The Oklahoma State Cowboys earned a win in the home-opener and stand 1-0 on the season. However, it wasn’t the lopsided win many expected on Saturday. Instead, the program struggled on the offensive side of the ball. Mustering a single touchdown through the 60-minute contest, there are more questions than answers at this point in time.
Forced to look ahead while putting the season opener in the rearview mirror, O-State now hosts the West Virginia Mountaineers. Kicking off conference play, WVU Head Coach Neal Brown does “not think that [Saturday] was an accurate representation” of the Pokes offensively.
West Virginia’s Offense
Despite losing three starting players to suspension on the offensive side of the ball, the unit hummed along in the opener against Eastern Kentucky. Posting 56 points, Jarrett Doege is the undisputed starter at the quarterback position. Completing 76% of his pass attempts, the junior accounted for 228 yards of offense and three touchdowns through the air. Without an interception during the outing, expectations remain high for the signal caller.
Throwing toward young receivers, six underclassmen currently lead the team in receptions and yards. Sam James and Bryce Ford-Wheaton both crossed the goal line collecting 139 yards combined. It’s clear that the talent is sitting on the roster but experience in conference play will likely be a major factor in the success of this squad.
On the ground junior Leddie Brown as well as Alec Sinkfield carried the ball for 123 yards each. In conjunction, the duo also reached the end zone two times a piece. As a dangerous one-two punch, the Mountaineers can rely on the tandem of backs to take pressure off the quarterback and these young receivers. In total, WVU raced toward a 329 yard day on the ground which should be a cause of concern for any program lacking a dominant defensive tackle.
West Virginia’s Defense
Defensively, West Virginia possesses two of the best in the league on the defensive line. Darius Stills — selected as the Pre-Season Big XII Defensive Player of the Year –is a name most are familiar with, but it’s Dante having the bigger impact through one game. Still, the two are expected to create chaos in the backfield for opposing offenses.
Knowing the Oklahoma State offensive line is currently the weak point of the unit, the Stills brothers may very well pin their ears back and charge into the backfield. WVU racked up nine tackles for loss in on September 12 and will look to match or better the number after a bye week.
On the backend, the secondary benefits from the play in the trenches. Defensive back Alonzo Addae secured the lone interception in the opener that the ‘Eers won handedly. Yet, it’s also a unit that allowed a mere 131 yards through the air.
I get it, the sample size is very limited as the Big XII begins conference play. But, in the same breath the West Virginia Mountaineers look like the dark horse of the league on paper. While all signs point to a two horse race here in the conference right now, we’ll know more about both of these teams after the weekend.