West Virginia has some excellent names, both in positions and personnel. The depth chart has positions listed as “Cat”, “Bandit”, and “Spear”, and dudes with names like Stone Wolfley, Quondarius Qualls, Exree Loe, a guy with the first name Nicktroy, and a kicker with the last name Legg. Hell, they have a dude named Zach Sandwisch who plays the Bandit position! Bandit Sandwisch!
...Anyway, here’s the defensive preview.
Jeffrey Pooler, Jr. – R-JR: 3 tackles/1 TFL/0 sacks/0 PDs
Taijh Alston – R-SO: 1 tackle/1 TFL/1 sack/0 PDs
Darius Stills – JR: 6 tackles/1 TFL/1 sack/0 PDs
Brenon Thrift – R-SR: x
Jordan Jefferson – FR: x
Reese Donahue – SR: 1 tackle/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
Dante Stills – SO: 3 tackles/2 TFLs/1 sack/1 PD
Stone Wolfley – R-SR: x
The matchup: Missouri offensive line vs. closed running lanes
The Missouri run game became an opportunistic tool last week— mainly because our line couldn’t create any running lanes for our backs. For all the beef on our line, the big boys only created 2.8 yards of space for Badie and Rountree to attack. That’s simply not going to cut it - ever - and the West Virginia front seven is not a remedy for that. They logged 4 sacks in 24 passing attempts and held James Madison to 172 yards on 44 rushes. Odom recruits gigantic dudes to man the line and they need to demonstrate that implied power much more frequently than they did last week.
Quondarius Qualls – R-SR: 2 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
Zach Sandwisch – R-JR: x
Dylan Tonkery – R-JR: 5 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
Jake Abbott – R-SO: x
Josh Chandler – SO: 14 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/1 PD
Exree Loe – R-SO: 2 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
Deamonte Lindsay – R-SR: 2 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
JoVanni Stewart – SR: 3 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
Kwantel Raines – R-FR: 1 tackle/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
The matchup: Rountree vs. redemption
You are all well aware of the positive story lines swirling around Rountree this offseason, but his skill set wasn’t needed on Saturday once the Tigers had to pass more, and even when he was on the field, he was our least successful runner by far at 40%. Now, he certainly wasn’t done any favors by the line, but when given an opening to attack, both he and Badie needed to generate more than 2 (!!) extra yards. The Mountaineer linebackers were very active in their first game and logged almost a third of the team’s total tackles. If the Tiger line is doing their job, then Rountree (and Badie) need to be athletic in space and generate much more explosive run plays than they did against Wyoming.
Keith Washington II – R-SR: 2 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs/1 INT
Nicktroy Fortune – FR: 1 tackle/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
Sean Mahone – R-JR: 6 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
Tykee Smith – FR: 2 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
Noah Guzman – SO: x
Josh Norwood – R-SR: 5 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
Kerry Martin, Jr. – FR: 3 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/0 PDs
Hakeem Bailey – R-SR: 4 tackles/0 TFLs/0 sacks/3 PDs
Tavian Mayo – FR: x
The matchup: Knox vs. Bailey
West Virignia’s biggest havoc contributor last week was Hakeem Bailey, mostly thanks to 3 passes broken up. Josh Norwood is the big name at the safety position, and Keith Washington is active in the interception department, but Bailey was lock-down last week and will probably be sic’d on Knox. Does he erase one side of the field while Norwood prowls the other half? Can Knox break free to open up Johnson and Okwuegbunam underneath? If the receivers can shake the confidence of Bailey, the entire secondary needs to compensate and make our passing game hum.
Evan Staley – R-JR: 2-2 FGs/Long of 43/2-2 XP
Casey Legg – R-FR: x
Josh Growden – R-SR: 8 punts/323 yards/40.4 avg/Long of 60
Kolton McGhee – FR: x
Sam James – R-FR: 3 returns/54 yards/18 avg/22 long
Keith Washington II – R-SR: x
Kennedy McKoy – SR: x
Alec Sinkfield – R-SO: 1 return/4 yards/4 avg/4 long
The matchup: the return game vs. the world
I will say, despite the general malaise that befalls you whenever your team loses a game, the one thing I was immediately impressed with was the special teams return unit. Yes, Richaud Floyd made a super-dumb-bad mistake in letting that one punt go, but the returns overall were much better (No one held! Huzzah!). KEEP THAT GOING, PLEASE. The Mountaineer return unit wasn’t anything flashy, but their Punter, Josh Growden, uncorked some great punts to keep James Madison pinned. All you need is ten yards on a return to mitigate the effect and hopefully, Floyd gets some clean shots at doing so.