1. How much, if any, did last week's loss to TCU take the wind out of the sails of this WVU program, and do you expect there to be any hangover effect from that defeat?
It did hurt momentum somewhat, but West Virginia has been very resilient so far this year, unlike its 2013 edition. The team has bounced back from bad stretches of play to perform very well and pull out wins (Maryland and Texas Tech are prime examples). This team appears to have the maturity and leadership necessary to weather setbacks, so it would be a surprise if the TCU loss affected it against Texas.
2. The Horned Frogs held Kevin White to just three catches for 28 yards, one of the few times this season he hasn't looked like an All-American. How did TCU do it and what adjustments do you expect WVU to make to get White back on track?
TCU sold out to cover White, It rolled safeties from both sides of the field at time to bracket him and provide different looks as to where the coverage came from, and also flared linebackers out to help against slants. In doing so, it left run defense and the pass rush primarily to its front four, and was successful in holding down WVU's running game with just those defenders.
West Virginia must do one of two things to combat these tactics. First, if UT has just five or six in the box, it must be able to run the football. Second, it might look at some different tactics to use White to draw defenders and open the field for other receivers. If a defense wants to take a player oout of the game, it usually can, but that opens other areas that can be exploited. WVU will have to do that in order to get the win in Austin.
3. Turnovers have, at times, plagued the Mountaineers. They had five last week. What's happening that's led to 20 turnovers this season and do you expect that to be fixed this weekend against a UT defense that, while good, doesn't force a ton of turnovers?
Ball security and fumbles have been the key issue. All of the backs have coughed it up at times, and QB Clint Trickett has issues in safeguarding the ball when he is hit. That will be an area of emphasis during drills, but it's tough for your QB to practice ball security without getting hit, which no one allows during practice.
4. Everyone knows about the firepower on offense that WVU possesses but what about the Mountaineers' defense? Who are the names to know on that side of the ball?
Safeties Karl Joseph and K.J. Dillon are big hitters who play hybrid safety/linebacker positions in West Virginia's 3-3-5 defense, and are linchpins to the success of the scheme. They can rush the passer, take on run blockers and cover downfield, and if they play well WVU has a chance to win. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is an overlooked player, mostly because he's not flashy. He's an old-school performer who simply gets to the ball and makes plays. He's not the fastest guy on the field, but his reaction time, knowledge of the game and fundamentals make him West Virginia's best overall defender.
5. What's been the overall vibe that you've gotten as to how happy West Virginia and its passionate fan base is since joining the Big 12?
In terms of being in the Big 12, the vast majority of the fans are happy. Travel to road games is the one negative, and that used to be a big part of West Virginia's reputation. The distances involved are daunting, although the trips to Oklahoma and Texas figure to attract a decent number of attendees each year.
Other than that, it's all positive. The schedule, competition, bowl lineup, payouts and national exposure all everything WVU could ask for. Had it not gotten the invite, the program would have been in danger of a major letdown.
*****Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights
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