Players to Watch: West Virginia

Peter Sblendorio

Quarterback Clint Trickett

Trickett has arguably been the Big 12’s best quarterback this season, leading the conference with 2,925 passing yards and a 151.9 passer efficiency rating. He’s already passed for a career-high 18 touchdowns on the year, and his 67.5 percent completion rate ranks eighth in the nation among FBS quarterbacks. Consistency has been key for Trickett, as he’s thrown at least one touchdown pass in every game this season and has passed for at least 300 yards seven different times. Trickett struggled in less-than-ideal weather last week against TCU, but he has turned in an impressive senior campaign overall. Texas has done a good job limiting some of the Big 12’s best passing attacks, but Trickett presents what might be its biggest challenge so far.

Wide receiver Kevin White

Coming off an impressive junior season in 2013, White has emerged as one of college football’s top playmakers. Through nine games, the senior ranks third in the nation in receptions and receiving yards with 75 and 1,075, respectively, and he’s tied for eighth with eight touchdown grabs. White recorded at least 100 receiving yards in each of his first seven games this season, and he’s already hauled in double-digit receptions on four occasions. At 6 feet 3 inches and 210 pounds, he has the size and skill set of a bona fide No. 1 receiver, and he’s been just that this season. The Longhorns will be hard-pressed to slow down this matchup nightmare.

Wide receiver Mario Alford

Although White has overshadowed him at times this season, Alford is in the midst of an impressive season of his own. The senior ranks second on the team with 48 receptions, 679 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, and he’s tallied at least five catches in five games this season. Alford has been playing well of late, hauling in a touchdown in three consecutive games. At 5 feet 9 inches and 177 pounds, he doesn’t have nearly the size advantage that White possesses, but that hasn’t stopped him from recording three 100-yard receiving efforts through nine games. With the defense focusing so much on White, Alford could be in for a big day against the Longhorns.

Running back Rushel Shell

Shell joins Wendell Smallwood, fellow sophomore running back, to create a dynamic backfield combination for the Mountaineers. Each back has rushed for more than 530 yards on over 100 carries thus far, but Shell has emerged as the more effective player because of his ability to find the end zone. Shell leads West Virgina with six rushing touchdowns, while Smallwood only has one. Even though Shell has seen a drop in carries over the last two weeks, he makes for a solid goal-line option because of his stout 5-foot-10-inch, 215-pound frame.