Keys to the Game: vs. No. 24 West Virginia

Wills Layton

Limit Grier’s effectiveness at quarterback 

The Longhorns have done a decent job this season limiting talented quarterbacks. From forcing two interceptions against USC’s Sam Darnold to shutting down Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, the defense has done a masterful job of containing these playmaking quarterbacks.

The next challenge for the Texas defense presents itself in West Virginia redshirt junior quarterback Will Grier, who has thrown for over 300 passing yards per game to go along with 34 touchdowns. For comparison, Longhorn gunslingers sophomore Shane Buechele and freshman Sam Ehlinger have combined for only 13 passing touchdowns this season.

In order to win this game in Morgantown, West Virginia, the Texas defense must continue its impressive play against talented quarterbacks. Last week versus Kansas, the defense collected a total of three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. The Longhorns look to put up similar numbers against Grier this weekend.

Run the ball early

It is no secret that the Texas running attack has been uninspired and underwhelming for the past couple of weeks and was the main issue in the 24-7 loss to TCU in Week 10. When the offense can only muster nine rushing yards, not many points are going to be scored.

The Longhorn roster boasts plenty of talent at the running back position, including freshmen Daniel Young and Toneil Carter and sophomore Kyle Porter. Texas ran for three touchdowns and collected 113 yards on the ground against Kansas last Saturday. Those numbers, while seemingly high, are not that impressive given the level of competition Texas faced.

In order to make the offense more balanced heading into the West Virginia game, Texas’ rushing attack must emerge as an offensive threat on Saturday. If not, expect to see a lot of pressure on the pocket.

Pray that the kicker swap works

In the lone field goal attempt of the night for the Longhorns, junior Joshua Rowland did not kick. Senior Mitchell Becker lined up for a 44-yard kick and came a couple of feet away from drilling it. Alas, the kick sailed wide left. While Becker missed the kick, it looked better than Rowland’s duck hook that burnt orange fans have become familiar with seeing in past games.

The West Virginia game looks to go down to the wire, and the Longhorns are only one game away from being bowl eligible in head coach Tom Herman’s first season at Texas. If the game comes down to a single kick, hope that Becker has what it takes.