When: Saturday, 12p, ESPNU
Line: Maryland -1
WVU Players to Watch:
Geno Smith, QB: 620 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT
Tavon Austin, WR: 9 rec, 114 yards, 1 TD, 1 return TD
Ivan McCartney, WR: 9 rec, 110 yards, 2 TD
Bruce Irvin, DE: 6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack
Maryland Players to Watch:
Danny O'Brien, QB: 348 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Davin Meggett, RB: 126 total yards
Cameron Chism, DB: 6 total tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF
Can the defense take the next step? Sure, the group hasn't allowed a touchdown in two games, but they only have one sack and no takeaways. While the Mountaineers have kept teams out of the end zone, they are short on big plays. The pass rush needs to get better, especially when they start playing better offenses. The secondary will get strained if Burce Irvin and company can't get to the quarterback. WVU also needs to start taking some risks. This may be a case of Jeff Casteel not having enough faith in his young players at this time, but at some point this defense needs to start creating.
What will the WVU offense look like in the first half? Maryland won't let them take a half off. The Mountaineers will put a lot of pressure on their defense if they fail to show up. The Mountaineers are also too one dimensional. The running game needs to improve as soon as possible for the system to work well. It will be interesting to see Dana Holgrosen's playcalling in the first quarter. Will he try to open it up right off, or go more conservatively to try to get his team in rhythm.
First road game in 2011 for the Mountaineers. It's a road game against a non-conference opponent that wears funny uniforms. However, it's a team that can put some points on the board. WVU will have to deal with a hostile crowd, while still trying to get comfortable.
Thinking about the LSU game yet? I hope the team isn't. If they are, then forget about the possibility of ESPN coming next week. Nobody will care unless both WVU and LSU roll in undefeated. Maryland will walk to a win if the Mountaineers are looking ahead.