The No. 8 West Virginia Mountaineers have looked nearly unbeatable in their first four games behind quarterback Geno Smith and his weapons, primarily Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. The No. 11 Texas Longhorns, their new Big 12 conference opponents, are trying to find some way, ANY way, of slowing down Smith, head coach Dana Holgorsen and the Moutaineers' patented Air Raid offense.
Longhorns blog Barking Carnival has some ideas on how to do this. So does SB Nation's college football guru, Bill Connelly, and the two agree on one main principle: Texas must rush four defenders to the quarterback a substantial majority of the time. Here's Barking Carnival's Scipio Tex's case for rushing a quadrifecta of defenders:
As with Goldilocks, four is just right. Bring four - in whatever permutation - and you prevent an immediate automatic read made from muscle memory because you can challenge the shallow routes that are WVU's sustaining force without losing help over the top. Bring four because eventually, fairly good pass rushers will get there. Bring four because it marries well with what we should be running for 75% of our snaps.
Other keys highlighted by the two are sound tackling — something Maryland excelled at while holding the Mountaineers to 31 points a few weeks back — a strong rushing game on both sides of the ball and the need for the Longhorns put up plenty of points on their own. If they can't do that, well, the Longhorns have to hope they get really lucky.