ birthday.

My Take: Happy birthday. 


Jah’Shawn Johnson

The lack of turnovers isn’t really frustrating, in part because the defense has tackled better than last year.

Part of the reason team’s haven’t attacked Tech’s defense downfield very much is because they’re trying to just run over them like offenses have been able to do in the past. 

Doesn’t know when Keenon Ward may be coming back.

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