When: Saturday, 3:30p, ABC
Line: WVU -6.5
West Virginia Players to Watch:
Geno Smith, QB: 2,497 yards, 18 TD, 5 INT
Dustin Garrison, RB: 494 yards, 6.7 YPC, 5 TD
Tavon Austin, WR: 48 rec, 624 yards, 2 TD, 1 return TD
Stedman Bailey, WR: 41 rec, 764 yards, 6 TD
Rutgers Players to Watch:
Gary Nova, QB: 890 yards, 7 TD, 5 INT
Mohamed Sanu, WR: 65 rec, 683 yards, 6 TD
Khaseem Greene, FS: 66 total tackles, 6 TFL, 1 FF
Justin Francis, DL: 27 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 7 TFL
How does WVU respond from an awful outing? Hopefully with some passion. The Mountaineers were punchless Friday night against Syracuse. They better have their arms up, because Rutgers will do more of the same. Expect another physical game, and if the Mountaineers can't match the intensity, it could be another long day. I imagine that practice this week will be pretty rough.
What defensive unit shows up? The confident group that dismantled Connecticut? Or the soft unit that allowed Syracuse to do whatever they pleased? Jeff Casteel just doesn't have a consistent group this year, which does have some to do with inexperience. The linebacking unit has really been hurt by youth. However, the biggest problem has been the lack of a consistent pass rush, which has broken everything else down. Rutgers' line has struggled a bit this year, so we'll see if WVU can break through. We'll also see if Pat Miller gets replaced at left corner following a few tough outings.
Can Special teams wake back up? The unit looked very good against UConn, but it all came crashing down Friday night. Missed kicks, poor blocking, even worse tackling...it has just been a nightmare for Dana Holgorsen. I don't know if scheme or personnel. All I know is it needs to be changed, because obviously it's not working.
Rutgers hasn't beaten WVU since 1994. Since then, the Knights have only been close a handful of times in the 16 losses. They have to feel pretty good on Saturday. Rutgers comes in with a pretty talented defense, but wil have to play smart offensively. WVU is prone to playmakers, so look for Mohamed Sanu to get a lot of looks, especillay if Pat Miller is on him. The natives are restless for a win over the mighty Mountaineers, so it should be a fun atmosphere on Saturday.