At his weekly press luncheon, West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen told the gathered media he believes his Mountaineers will have their hands full Saturday when they host the Oklahoma Sooners.
“Oklahoma is going to be a tremendous challenge,” said Holgorsen. “They are a very storied program that is extremely well coached. Bob (Stoops) has been there for 14 years and won many championships. They have great players, and they develop them well, they recruit well, it is a very structured program. We are talking about a place that has won seven national championships and seven Big 12 Championships so they are used to winning.”
The Moutaineers are trying to end a four game losing streak. It’s not so much a matter of scoring points for West Virginia, as it is the amount of points they are giving up to opponents. And the Mountaineers expect to face another explosive offense on Saturday when the Sooners visit Morgantown for the first time.
“Everything starts with their quarterback, Landry Jones, it seems like he has been there for six years,” said Holgorsen. “I remember him in high school, and he came out of New Mexico. He came to our camp, and he is very talented, big kid with a great arm and is a winner.
“Then they put in the “Bell-dozer,” (Blake Bell). That is their backup who poses different problems. He is obviously a runner and will do wild-cat stuff with them.
“This is probably one of the most talented groups of receivers we have faced all year and possibly in the country. Kenny Stills has been there for a while and is good. They hit two home runs on two transfers. The (Justin) Brown kid from Penn State, and the (Jalen) Saunders kid from Fresno are special. They have tremendous depth and some capable running backs. We will have just as much of a challenge on offense.”
The strength of West Virginia’s No. 18 offense lies in its passing game. The Mountaineers rank fifth in the country with an average of 347.6 passing yards per game. Geno Smith ranks third in the country in passing yards per game (337.8) and sixth in total offense (347.1). But this week, it could be the Sooner defense that gives West Virginia the most trouble. The Mountaineers have not faced a man-to-man defense of this caliber so far this season.
“They have always been known for their defense,” said Holgorsen. “His brother, Mike (Stoops), is back with them after being a head coach at Arizona for a while, but you can tell that it has made a difference. It has made a difference from a discipline, effort and scheme standpoint. They play with tremendous effort. They are very sound, and they are very physical. They are very talented. All those things exist with their defense.
“They are very talented in the back end. There is going to be one-on-one matchups everywhere. Not from just a coverage standpoint, from an upfront standpoint. They are going to be one-on-one matchups everywhere, and they are going take pride in the fact that they are going to win those one-on-one matchups. They have got two great safeties that tackle well. They lead their team in tackles.”
The Sooners and Moutaineers will kick off at 6:00 p.m. cst in Morgantown.