HD GameDay: Huge Weekend for Longhorns

Here's your one-stop shop for everything you need to know heading into Texas' game with West Virginia on Saturday at Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

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As well as West Virginia has played this season in winning 6 games and playing Alabama, Oklahoma and TCU respectably, Oklahoma State and TCU both showed if you can get a pass rush with four and play some zone coverage over the top of WVU's receivers, you can slow down WRs Kevin White and Mario Alford.

Texas, which needs victories in two of its last three games to reach a bowl, has the ability to get a rush with four, even though the Longhorns haven't been consistent with it.

This is senior DE Ced Reed's moment. If there was ever a game in which Texas needed Reed to really collapse the pocket and get pressure on the QB, it's this one.

Otherwise, WVU QB Clint Trickett will get into a rhythm and pick the Texas D apart as he has so many other teams this year.

Which Texas offense ... and which Tyrone Swoopes will show up? The last time UT played at home, Swoopes was really good vs. Iowa State.

I think it's time for Texas to go up-tempo on one of its first two drives of the game. Quit worrying about going three-and-out and not giving your defense enough rest. [Chip Brown]

Last Time These Two Faced Each Other

It was a wild one in Morgantown that ended with Case McCoy throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Alex De La Torre in overtime, which Texas held on to win 47-40.

Steve Edmond twice prevented WVU from tying the game in overtime – first tipping a pass in the end zone on third down and then intercepting Paul Millard on fourth down in the end zone to end the game.

Texas’ defense forced five turnovers, six sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss.

Five WVU Players to Watch

QB Clint Trickett – The Florida State transfer is fourth nationally in passing yards with 2,925 while completing 67.5 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns. But he does have seven interceptions and has trouble holding on to the ball while under pressure or being hit. Can Texas take advantage?

WR Kevin White – At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, White is a big-bodied receiver that can make a catch in double-coverage and also has the breakaway speed to wrack up yards after the catch. He has 75 receptions for 1,075 yards and eight TDs. He opened the season with a school-record seven straight 100-yard receiving games. But he’s coming off his worst game of the season against TCU when he had just three catches for 28 yards.

WR Mario Alford – The senior receiver is not only one of Trickett’s favorite targets but he’s as dangerous a return man as there is in the Big 12. He’s No. 8 nationally and No. 4 in the Big 12 with a 30.8-yard kick return average. He’s returned two kicks for TDs this season, including a 100-yard return against Alabama. As a WR he has 48 catches for 679 yards and 7 TDs.

S Karl Joseph – Texas WRs are going to have to keep their heads on a swivel on Saturday with Joseph roaming the back end of WVU’s defense. He’s one of the hardest hitting safeties in the country who has started all 34 games of his career. He had 18 tackles against Alabama, 13 against TCU, and forced a fumble vs. OU and TCU.

WVU’s OL – The Mountaineers have given up 21 sacks this season. Only Oklahoma State (24) has given up more in the Big 12.

Five Keys to the Game

1. It's clear Swoopes prefers going up-tempo, so do it and bet on the fact that he'll get into a rhythm and start moving the ball some time before the third quarter. Any other approach is a coaching-not-to-lose mentality to me. And that mentality needs to go away.

2. It's clear that Texas needs a lead blocker through the hole - whether it's isolation or counter plays in the running game. That's what worked vs. UCLA and again vs. Texas Tech. Don't go away from it now.

In fact, start off the game running the isolation and power stuff up-tempo the way Texas was running its offense in the second half of the Texas Tech game last week.

3. Where is the screen passing game? Johnathan Gray is a lethal receiver who needs to get the ball in space, so break that out this week against a WVU defense that likes to blitz.

The screen passing game is a good blitz-beater.

4. WVU turns the ball over. The Mountaineers are minus-12 in turnover margin and are 123rd of 125 FBS schools in fumbles lost (13). Texas needs to make WVU pay for any such mistakes by converting turnovers into points.

5. The front four has to be a beast for Texas. That's you, Ced Reed, Hassan Ridgeway, Malcom Brown and Caleb Bluiett. If Texas gets pressure with four, then WVU's offense will really struggle, and the Longhorns will be in this game in the fourth quarter with a chance to win it.

HD Predictions


Texas has the advantage of seeing how Oklahoma State and TCU played West Virginia and limited 1000-yard WR Kevin White to 3 catches in each game (zone coverage with good front-four pressure) and how Baylor was not able to neutralize WVU's offense (played quarters-match coverage and committed 8 pass interference penalties).

Something tells me Texas is going to have a really good day on defense, maybe even collect a couple of turnovers. WVU is turnover prone (if you read my Kiss Of Death column this week ... as you should EVERY week!)

