RB Charles Sims (Sr.)
Charles Sims is the leading rusher for a very balanced Mountaineers offense. Sims has carried the ball 144 times this season for 754 yards and five touchdowns. His solid 5.2 yards per carry average puts West Virginia in a lot of good positions on offense when the passing game is taking too much time to get going. The senior tailback is a versatile playmaker who can also catch the ball out of the backfield, racking up 36 receptions for 300 yards and two touchdowns on the year. Sims is a bigger running back which helps him power through defenders when they try to wrap him up. The Longhorns defense has been vicious the last few weeks but Sims will be the guy they need to watch out for this week.
DB Darwin Cook (Sr.)
The Mountaineers defense is ranked No. 82 in the nation this season but Darwin Cook is not the reason for this. The senior safety leads the team in both tackles (65) and interceptions (four) this season, showing his versatility at the last level of the defense. Cook has a nose for the football and has emerged as a star for West Virginia’s defense. The Longhorns offense is on a roll but they can bet that Cook will be around the football often in this matchup so they must do everything possible to minimize his impact. The Texas receivers are feeling good about their performances the last few weeks but look for Cook to do his best to curb their success and make a huge play to put West Virginia in the driver’s seat.
WR Daikel Shorts (Fr.)
With receiver Ronald Carswell suspended indefinitely as of this week, the Mountaineers will look to leading receiver Daikel Shorts to carry much more of the offensive load. Shorts leads West Virginia this season with 37 catches for 430 yards and has caught two touchdowns. Just a freshman, Shorts has shown that he can be a reliable receiver every game out and his confidence has grown each week. He is a smaller receiver that will force the Longhorns to focus on tackling in this matchup. Likely the premier deep threat with Carswell out, Shorts will be targeted on both short yardage and long yardage throws. Texas will need to keep an eye on Shorts in this one.