Despite losing two potential starters in defensive end Walter Brady (violation of team rules) and defensive tackle Harold Brantley (academics), Missouri looks to pressure West Virginia with second-team All-SEC defensive end Charles Harris and the rest of their defensive line and linebackers. In 2015, Harris led the SEC with tackles for loss with 18.5, along with tying the team lead with his teammate Walter Brady with seven sacks.
"He's rushed off the edge against some of the best tackles in the country," WVU offensive line coach Ron Crook said. "This guy has played against good, good players. We've played against some good players. I am anxious to see how Yodny (Cajuste) goes out and approaches the game mentally. If he approaches it the right way then I think we will be happy with what we see."
West Virginia sophomore left tackle Yodny Cajuste, one of the Mountaineers' most talented young linemen, comes off a promising freshman year after being out for the last six games of the regular season with an ankle injury before coming back for the Cactus Bowl. He faces arguably the most challenging task at hand by protecting quarterback Skyler Howard and the blindside from Charles Harris.
"That's the strongest part of their defense," Cajuste said. "Every year they have great guys. I'm up for the challenge. It's definitely fun and I'm looking forward to it. It's an opportunity to show everybody how good we are. It's always good to go against the best. We take that (as motivation) and we are ready for it. We're in the Big 12, so we are in a big conference, too.
"They always have great ends and great interior guys. I can't just point out one thing that makes them good. The coaches try to give us a good look everyday, whether we are going against our actual defense or against the scout team."
Cajuste looks to take a big step coming into his sophomore year with West Virginia after helping the offense average 34 points and 479.7 yards per game. Cajuste, just three years removed from being a basketball-first athlete, played 474 snaps last season, including a season-best 98 in the overtime contest with Oklahoma State. Behind him and a talented interior three, West Virginia finished No. 17 nationally in rushing offense, No. 18 in first down offense, No. 23 in total offense and No. 35 in scoring offense.
"Last year was my very first college football game, and now I feel like I have been there, done that and I'm ready to play," Cajuste said. "I feel like we are ready. We have been going at it all camp and those guys have been rotating a lot. I feel like they are comfortable. We are just looking to play, man. It'll all play out. The only thing that matters is the W."
If he wants to make a name for himself not only with West Virginia, but with the Big 12 Conference, Cajuste understands that he needs to perform well against players like Charles Harris and other intimidating pass rushers this season.