West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Kansas Jayhawks Preview

By Mike Atkinson

The West Virginia Mountaineers will be in Morgantown for their final regular season game against the Kansas Jayhawks.

Before I dive into my preview for this game, I’d like to take a quick look back at what the 2012 WVU football season has brought us.

We saw the air raid in full effect early in the season, quarterback Geno Smith lead the Heisman race for most of the early season, records shattered, national championship hype, video game numbers, a big win against the number 11 team in the land and Tavon Austin show he is more than just a wide receiver.

Unfortunately, we also saw poor defense, coaches rumored on the hot seat, a colossal collapse, a five game losing streak, three home losses and a fan base do everything except give up on its head coach.

Now, the team has a final conference game against Kansas.

Kansas is 1-10 (0-8 in Big XII play). They enter with the 93rd offense in yards per game, and the 115th offense in points per game.

Defensively, Kansas is 106th in opposing yards allowed per game with 466.

Now it’s worth pointing out in WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen’s weekly press conference, he talked up the coaching staff at Kansas. Here’s what he said according to West Virginia Illustrated:

“They’re going to coach them up. We’re going to be at a major schematic disadvantage going against their coaches. They’ve got coaches with a tremendous pedigree that have coached everybody in the world and coached for decades and decades.”

Now when I first heard this, my initial reaction was that Holgorsen was serious. I took it to mean he is legitimately worried about Kansas this weekend. A friend of mine thought Holgorsen was slowly beginning to express his displeasure with WVU’s coaches by doing this.

Then I realized he was being sarcastic.

According to The Charleston Gazette, Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis said this in response to Holgorsen’s comments, referring to Tavon Austin:

“Just take two plays from last week. Take the punt return and the little pass in the flat on the left side where everyone has angles on him and he just outruns everyone,” Weis said. “That’s not coaching now. I’m sure everyone would like to sit there and stand in line and take credit for that, but that’s just unusual talent and unusual speed.”

It looks to me like there’s a little bit of coach trash talk going on here. Obviously Weis is referring to Holgorsen’s previous sarcastic comments about the Kansas coaches. This should add an interesting element to this game.

What to watch for:

1. WVU can’t sleep on Kansas.

Kansas has not won a conference game, but has been close a few times. The two opponents they came close to beating were the No. 23 Texas Longhorns, who escaped by only four points, and the No. 22 Texas Tech Red Raiders, who needed overtime to beat the Jayhawks by only a touchdown.

If WVU is not ready, Kansas could play the spoiler for WVU’s bowl plans.

2. Tavon Austin’s Big Day.

Tavon Austin should have a huge day against the Jayhawks defense. Austin is the most explosive player in college football right now, and has assured himself a first round NFL draft projection.

Look for Austin to be used early and often.

3. WVU Defense

If the WVU defense is even half-average on Saturday WVU should play well enough to win. The defense forced turnovers against the Iowa State Cyclones last week in the Mountaineer’s first win since early October, and have the ability to do the same this week.

Key Player:

WVU’s Tavon Austin will control this game. If he plays well, WVU will win by a lot. Look for Austin to continue to be used as both a tailback and a receiver.

This is so hard for a defense to prepare for. If the defense spends time preparing for Austin as a receiver, he can be moved to tailback and vice versa.

Austin will have a huge day on Saturday.

My Prediction:

The Mountaineer offense should give Kansas far too much to handle. West Virginia wins 45-28.

Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeAtkinsonRS, like him on Facebook, or visit his Rant Sports Author Page.


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