The bazillion-dollar question is how many steps forward or back Tyrone Swoopes takes this week?

If it's the Iowa State version of Swoopes, Texas will win the game. If it's the K-State version of Swoopes, Texas will lose the game. As Charlie Strong says, Texas goes as a Swoopes goes.

Everything in my head says West Virginia wins the game, because we get another clunker version of Swoopes.

But there's something nagging at me, saying Swoopes, the running game (start the game running that isolation and power stuff up-tempo instead of waiting until the second half); maybe even a screen passing game (where the hell has that been all year?); and the deep passing game of UT just might be on this weekend.

Texas 31, West Virginia 28



Clint Trickett trusts his receivers as much as any quarterback in the Big 12. He'll throw it up in double coverage without blinking an eye.

I'm sure Texas will shade a safety over to help who I presume will be Duke Thomas covering Kevin White, but he has to make Trickett pay for taking these chances.

Trickett is prone to turn the ball over. In fact, WVU as a whole is. The Mountaineers are minus-12 in turnover margin and are 123rd of 125 FBS schools in fumbles lost (13). Charlie Strong has stressed to his defense that they've got to create more turnovers, and Texas will have chances on Saturday. But can UT take advantage?

I think the Longhorns will pick off Trickett at least once and the defense will get enough pressure on him that Texas will limit WVU's offense enough to avoid a high-scoring shootout.

I believe UT's offensive line will take another step forward and Texas' RBs will rush for at least 150 and two scores.

Look for the Swoopes-to-Harris connection to outshine that of Trickett-to-White, and look for UT to put together one of its better third quarters of the season, which will be the difference in this game.

Texas will get one step closer to a bowl game and give all the recruits in town something positive to take home with them.

Texas 31, WVU 24



Texas tries to get back to .500 on Saturday as they host the West Virginia Moutaineers. West Virginia checks in at 6-3 on the year while the Longhorns sit at 4-5 under new head coach Charlie Strong. West Virginia has three losses on the year all to top ten ranked teams. Clint Trickett is coming off one of his worst games of the season as he was held to under 200 yards passing with two interceptions.

The Texas defense ranks 9th allowing only 177 yards per game. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford will dial up the pressure on Saturday forcing Trickett outside the pocket and not allowing him to get comfortable.

This game has been a very high scoring affair the last two seasons. Two years ago West Virginia upset Texas 48-45 while Texas returned the favor last season 47-40 in overtime. Look for the home team to reverse the trend as Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray will be too much for the West Virginia defense to handle as each player goes over 100-yards on the day combining for four rushing touchdowns.

Texas 42, West Virginia 24



Texas needs this game – not only to keep its bowl hopes alive but for recruiting.

The Longhorns have yet to put together a complete game this season. What a time it would be to do exactly that.

I don’t expect it to be a perfect game but I do think Texas will come out hungry and desperate as a team with five losses should.

The Longhorns have the talent to beat West Virginia this weekend but will they?

I’ve gone out on a limb a few times this season by predicting Texas to win games it shouldn’t. At this point in the season, you would think I would’ve learned not to pick the Longhorns in games like this but nonetheless I’m picking Texas to win this game and here’s why:

The defense is going to play at its normal standard. I expect the front seven to give the Mountaineers’ quarterback Clint Trickett trouble all day. Maybe we’ll see a Ced Reed sighting on Saturday. I expect a few turnovers – Diggs, Thomas or maybe even Thompson, now that he can see, will get an interception.

Swoopes, there it is? I hope he’s there because Texas needs him to have a great game against West Virginia. I expect him to have a solid game with around 255 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, 50 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. As for the run game, I think it won’t be nearly as effective as it was against the Red Raiders but running backs Malcolm Brown and Jonathan Gray will be efficient. Brown and Gray will run for a combined 175.

And now for the x-factor – special teams. The special teams has to be perfect Saturday if the Longhorns want to win. Rose will have to make all of his field goals, Russ can’t afford to shank a punt, the kick/punt coverage teams will have to prevent big returns and the kick/punt return game has to provide a spark.

It’s time for Charlie Strong to get his first signature win as the head coach at Texas.

Prediction: Texas 27 West Virginia 24

HD Reads

Know Your Foe: WVU.

Kiss of Death.

21 Thoughts/Notes from Monday’s Presser.

UT Players’ Recruiting Sales Pitch.

Tuesday Dimes with Shawn Watson.

Vance Rants.

Five Questions: Texas.

HD Only: Big Recruiting Weekend for Horns.

Texas Braces for Big Recruiting Weekend.


Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights


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