Kansas State has long had a reputation for building its team with junior college players, but Texas Tech made a strong move in that direction in this past year’s recruiting class. Head coach Tommy Tuberville now has 11 juco transfers on the roster, and seven of those were on the preseason depth chart.
The standouts are linebacker Will Smith, who has 22 tackles, and running back SaDale Foster, who has 209 rushing yards.
Texas Tech is the only Big 12 school to have successfully converted an onside kick this year. The Red Raiders have actually recovered both of their attempts, giving them a perfect 2-2 mark on the season.
West Virginia, on the other hand, has faced two on-side kick attempts. The Mountaineers have recovered both of them.
SIDEWAYS CAREER PATH
The insanity that exists in the hiring, firing and moves of college football coaches is no more clearly illustrated than in the career of Tuberville. Despite winning records at Mississippi (25-40) and Auburn (85-40), Tuberville has moved on to new jobs, and not necessarily always to ones at higher profile programs. Tuberville is now building a third consecutive winning record (he’s 17-13 at Texas Tech) and has a career record as a head coach of 127-73.
With Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin shattering WVU records on a weekly basis, attention on other record runs has taken a bit of a back seat. However, there is one other record, esoteric as it is, that could be in jeopardy.
Through five games, Andrew Buie has 16 receptions for 231 yards, good for tenth place on the single season list for running back receiving yards. Second place, held by Steve Slaton with 360 yards, is well within reach, but the all-time mark of 565, held by Jim Braxton, is a ways out. Still, Buie would need to average just 42 receiving yards per game to break Braxton’s mark.
This isn’t like predicting a receiving record for a wideout, however. Game plans and opposing weaknesses often dictate the number of receiving chances a back will get during a game, so it’s no lock that Buie will threaten the mark. Still, with WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen’s love of screen passes, and the decoy factor of Tavon Austin (WVU often sets up screens to Buie after faking sweeps or short passes to Austin), you can’t discount the possibility of a record run.
How many turnovers make up for, say 80 yards of total offense? That’s a stat to ponder as you consider the defensive performances of the Mountaineers and Red Raiders.
WVU is sixth in rushing defense in the league, having yielded 124 yards per game (but just 2.9 per carry). It is ninth in pass defense, giving up 336 yards per outing. The totals put WVU ninth overall with a defensive yield of 460 yards per game.
Texas Tech is first across the board, with averages of 92.6 against the run (the same 2.9 per carry as West Virginia), 117.4 against the pass and 210 overall. On paper, that looks like a mismatch. But turnovers balance things out a bit.
West Virginia has suffered just three all year, while Tech has given the ball up nine times. WVU has forced eight turnovers, while Tech has gotten seven. How far does that advantage go in offsetting the yardage differential? As always, turnovers are important, but they do even more than just give a team an extra possession. They kill an opponent scoring chance, and tend to negate the yardage gained on the drive prior to the turnover.
Many college mascots are, in a word, goofy. Cartoonish costumes and hydrocephalic head coverings don’t do a lot for us, but that hasn’t been the case the past two weeks. Bevo, the Texas Longhorn, and the Masked Rider, Texas Tech’s live leader, are quite cool. Along with WVU’s Mountaineer, these sorts of mascots are the kinds of symbols schools can really get behind – much more so that a giant plastic head.
Like WVU’s mascot, the Masked Rider has a lengthy history, stretching back to 1953. Thirteen different horses have served as the Rider’s mount. The current steed, Midnight Matador, has been leading Tech’s charge onto the field for the past 11 seasons.
Unfortunately, we won't get to see Midnight Matadaor. He has been ruled out of Saturday's game after a visit to the veterinarian. That's the second time we've missed a mascot in action - Auburn's War Eagle wasn't allowed to fly when a storm rumbled through Auburn, Ala., prior to West Virginia's visit to Jordan Hare Stadum.
Texas Tech lists 13 starters on its offensive depth chart. Every one hails from the Lone Star state. Defensively, the Red Raiders list “only” eight starters, out of 12 positions, as Texas natives. Two come from Oklahoma, with California and Pennsylvania accounting for the outsiders.
West Virginia officially lists just one – Parkersburg’s Josh Jenkins – but Cody Clay was the starter at the blocking back position against Texas, and isn’t likely to yield that spot any time soon.